Eegah, 1962. 2/10

Pretty terrible stuff. A caveman giant in the desert wilderness, surviving into the modern age due to an abundance of sulphur in his cave habitat, does…what? Scares a local girl, kidnaps her and her father, and then they just hang out. He does get a mean streak going when they try to escape, but there’s no sci-fi involved; he’s acts like just another rustic nut. His mummified ancestors are the scary presence. Maybe the sulphur water could’ve been put to better use by somehow reanimating them.

There aren’t really any memorable performances here. Richard Kiel is kind of a cool caveman. His better scenes occur when he makes his way to town; “Large man or giant creating disturbance” as the police dispatcher aptly puts it. The scene with the drunk is a good bit: he admits he’s got to be pretty messed-up to see the likes of a 7’2″ caveman. Eegah also makes a splash at the club; plus its buffet line has he-man portions.

It might’ve been better to explore the comic possibilities of his fish-out-of-water situation. Instead that aspect is just hinted at. Given the more or less serious role he has, Eegah needs some menacing quality: a hideous mutation, possessing some superpower, something more. As big as he is, he’s not even that convincing as a giant. James Arness was half a foot shorter than Kiel (ok, probably the same height with his elevator shoes), but was a frightening presence in The Thing.

The only scene where Kiel truly looks gigantic is in his first appearance, where he’s juxtaposed to Roxy, in her diminutive ‘bug-eyed’ Sprite. His relative normality increases after he’s shaved. When townspeople freak out at his appearance, it’s probably at least as much because of his obvious primitivism, than because of his size.

It doesn’t help that the owl-faced Tom has no charisma. The blending of rocking-and-rolling teens with monsters in ’50s-’60s sci-fi is infinitely better-handled in The Giant Gila Monster and The Blob. The lead in Gila Monster actually plays a cool character who can sing; Tom’s a wannabee.

In fact Eegah is a wannabee movie: it’s got invited to the sci-fi party, but just couldn’t swing. 2/10.

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