Pros:Script, pacing, music, acting, make-up, dirrection, Arch Hall Jr's charisma!
Cons:I lied about everything in the Pros.
The Bottom Line: One of the best of the Worsts. A baaad movie night must see!!! Eegah.
Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
Eegah –The Name Written in Blood (full title) was released in 1962. It stars Arch Hall Jr. and the man who would become the Bond villain ‘Jaws’ aka Richard Kiel (Spy Who Loved Me (1977) Moonraker (1979). Arch Hall Sr. found the money to make the film, took on a supporting role (as William Watters), cast it and directed it under the name Nicholas Merriwether. He had an agenda.
He was determined to make his son Arch Jr. a multi-faceted star in the Ricky Nelson vein. His son would sing and act, become famous and make lots of money. Never mind that Arch Junior couldn’t act, didn’t have any charisma and couldn’t sing. What does that matter? Arch Hall Sr (whose real name was William Watters) had established himself as a low budget distributor of drive-in movie schlock and documentaries as president of Fairway International Productions.
Daddy Arch tried to make it happen for his son twice before-- in the 1961 movie Choppers –a cheap exploitation movie about auto-parts thieves and then in the infamous 1962 movie Wild Guitar directed by Ray Dennis Steckler (aka Cash Flagg) which was meant to make his son a teenage heartthrob. Wild Guitar received deservingly terrible reviews and LOST money at the box-office. Arch Jr. didn’t believe he could sing, but Arch Senior didn’t believe that mattered and insisted his son would become a teenage rock-N-roll star and movie star. The critics and public were wrong. So Daddy Arch even more determined to make his son a star put himself into near financial ruin raising 27,000 dollars (15,000 by some sources) to create another vehicle for his son.
Arch Sr. came up with the idea for Eegah after he met the 7 foot 2 inch, 300 pound struggling actor Richard Kiel. Kiel was working as a bouncer at a cowboy bar and Arch Sr. found out Kiel had worked as an extra on several movies and would consider working with Arch Sr. but he would need a place to stay. Marilyn Manning who would play the female lead (Roxy) in the movie was a receptionist for a chiropractor who rented an office from Arch Sr. Sr. would play Manning’s on screen father, and his 16 year old son would capture the hearts of young woman throughout the world in the starring role.
Before I do the plot synopsis you might want to know. . .
Hall Sr. sold his car, borrowed money, and shot the film in Bronson Canyon and Palm Desert California (without permits) with a few scenes shot on Harpo Marx’s property (perhaps they were friends. . .I don’t know). Hall Sr. paid cast and crew next to nothing for the approximately 14 days’ worth of shooting.
Most days temperatures were around 115 degrees and the sound guy perhaps suffering from sun-stroke often hit play, instead of record which wasn’t discovered until after the shooting had wrapped. They tried to dub the missing dialogue during post-production but the actors had ad-libbed a lot of their lines and couldn’t remember what they had said.
There were also lots of other technical problems and missing shots so that’s why you’ll see strange inappropriate closed ups and incoherent shots of various things that have little relation to the scene you are watching—they covered up missing shots.
There are also all kinds of goofs and flubs. You’ll see Arch Hall Jr. singing in one scene and it sounds like he’s using a microphone—but there isn’t one. Two Dress straps on Roxy are ripped in one shot and then one of them has been repaired in the next. And there are lots of goofy moments to enjoy like when band members use Elvis Presley Albums like a bible to take a sacred oath!!! Or that you can become unconscious and break your arm by falling down on soft sand. You’ll also see Parents having fun at the teenage pool party!!!
I’ll get to the plot in a moment. . .
During the film—Arch Jr. attempts to sing three songs. One of these songs is recycled from the previous Hall opus, Wild Guitar. It’s a love ballad and it’s meant to be sung by Junior’s character to his girlfriend who is named Roxy in Eegah. But the song which is from the other movie has lyrics like: “Vitamins are good they say. And so’s a calorie, but I feel like a tiger with one kiss from Valerie.” Roxy doesn’t seem to mind being called Valerie.
Did anyone think maybe they should have named the girlfriend Valerie, so it would make sense he was singing this song to Roxy? No of course not.
I’ve pointed all of these things out to you because you might actually enjoy the awfulness of Eegah knowing this information. (The early episode of MST 3000--a classic-- that included Eegah presented a truncated version of the film.) Bad movie lovers should see this thing without Crow and company.
Young Roxy (Marilyn Manning) is on her way to the local pool for her evening swim. She’s driving and stops at the gas station to see her boyfriend Tom (Arch Hall Jr.) who works there as an attendant. Never mind he's obviously ten years younger....she flirts with him and tells him she’s got a new bathing suit. She drives off and while driving in the desert (How far away is this pool?) suddenly a huge caveman steps in front of the car. Roxy slams on the brakes, caveman Eegah (Richard Kiel) comes at her…but she faints. Roxy wakes up but pretends to be unconscious as the caveman looks at the car and at Roxy before running off into the night.
Roxy tells Tom (who doesn’t believe her) and her writer-father Robert I. Miller (played by Arch Hall Sr.) what happened and the next morning they go with her to the scene of the almost accident and discover a huge footprint. Daddy Miller charters a helicopter to see if there really is a giant living in the desert near Shadow Mountain. Uh oh…look out… there really is a big bone club swinging giant caveman.
Tom and Roxy are at a poolside rock-n-roll party and we get an awful musical number before Roxy finds out, dear old dad has had helicopter problems in the desert. Tom and Roxy jump in the old dune buggy to rescue Dad from the desert. They have to track him down and Tom it turns out is somehow pretty good at this…. Uh huh….. anyway… Dad is missing. Tom and Roxy camp for the night…and Tom sings the touching love ballad Valerie to her (complete with some unseen but heard back-up singers). Uh oh…. Complications happen…..but I dare not spoil the supposed surprises and twists.
Rest assured this is one terrible low budget movie. Script? What’s that? Pacing? Please…it’s a miracle we can focus the camera most of the time. Acting? Hey my KID is in it….ain’t he somethin’ else? Let me torture you by showcasing him as a singer (who can’t sing), a teenage heartthrob (who’s not handsome) and an actor (who can’t act) in a movie in which I demonstrate I can’t direct.
Arch Hall Sr. claimed in the late 70s (he died in 1978) that Eegah had made him approximately a million dollars!!! He didn’t for a moment think it was a good movie, but a million bucks from an investment of 27,000 in less than 15 years is an impressive ROI (return on Investment). And he made a few more movies with his son—a family slapstick comedy (1964’s The Nasty Rabbit), a tense disturbing psycho movie (1963’s The Sadist) and a Western (Deadwood ’76 in 1966—Juniors last on-screen role).
You should also know, that 1963’s The Sadist is almost a very good low budget movie (shot by Vilmos Zsigmond ). Arch Hall Sr. was involved in the production but didn’t write or direct it and the performances for a quickly made and very cheap (23,000 dollars) production are remarkably good. Jr. plays a disturbed psychopath with lots of passion and energy (really, I’m not kidding about this).
EEGAH is a truly terrible film that will entertain and delight baaad movie lovers. Therefore it’s rated either sub 1 star or almost 5. Enjoy or avoid completely.
Roxy: Dad I can't describe it, but I know something has happened to him. He's a creature--why you just have to look at him to see that! But I know whatever he is, he's a human being.
Copyright© Christopher J. Jarmick 2012
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for Groups