• Eegah (The Film Detective) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: The Film Detective
    Released on: November 26th, 2019.
    Director: Arch Hall Sr.
    Cast: Arch Hall Jr., Marilyn Manning, Richard Kiel, Ray Dennis Steckler
    Year: 1962
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    Eegah – Movie Review:

    Arch Hall Sr.’s 1962 film ‘Eegah’ is the terrible tale of a caveman (Richard Kiel of ‘Moonraker’ fame) who has been living in a desert since, well, we’re not really sure, but it’s been a long time judging by the looks of him. By sheer coincidence, a teenager named Roxy (Marilyn Manning) encounters him in the desert one day when she almost runs him over. Her Dad, when he finds out about this living fossil, decides to go looking for him.

    When her old man doesn’t come back, Roxy and her boyfriend Tom (Arch Hall Jr., who is about ten years younger than Manning!), a guitar slinging gas station worker, go off in their trusty dune buggy to find him. Of course, Eegah abducts Roxy and runs off with her back to his cave, where she finds her father, who’s in pretty rough shape. Heroic Tom shows up, and the trio escape in the dune buggy, but what will happen when Eegah follows them back to Palm Springs?

    Directed and co-written by Arch Hall Sr. under the Nicholas Merriwether alias, Eegah (‘the name written in blood!’ according to the poster art) is a patently ridiculous film, and badly dubbed in spots as there were problems with the original sound recording, but it’s hard not to have a good time with it. Yeah, it was obviously cranked out fast and cheap and the two main reasons it exists was to exploit Richard Kiel’s massive physique and the musical abilities of the director’s quirkily coiffed son, but how can you not get wrapped up in 'the crazed love of a prehistoric giant for a ravishing teen-age girl?' After all, the movie features ‘primitive passions turned on’ and teaches us once and for all that ‘love breaks the time barrier!’ (that one-sheet is gold!).

    The acting? Well, Eegah does have acting in it. Kiel grunts and groans his way through the movie, lumbering about like the real-life giant that he was and while it seems odd that he’s been existing out there for so long without ever having been discovered only then to just sort of wander into trouble like this, just go with it. Kiel is pretty fun to watch here, and he swings a giant wooden club around like the best of them. Marilyn Manning, who was Arch Hall Sr.'s secretary and who also pops up in The Sadist, is wooden but foxy, she does the damsel in distress things well enough. Look for cameos from Arch Hall Sr. in the film as Mr. Miller (credited as William Watters) and by none other than Ray Dennis Steckler (who worked as the assistant camera operator on the film).

    And then there’s Arch Hall Jr., who made The Wild Guitar for his dad the same year and who would star in the amazing The Sadist for director James Landis in 1963, is a blast to watch here. Worth sitting through to Hall’s hair alone, his performance affords him the opportunity to deliver a few songs – Nobody Lives On Brownsville Road, Valerie and the highlight of the movie, Vicky – backed by his band, The Archers. His acting skills aren’t exactly great, but Hall has a certain weird sense of charisma that carries him through the film and makes him eminently watchable in the role.

    Eegah – Blu-ray Review:

    The Film Detective presents Eegah on Blu-ray for the very first time anywhere taken from a new 4k scan of the film’s original 35mm negative and presented in 1.66.1 widescreen. There is some print damage here and there, mostly noticeable around the ten-minute mark, but this is a VAST improvement over how this one has looked on home video in the past. The colors pop quite nicely here, the blues of the desert sky look really good in particular, and detail looks so much better than it ever has before. Skin tones look quite good too, and black levels are generally pretty strong. Of course, with the increased detail comes the fact that the movie was made for peanuts and that Eegah’s cave looks like the goofy and hastily made set that it is, but you really can’t fault the disc for that and let’s be honest, the film’s cheapjack nature is part of its appeal. There are no problems with any noticeable noise reduction issues, nor are there any edge enhancement or compression problems to quibble about. Fans of Eegah should be suitably impressed.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track on the disc is also quite good. It’s a tad flat in a few spots but definitely cleaner and clearer than we’ve had on past editions. The two musical numbers sound pretty solid and the score is nice and clear. Optional subtitles are provided for the feature in English only.

    Extras start off with a thirteen-minute interview with a very kindly Arch Hall Jr. who, sitting with an old guitar for the duration of the talk, speaks quite kindly about working with his father and how much fun they had together on this and other projects. He talks about how his father originally wanted Kiel for a harder-edged horror picture but that the actor wasn’t interested, so he came up with the caveman idea simply to cast him. He also talks about his musical career, the locations used for the shoot (Bronson Canyon being the most recognizable one) and how that ridiculous cave was created. A second interview spends seven-minutes with Joel Hodgson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame. He speaks about how the film first came to his attention and his initial feelings about it, how he made some false assumptions about the father/son filmmaking team, where the whole ‘watch out for snakes’ thing came from, and meeting Arch Hall Jr. after being seated next to him at a convention (and wanting to move because he was worried about how they’d get along after the skewering Eegah received on MST3K)!.

    Speaking of MST3K, the entire ‘Eegah’ episode from 1993 is also included on the disc, in standard definition, of course, and presented fullframe as it was broadcast. ‘Eegah’ is one of the best examples of how hysterical MST3K could be. The commentary is funny from the start to the finish and it never lets up, making this one of the best episodes of the series. Those who don’t appreciate the show won’t be won over by this, obviously, but if you do get a kick out of Joel and the robots doing their thing, this episode features them at their prime.

    Menus and chapter selection are also provided.

    Inside the case, alongside the disc, is a color liner note insert booklet featuring an essay on the film penned by Don Stradley of The Film Detective that are worth a read.

    Eegah – The Final Word:

    Eegah was an unlikely candidate for a 4k restoration but here it is, looking great and with some nice extra features as well. The movie itself is a ridiculous amount of ultra-hokey fun, very much a product of its time and a fantastic time capsule of early sixties goofiness. Lots of fun to be had here – highly recommended!

    NOTE: This Blu-ray edition of Eegah is limited to only 1,500 copies.

    Unfortunately, for some reason the disc didn’t want to cooperate with my LG BD-R drive (though it worked just fine on my Sony standalone player) so no screen caps this time, but here are a couple of stills provided by Film Detective that accurately reflect the quality of the transfer.