Eegah (1962) (part 1 of 3)
Things start out with a pointless shot of a desert, which fades into the opening credits. These are made up of words painted on mummified corpses, with smoke and flowers around them. It’s all just as weird as it sounds. Also, any hope I once had of this movie being good at all is destroyed when two of the titles go out of focus for a few seconds. That’s never a good sign.
After that, we cut to a very badly lit street. A woman walks out of a store and gets into her very dainty Bug-Eyed Sprite. This is our heroine, Roxy Miller. She’s played by Marilyn Manning, doing the old “thirty-something playing a teenager” trick. Steve McQueen and Tom Cruise could pull it off, but she doesn’t have a prayer.
Roxy drives to a gas station, where her boyfriend Tom works. This is Arch Hall Jr., doing the same trick Manning is, and he would later co-star with her in The Sadist. The most notable thing about him is his god-ugly face, which defies description. Picture a slightly less wrinkled James Cagney with Tina Turner’s hair, and you’ll get maybe half the picture. They have a short discussion about how she just bought a bathing suit that never becomes important. In fact, this whole scene is pretty much useless. After Roxy leaves, Tom overfills a car’s gas tank, making his employer yell at him. Get used to these lame attempts at comic relief, because there’s quite a few of them.
Roxy, some ways down the road, slams on the brakes when she sees a shadowy figure in front of her. It gets in the headlights, making her faint at the sight of… Eegah, as played by Richard Kiel. Kiel later became something of a star purely because of his enormous size, but this early in his career he had to stoop to parts like this. It’s very depressing to think about, so I recommend you don’t. In a scene that takes at least twice as long as it should, Eegah examines the car. Finally he honks the horn, waking up Roxy so she can scream. This startles him into preparing to smash up the car with his club, briefly raising my hopes that the movie will be over before it begins. However, Tom comes to the rescue, with his headlights somehow frightening Eegah off. You’d think Eegah would be used to headlights by now, but the plot needs to proceed somehow. I presume that Tom got fired for the overflowing incident, as he got there awfully quick and we never see him at the gas station again. By the way, Tom is driving a very spiffy ’62 Corvette that predictably turns out to be the very best thing about the movie. Showing it this early and never again was not a wise move. Roxy starts screaming again, but this time forms some coherent words about seeing a giant. This is quite a feat, considering she has to look at Tom’s face the whole time.
Now we segue into a scene that is pretty much required in films like this, where teens try to convince skeptical adults to believe their outlandish story. Here Roxy is explaining things to her dad, Dr. Robert Miller, and some other guy that we never see again. Robert could easily have been given his lines, so why is he here? Anyway, Robert points out that Roxy couldn’t possibly have expected him to believe her, which is a pretty good point. Her response is, “Why not? It’s the truth!” Man, she is so full of herself. By the way, Robert is played by Arch Hall Sr., the film’s director (working under two psuedonyms, “William Watters” for his “acting” role, and “Nicholas Merriweather” for his “directing” role). That’s right, he cast Manning as his character’s daughter, and his son as her boyfriend. I wonder how he explained that to them? He calls Eegah a monster, prompting Roxy to say he’s not a monster, but a giant. I’d think that giants would also be considered monsters, but what do I know?
After the other guy leaves (what was he doing there again?) Robert quotes the Bible to explain the possible existance of giants: “There were giants in the earth, in those days.” I’m not an avid Bible reader, so I’ll just have to trust it’s a real quote. Still, I’m sure it’s completely taken out of context. Roxy and Tom head outside, where she laments that even Tom doesn’t believe her. Tom tells her he does in fact believe her, and bets his Elvis LP on it [!]. The scene ends with Roxy bizarrely calling Eegah “cute”.
The next day, the trio head to the spot where Roxy saw Eegah. Her father tells her he’s not saying she didn’t see a giant, then proceeds to do just that. Before he can finish (probably because Arch, Sr. couldn’t think of a plausible reason why she didn’t), Tom calls them over to look at a footprint. The camera goes for a close-up of Tom’s profile. While not as bad as a head-on shot, it somehow looks like he broke his neck. It turns out he found a footprint that’s a tad large, even compared to Robert’s foot. He says it could only have been made by a giant, and Roxy squeals of her victory and falls into Tom’s arms. No really, she does.
Robert points out a trail of prints, and they all follow it. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, Robert’s voice says, “Watch out for snakes!” while his lips don’t move. This is the first indication that, like legendary clunker “Manos” The Hands of Fate, Eegah was filmed with a camera that could not record sound, and all the audio was added later. Still, why did Arch feel the need to put that line in? It adds nothing to the scene, and it’s painfully obvious that none of the characters are saying it. Getting back to the movie, Roxy refuses to wait in the car because Eegah is “my giant”. Tom says that Eegah turned and went to—and then we cut to presumably where he’s looking, which is a pretty generic mountain. Roxy calls it Shadow Mountain, which is very reminiscent of Mystery Mountain in The Brain From Planet Arous, in that it sounds like a place where the Scooby Doo gang would hang out. Robert tells them he’s going to look for Eegah himself in order to write a book about him [?]. Tom repeatedly insists that he can take Robert there in his dune buggy, but Robert repeatedly refuses. He says he wants something safer, but you can just tell he doesn’t want to be alone with Tom (my theory).
We fade to Robert getting into a helicopter with some other guy who never appears again. Robert’s got an extra-large purse that becomes important later, although it’s unclear at this point why he has it. Tom leans in and asks if this is really safer than the dune buggy. Oh, shut up about your dune buggy, already! Once the helicopter takes off, we watch the flight in its entirety. This wasn’t such a great idea, as there’s no dialogue and it takes the pilot a good while to get to where he’s going. On the way, we also see rather obvious tread marks, despite that fact that supposedly no one has ever been on this mountain. They land, and Robert tells the helicopter pilot to pick him up in two days. This seems unusual, as all he really has with him are a camera and binoculars. You’d think he’d want to be better prepared for two days in the desert. Nearby, Eegah sees the helicopter and freaks out, although, again, you’d think he’d be used to them. Robert wanders around aimlessly for a while, then comes across a smoldering campfire. Here we see that he keeps the camera in his man-purse, although it still seems like an inconvienent thing to lug around when he could just wear the camera around his neck. After taking a picture, he looks up and sees Eegah right in front of him. How he could fail to notice him before, I have no idea. Robert stumbles backwards and trips on the camera bag, somehow injuring himself on the sand.
There’s a very awkward cut from Robert pleading with Eegah not to hurt him, to a pool party, where Tom is singing. Arch Hall, Jr.’s singing is even worse than his looks. He seems to be serenading Roxy, but for some reason the lyrics he sings are about some other girl named Vicky. Despite this, Roxy gets pretty hot for him and frolicks around in the pool. During the song, there are always at least five women gathered around Tom, which somehow I don’t think would happen. Also, his amps are dangerously close to the water. I wonder if his hair looks like that because of an accident during this scene? On top of all that, this whole “performance” is made even more asinine by having Tom be assisted by invisible drums, piano, and backup singers. It’s kind of like the songs played on guitar in The Girl in Gold Boots where a harmonica is heard coming from nowhere.
Roxy answers a poolside telephone, and just listens for a minute while Tom, wearing a tight swimsuit (possibly the second most disgusting thing in the film, after his face), just watches her. Roxy then asks if Tom knows where Deep Canyon is. I’m not sure if Arch, Sr. was going for a double entendre here, but that’s how it comes off. After she hangs up, she reveals that the helicopter has conveniently broken down. Tom says that they can go pick Robert up themselves in his dune buggy. Now, did we really need all that whining about the dune buggy when it could have simply been introduced in this scene? Also, for some reaon Tom is holding his chest in that classic “Pledge of Allegiance” pose during this scene.
We cut to the desert, where we finally get to see this dune buggy that Tom has. After all the hype, it’s something of a disappointment. It seems to be nothing more than a stripped 30’s Ford with a shovel sticking out of it. Tom and Roxy whiz pointlessly around the desert for a little while (another moment reminiscent of The Girl in Gold Boots) while Roxy squeals like a stuck pig. Tom says his tires are filled with water so they can grip the sand. This information never becomes important. I guess Arch, Sr. just didn’t want anyone criticizing how much traction the dune buggy has. After that, he says “Watch this!” and proceeds to… drive some more. I’m serious. If anything, it’s less exciting than what he was doing before. This is all set to music that sounds like Guns-n-Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” as performed by the Ventures. The song stops when the buggy gets stuck in a rut, but starts again when Tom gets it unstuck. I have no idea why that part was put in. They finally arrive at Deep Canyon, and a close-up of a hand with a pocket watch is flashed on-screen so that we can see it’s past the designated pick-up time. (It’s fairly obvious that the hand belongs to neither Roxy nor Tom.)