Arch Hall Sr.’s Eegah! is undeniably one of the worst films of all time. Nevertheless, if you have watched it with MST3K accompaniment, you’ll at least get some enhanced, humorous commentary. Frankly, that’s probably the best way to approach this hunk of junk film. However, rather than just dwell on the bad acting, pointless story and awkward moments (“Watch out for snakes!”), I’d like to address an issue rarely mentioned: Eegah! is yet another movie promoting negative stereotypes of cavemen.
I’ve reviewed another movie that characterizes someone at 6′ 7″ as a giant.
At least in the case of Richard Kiel (who plays Eegah, the aptly named caveman), he stood at 7 ft 2 in. That obviously comes closer to reaching genuine giant status. Still, when I watch Eegah!, I notice the lack of intelligence conveyed in his character. It’s as if every big and bulky human must be of lower intelligence, right?
The Caveman Life
He supposedly lived an extremely long life, thanks to his consumption of horrible-tasting “sulphur water.” However, none of that translates to intelligence, as he only has that in rudimentary form. That sulfur water just happens to be what’s available in his cave. He also keeps all his relatives with him in the cave, not seeming to fully comprehend the finality of death. He’s not much better at manners, either. Although he is capable of being gentle, he struggles to maintain his dignity when Roxy Miller (Marilyn Manning) rejects his advances. Basically, Eegah barely knows that no means no.
While this might be blamed on his social isolation, it remains implausible that such a character would have been so isolated when, in fact, he was discovered by Roxy while she was out driving around. What are the odds that this could’ve been his only interaction with people in so many years? Slim to none. So, basically, Eegah’s ability to hide undetected for extended periods stands as his primary form of intelligence. Everything else seems to be pure luck.
What Does This Say About Eegah?
There’s no way around it: Eegah! wants us to believe cavemen were likely all stupid, marauding brutes. If someone like Tom (Arch Hall Jr.) can outwit him, you know Eegah’s just about the dullest club in the cave. In fact, it’s surprising Eegah would even capture food, with the way he’s depicted. On that note, one assumes the caveman survived mostly due to dumb luck and that crappy water. Animals stupider than he must have occasionally wandered into his reach because there’s no sign that Eegah had much hunting or trapping skills. While real-life cavemen may have been mindless brutes at times, it’s likely that they would demonstrate a broader skill set in order to survive.
However, am I being too tough on this brute? Is he actually more intelligent than this film gives him credit for? It is possible that I’m totally off-base, or missing something about this throwback. If nothing else, someone made a movie about him. The character has definitely lived way longer than I ever will, and that’s something. Also, the scene where he tastes shaving cream with his freakish tongue could inspire nightmares, which is cool in its own right. So watch this terrible film and ponder these questions during such bizarre moments…but definitely also do it with the Mystery Science Theater 3000 commentary. It’ll be a rough ride without Joel Hodgson and the bots!
What do you think of Eegah!? Has it inspired you to watch out for snakes? Let us know in the comments!