The crazed love of a prehistoric giant for a ravishing teenage girl!
It's a Cabbage Patch Elvis!
Five simple words. Seven wonderful syllables. In the entire history of the written and spoken language, since before Australopithecus crawled out from under his own filth and placed grunts to scribbled etchings, no combination of vowels and consonants has so accurately described, in so eloquent and biting a fashion, a single human being. Cabbage: something your Aunt Mae forced you to eat on St. Bowlblats day. A vegetable, along with brussel sprouts and the mirliton, considered the primary producer of gastric distress and odiferous bowel trumpeting. Cabbage Patch: a field of these sulphurous, cruciferous, stink-producing vegetables. Cabbage Patch: A sad, vague, and bland baby doll toy that resembled an overly abused melon-headed toddler with beady, deep-set eyes and cheeks so swollen they appeared to be about ready to split from spoilage. Elvis: the king of Rock, whose bloated, rednecked corpse was found near the toilet. Elvis, whose work within the music industry is legendary, but whose image behind the camera (especially in films) is one of despair, ennui, and jock itchy unease. If you placed this entire meandering musky mess into a blender, set it for puree, and blitzed for about 16 years, you would have Arch Hall Jr., a human member of the creeple people. He is a sad, slope-browed pig-face with skin made out of goop and Clearasil. A boy so devoid of talent that the only way he could get noticed was to have his dad hire him. Too bad his dad's idea of a showcase was the retarded prehistoric love story Eegah!
Facts of the Case
Roxy and her father, famed travel author Robert I. Miller (the "I" stands for imbecile) live an idyllic country club lifestyle. Their days consist of meals with the living dead, the mandatory widowering of Dad, and Roxy's dating of a human chicklet named Tom. One night, while heading to the El Restricted for dinner, Roxy nearly turns a hulking caveman giant named Eegah into highway hash. She passes out and Eegah engages in some road raging. Then he lays eyes on said Roxanne and decides to put on the red light. Before he can do some naughty Neanderthal noodling, Tom shows up, the Rockette wakes up, and Mr. E high tails it out of there.
The next day, Roxy and Tom go for a swim in the Club's oversized public toilet known as the pool. Tom sings Roxy a song about Vicki, and she gets turned on. Tom, Roxy, and beefeater Daddy all head out to the desert to sweat salt and watch out for snakes. Dad decides that Eegah, or better yet what little he knows about Eegah, would make a better book than his latest Incidental Tourist travel guide. So he proceeds to devote all his time to E's study, puts on a pair of black socks and a pith helmet, and heads for the hills. While roaming the low country, Eegah scares Dad and he falls over his own support hose. Eegah whisks him away to his antediluvian love shack. Roxy is worried when Dad hasn't returned (unlike times in the past when he just hasn't returned sober), so she and Tom hitch their hinders to a dune buggy seat. On tires filled with water and intentions filled with stupid goodness, they spend 15 minutes acting like inbred dolphins, squealing and peeling out.
That night, after a futile search, our dumb duet bunk down, desert style. Tom sings Roxy a song about Valerie. This makes her sexually sleepy, and while sacked out, Eegah investigates, if only because he thought Tom's caterwauling was a wounded gazelle and he was powerful hungry. The next day, Tom and Roxy whiz around and spray sand in a mad attempt to locate Dad before the cocktail hour. Tom decides to go rock climbing, and Roxy decides to go limp in Eegah's arms. Locked in The Mighty Gah's pre-first century bachelor pad, she discovers her dad and learns that he and Eegah are no longer happy housemates. Eegman paws at Roxy and shows her some really dreadful cave drawings. Roxy offers him some Eau de Toilette and before you can whistle "shave and a haircut," she is playing barber to both of the slope browed men in her life. When he is all trimmed and groomed, Eegah looks like an awkward and ripe with angst adolescent. He even has the mandatory loincloth odor.
Tom continues to climb rocks, if only because there is no Roxy to mount. Eegah, freshly hygienic, does something really odd to Roxy, and she starts to swoon. Dada escapes, Eegah goes ape-man, and it's not long before somehow, Tom stumbles into the both of them and they flee. Eegah is sad. He wants Roxy. He wants the nightlife. He wants to boogie. So he heads into town to tracks down his little bitty flitty one. At a party, where Tom and his band play a tired mix of Tequila sound-a-likes, Roxy seems dejected and lovelorn. Eegah shows up, tries to shake his booty, and is killed by the police. Roxy is resigned to the fact that she will never be The Bride of Frankenkeil and that her life will now revolve around spawning with Tom Notalent.
Nepotism has wrought some awfully painful pus in the entertainment industry. For every Fonda faction, or Raimi clan, there is a pariah of Prinzes, gaggle of Carters, or worse, murder of Arquettes. Add to the list of redolent relations the Halls, Arch Jr. and Dad Sr. Working on the theory that father's stint in Hollywood as a bit player and B-picture character queen was enough to warrant his own film productions, Pop took one look at his no-talent namesake and said, "He'll do." Arch the Lesser was grated and groomed into the next big thang teen idol, and in reality, he had all the necessary makings of a successful media whore. He looked requisitely adolescent, like a baby in need of a wet nurse, and possessed the ability to delude himself into thinking he could carry a tune. Hell, Frankie Avalon and Dion had less. After badly miscasting Junior as a carjacking, auto thieving glam guy in The Choppers, Archie Senior decided to go all out, and devise a musical epic for sonny boy. The resulting Wild Guitar was such a niche nightmare that even the off talent atonal tutelage of his pink progeny couldn't save it. It wanted to be a gritty Jailhouse Rock. It was more like a weekend at juvie with the King Family.
So leave it to the scotch soaked skull of Mr. Hall Sr. to devise an even more miserable way to feature the spray of his loins. Recycling songs from Guitar and plots from ancient episodes of Death Valley Days, he married the monster to the mediocre (with just a little meandering on the side) and called it Eegah!. Eegah!, the name written in blood. Eegah!, a rock and roll romp through the Painted Desert. Eegah!, the most bizarre bit of stunt casting that Richard Kiel would ever be involved in (until someone decided that with some metal choppers he could pass for a land shark). This caveman on the make movie is living, barely breathing proof that not every idea that squelches out of a middle aged brain racked with Canada Dry mixers and beef suet is all that great. As a matter of fact, Eegah! has to be one of the most perverse pieces of putrid picture production ever conceived. It tries to be a wacky, far out innerspace nut, but can't even manage a decent lost saucer.
Let's start with the star power involved. Kiel is a nice enough guy. It's just too bad that his pituitary is so whacked out that his corpus delecti took the notion of being ham fisted literally and gave him mitts the size of a pork butt. It's also too bad that the filmmakers didn't have more faith in Rick's grumbling and groaning skills. His entire spelunker's spiel (NOT written by Anthony Burgess, mind you) is looped in by the Grand Hall himself. So basically the Kielster is around for sheer freak power, plain and simple. And speaking of human oddities, Marilynn Manning is the exceptionally challenged young ingénue that's just a few steps away from being beautiful, talented or interesting. It's just too bad that it's Godzilla gait that we are measuring by. She is shrill, acts ill, and substitutes noises for line readings that resemble the dying gasps of tufted titmice. But it's the Halls, the major and minor offenders here, that give new meaning to the word spastic. Take Hall Senior. He looks the part of aging country club bar jockey, but it's hard to take his trek into the terror terrain seriously when he dresses like Mr. Howell's indigent brother. Every sentence utter from his twisted maw has an overly dramatic arch to it. It starts out soft, builds in the middle, and tapers off to a curt cutoff before the period. He sounds like he is delivering his dialogue on a roller coaster. Together with the overgrown moaner and shale faced Roxy, they make up a cave bound soiree that even Oscar Wilde couldn't have successfully camped up.
But it is the festering soil from his gnarled gonads that makes Eegah! remind one of a painful trip to the proctologist. There is every effort made here to highlight Hall Junior, to manufacture a showcase vehicle for his looks, talent, and singing skill. Unfortunately, the only ride they could construct was a hearse, since peewee Archie is just that brain dead. He is as ugly as he is homely, with the look of a shaved pug dog carved out of a gross of greased Silly Putty. His entire body stance is off kilter, as if the lack of spinal support is creating pressure points and tolerance issues in his scarecrow legs and swollen ass. Instead of acting brave, he acts confused. Instead of sweating, he looks oil slicked. And instead of musical talent, Junior is barely able to pretend hum. It is obvious that instead of Fabian, or even Johnny Crawford, Arch Hall Jr. is the kind of singer that no amount of Madonna like electronic enhancement or Cher oriented technological toning could possibly help. He is a one-note performer who's desperate to hit and sustain said singular musical nomenclature. And it's not every film that would be unsane enough to feature him, not once, but three times attempting to croon a loony tune. These hits, so irritating they age Dick Clark as we speak, give a much better idea of why there is so much evil in this world and why Eegah! is so very foul indeed.
"Vicki": A song with a backing vocal track clearly inspired by the shrill wail of a banshee, guitar chords out of an ancient Close and Play, and a lyric that confirms our hero's status as A) a fool, B) a fool, and C) a fool. "Vicki" tantalizes the listener with its hyena yelp vocals and nonsensical time changes. The fact that the performance by Arch Hall Jr. appears to be leading the heroine, Roxy, to take her own life via drowning seems to be a very good indication of what said song does to the viewing and listening audience.
"Valerie": A ditty that centers on Hall Junior's obvious LACK of material goods. Nothing drives the women wilder than silly, bucktoothed whistling, lamentations on your rather slim financial footing, and the value of a balanced diet. Where else would lyrics like "vitamins are good they say and so's a calorie…" be considered a come on? And by the way, if we gave Arch a billion dollars, would he just go away?
"The House on Brownsville Road": A take on that chestnut of the rock catalog, the horror novelty song. But in this case, the most horrifying thing about the tune is the overripe, cherub from Hell face of Mr. Hall Jr. He could be describing the seventh level of Purgatory, and until you see his dull, lifeless deadeyes, you will never understand the true meaning of wickedness. "Turn to the left at the sign of the Toad"? As Arch Hall Sr. says in the film, "We heard it. We didn't say we understood it, but we heard it."
Again, thanks to Joel Hodgson and his robot pals, we are drowned in a pool of palate cleansing cleverness that makes a rancid rainbowed meat sandwich like Eegah! go down a little less toxically. The writers of MST3K are again to be praised for making a day hike out of this Bataan death march. There is truly nothing redeeming about Eegah!, and it even adds those musical monstrosities by Junior on top for good (or make that EXCEPTIONALLY BAD) measure. And it's not easy to make fun of singers and music. Just ask Kurt Loder. Yet, our intrepid movie mockers come up with classic lines, time and time again. They guide us over and through this immovably bleak feast in a fashion so merry we avoid the mournful. When Roxy cavorts under the swimming pool slide, she is labeled "so very naughty" by Joel. When cave-bound Dad snuggles up to daughter in a manner unbecoming a parent (we know Dad is lonely, but REALLY), our clever commentators have a field day making bad and sad innuendoes. And when Richard Kiel sticks out his oversized tongue to lap shaving cream off Roxy's fingers like some seedy scenario from a porn version of the Barber of Seville, the reaction and rancor hurled at the screen by Joel, Tom Servo, and Crow make the nauseating vision that much easier on the eye and stomach.
But along with the comments over and around the film, the skits here are probably some of the best, most hilarious and (dare say it) profound offerings MST3K has created. Beginning with an insightful (along with painfully witty) conversation about when Hell started lapping up from the netherworld and into real life, the pronouncements are so on target they would make skilled sharpshooters jealous. Of special note is the pointed stab at the very heart of comedic darkness, an awful Aussie named Yahoo Serious. Next, we witness the robots as insane plastic surgeons whose manic voodoo goal is to turn their buddy Joel into the puffy pink boy known as Arch Hall, Junior. Finally, we are treated to the topical and frighteningly astute deconstruction of the 1960s sitcom as foundation for the single parent family. After the gang discusses the motherless children at the center of such shows as The Courtship of Eddie's Father and Family Affair, the connection between their lack of a nurturing female role model and eventual juvenile delinquency becomes crystal clear. Anyone who ever questioned the intelligence and ingenuity of the gang at Mystery Science Theater need look no further than these off-film moments to see that, for a show that revolved around the occasionally immature mocking of bad films, there was a definite subversive, and sublime subtext.
Rhino's DVD offering was one of the first in their Mystery Science Theater 3000 product line, and they put more effort and ingenuity into it than they would do so later in the run. The disc offers a full screen presentation that is, as usual, awesome. Video colors are vibrant without bleeding, and there are no defects or compression problems. As an extra, Rhino offers Eegah! in all its uncut and Stone Age cold crazy glory. We get to witness extended scenes of Arch Jr. climbing boulders, Roxy pitching fits, and a truly crackers sequence in which Eegah, in the throes of primordial lust, rubs his huge hands over Roxy's shoulders. They move down her front out of camera shot, and then we get a close-up of Roxy as a really weird glazed look fills her eyes, like he just turned on her heartlight or something. There is an interactive icon, resembling character Crow T. Robot which is supposed to "effortlessly and quickly" allow you access to missing footage (MST cuts films by 5 to 20 minutes to incorporate non-movie material) while viewing the MST3K version. Unfortunately, this is not always reliable, or possible. The Crow icon can get stuck, and no matter how many times you "disable" it, it will still show up in the corner. And even when you press the button to access the extras (which is nothing more than a layer change) you may find yourself endlessly stuck, or just frozen. While it's a great idea, it's interesting to note that on future DVD releases where both versions of the film are offered, the interactive Crow icon is not.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
It is important to note that, in a recent IMDb poll, Eegah! came in eighth for worst movie of all time. Worse than Plan Nine from Outer Space. Worse than The Wild Wild World of Batwoman. Worse than such consistently reviled works as Ishtar, Hudson Hawk, or Town And Country. So what makes the people at Rhino think we want to view this unholy horror in the privacy of our home? Who did they think would look at any number of negative reviews that slam this piece of overripe wombat cheese as a cinematic abomination and say, "Yeah, but is it any good? I just have to know. I need to see for myself." In some ways, the poor MST3K suckers, desperate for a decent copy of Eegah! to replace their worn out and cable hazy video tape are the guinea pigs for some sort of warped Rhino DVD experiment. Not only because they enclose the full, uncut Eegah! for consumption, but they create this little interactive icon that looks all cute and cuddly, but ends up showing its evil dark side by freezing and fudging up the DVD player at every turn. Turn it off, and it shows up. Use it, and more than likely you end up with a Parallel Universe Director's Cut, where Roxy leaves Tom and meets Eegah in his love grotto for some carnal cuddles. No, Rhino's heart may have been in the right place (and that is truly debatable), but their heads were not awake in Introduction to DVD Mastering 101. They fail here with an otherwise decent piece of comedy.
You can't find Arch Hall Jr. today. He retired from films in the early '70s and went on to be a pilot (as if we need yet ANOTHER reason to fear flying). He is a recluse, disowning a lot of what he and his father did. And in some ways, it's too bad. MST3K resurrected his career in a fashion that no stand-alone version of his oeuvre could ever do. Something Weird Video recently released a Special Edition of Wild Guitar / The Choppers (reviewed elsewhere on site) and, while cockeyed and cruel in its own tuneless way, it cannot match Eegah!. Not because of Richard Kiel and his incredibly perverted pantomime performance. Not because of Hall Sr. half in the bag and more than likely wishing that Mom Hall were around to smack her son a little. Not because the film is that good, or that "so awful it's artful." No, it's because Tom Servo was not there, watching. He was not there to witness the warbling, the nonsensical timbre shifts and zombified phrasing of our croaking talent-free toad. He is not there to throw down the threats and beat down the bombast that the two Halls foisted upon the moviegoing public. He is not there to call him out, like the wounded space waster that he is, and brand him with the name not written in blood, but dripping with sarcasm and sanity. Nowhere in Wild Guitars or The Choppers is Servo there to shout, for the entire world to hear, the immortal words that perfectly pin Archie to the wall like the giant grub he is. "It's a Cabbage Patch Elvis." How succinct indeed.
The Halls, Arch Junior and Senior, are remanded to the Hollywood Penitentiary for the Criminally Inane for future examination and exorcism. Richard Kiel is released on his own recognizance. The cast and crew of Mystery Science Theater 3000 are acquitted of all charges, and the court finds their version of Eegah! not guilty. The original, uncut version of Eegah! is ordered sent to a toxic waste facility for immediate disposal. Rhino is warned about trying digital technology experiments it is not capable of handling properly.
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