12/20/06

506 Eegah!

(1962, Horror-Giant Critter/Musical, color)

Watch out for snakes!

Rating: ****

In a nutshell:

A petulant young woman fends off the advances of an amorous caveman.

Summary:

Eegah watches out for aerial snakes.Perky, big-haired teen Roxy buys herself a tiny swimsuit and stops by her boyfriend’s filling station to tease him with it. The boyfriend (Tom, played by the ungainly Arch Hall, Jr.) explains their relationship and her father’s identity in some detail to a random motorist while he gets ready to leave.

On the way home, Roxy runs her tiny convertible into a giant caveman (the eponymous Eegah, played by Richard Kiel of James Bond fame). Naturally, she stops the car and faints. Eegah gets up and dusts himself off, none the worse for wear. Roxy wakes up, screams, and faints again. Eegah sees the oncoming headlights of Tom’s car and runs away before he can investigate Roxy further.

Back at the club where she lives, Roxy has trouble convincing her father’s elderly friends of her giant caveman encounter. Even her father (played by the only slightly more gainly Arch Hall, Sr.) finds her less than credible until the next day, when they find giant footprints in the desert where she had her prehistoric accident. The father—who’s apparently an anthropologist of some note—journeys into the desert with a pith helmet and a bowling bag in search of the large cave dweller. When he finds him, he breaks his collarbone tripping over his bag while trying to get away.

Meanwhile, the helicopter that was supposed to pick him up has broken down, so the pilot interrupts Tom and Roxy’s musical pool party and asks them to go pick her father up at the mouth of the canyon. They whiz out into the desert in a stripped-down dune buggy, and Tom confides that the tires are filled with water while Roxy shrills “Whee!” in a high-pitched squeal. They get to the mouth of the canyon, but don’t find her dad.

They end up camping for the night. Roxy is understandably worried about her father, so Tom calms her down by singing her a trite little love song with a full orchestral backup. Eegah hears something strange in the desert, but doesn’t manage to find them until the next day. Tom has wandered into the desert with a shotgun to look at stock footage of the wildlife, so he finds Roxy alone. Roxy faints immediately upon seeing the large primitive, but one of her arms flops against the horn while he picks her up. By the time Tom gets back to the dune buggy, she’s gone.

Roxy wakes up in Eegah’s cave, furnished with sulfur springs, primitive drawings on the stone (read: canvas) walls, and the dried corpses of his deceased relatives lined up to one side. She also meets her father, who’s Eegah’s prisoner as well. What follows is a long series of stomach-churningly uncomfortable scenes where Eegah tries to seduce Roxy with his forceful caveman manners, while she pretends to be attracted to her own father to put him off. This involves a shave and some unfunny jokes about looking at Eegah’s etchings, but the less said about these sequences, the better.

Eventually she convinces Eegah to take her outside for some lovin’ instead of doing it in front of her dad, but they don’t go very far outside, so Eegah catches her father rather easily when he tries to escape. Drawn by the shouting, Tom finally shows up and somehow misses Eegah with his shotgun. Eegah closes the remaining distance and snaps the firearm in half. The larger and stronger Eegah beats Tom almost senseless and turns his back, leaving himself open for a blow to the head with a rock. Tom wakes up Roxy (who, of course, has fainted) and they all escape the desert in the dune buggy.

Try as she might, Roxy just can’t get her mind off that crazy Eegah. Eegah can’t get his mind off her either, and follows her scent into town. He finds her at a party dancing to the music of Tom’s tag-team jazz combo. He lumbers in after her, batting away gallant young men to pick her up yet again. When the cops show up, Eegah assaults them with a swimming pool ladder and is shot dead. Her father closes the film by quoting the Bible, probably trying to make up for the extreme creepiness of the earlier cave scenes.

Introduction:

The 'Bots attempt to alter Joel's handsome face to match Arch Hall Jr.'s pug-like visage.Tom attempts to freeze Crow all the way down to zero degrees Kelvin. Joel warns them about starting a chain reaction that would kill them all and tries to retrieve Crow from the freezing chamber. The mostly frozen Crow falls to pieces.

Host Segment One:

Joel finishes fixing Crow, and tells him he’s as good as new. Quoth Crow, “Sure, if you ignore the massive structural damage and complete lack of any resale value.” Joel replies, “Yeah, I was ignoring that.” They’ve invented the Porkerina, a pig-shaped bagpipe/keyboard that plays Green Acres incidental music. Down in Deep 13, Dr. Forrester has removed Frank’s blood and replaced it with radiator fluid, even going so far as to surgically graft a radiator to Frank’s body. He flushes the coolant system and sends Frank off to his ice-dancing lesson.

Host Segment Two:

Joel and the ‘Bots discuss the subtle manifestations of hell in our society, such as the band Styx, and the loss of full service gas stations. All is not lost, however, since they conclude that a higher power must have intervened to save the world from Yahoo Serious.

Host Segment Three:

Tom and Crow drug Joel so they can alter his face to look like Arch Hall, Jr. This involves pasty pigmentation, face smooshing, an upturned nose, and a large, impractical hairstyle. Joel wakes up and puts his face back to normal.

Host Segment Four:

Joel and the ‘Bots try to make popcorn while discussing the sixties sitcom penchant for widowers. They go through a long list of shows and conclude that the only traditionally nuclear family on television at the time was The Munsters. Crow suddenly realizes that he doesn’t have a mom either.

Host Segment Five:

Tom and Crow attempt to shower away the oily filth of the film, but find an unknown hair on the soap. Joel reads a letter. Down in Deep 13, Dr. Forrester tries to find and repair Frank’s coolant leak. Frank demands his blood back.

Stinger:

Roxy in the cave, draped across her father’s lap while he urges her to “fake it.”

Thoughts:

The pug-like visage in question.By writing, producing, directing, and acting in several low-budget films, Arch Hall Sr. was apparently trying to jump-start his son’s teen idol career. Someone should have told him not to bother. Despite the mockery heaped upon him in this episode, Arch Hall, Jr. isn’t so ugly that you’d scream in terror if you bumped into him at night; he’s actually just a little funny-looking. That’s something that could probably be said about me as well, except I have more sense than to pretend I’m Brad Pitt. Holding oneself up for comparison against the most physically perfect specimens of one’s time will make even an above average-looking person seem rather pathetic. Compared to Elvis in his prime, Arch Hall Jr. is ugly as sin.

This film contains the line, “Watch out for snakes!” It’s spoken while Roxy, her father, and Tom investigate the desert for giant footprints, but none of the characters onscreen say it. Since no one’s supposed to be out there with them, it’s a little startling. (I think it must have been a concerned cameraman or something.) From this point onward in the run of the show, one of the satellite crew will yell, “Watch out for snakes!” whenever someone in a film wanders into the desert. It happens more often than you might think.

The best host segments from Joel’s tenure on the Satellite of Love are when he has an ordinary conversation with the ‘Bots that wanders to bizarre extremes. This episode has two examples of this, with Joel’s subtle manifestations of hell (which is a lot funnier than I can make it seem in the summary) and the musings on the widowered dads of sixties sitcoms. The Arch Hall, Jr. Makeover is good, too, as is the invention exchange. The final host segment ought to strike a chord with most viewers, as few things are creepier than finding a foreign hair on your soap.

The film segments contain some of the funniest commentary in the entire run of the show, starting with the random close-ups of flowers in the opening credits that prompt Joel to say, “Poppies will make us sleep.” When Roxy’s dad wanders into the desert with a pith helmet and a bowling bag, Crow says, “It’s Lawrence of Pasadena.” Many of the other comments revolve around Arch Hall, Jr.’s appearance, such as Tom’s, “He’s like a Cabbage Patch Elvis,” and later Joel’s, “I’ve got it; he looks like the bat from Ferngully,” and finally Crow’s, “I’ve figured it out: He’s a cyst with teeth and hair.” If you can last through the nauseating caveman seduction scenes, this is one of the funniest MST3K episodes in the entire run of the show.