Tuesday, April 24, 2007

EEGAH


TYPICAL REVIEW

"Reputed to be one of the worst movies of all time." - Videohound's Golden Movie Retriever

THE PLOT

While driving on a darkened freeway, teenaged (oh, sure) Roxy nearly mows down a hulking figure standing in the middle of the road. It's Eegah, wearing a Flinstones hand-me-down fur toga and the world's most incredibly fake beard while carrying a paper mache club in one hand and a live goat in the other. After her father disappears attempting to track down Eegah, Roxy and her boyfriend Tom dune buggy out into the desert to find him, only to have Roxy herself fall captive to the giant. Not having seen a woman for a few hundred years, Eegah, acting like some kind of Neanderthal, begins to make inappropriate advances towards Roxy. (This is a huge faux pas as Eegah is clearly Cro-Magnon or later.) Tom, with the unlikely strategy of running away combined with getting his butt kicked, somehow manages a rescue. Undaunted by this setback, Eegah follows the group into town where chaos... where tumult... (sigh) where mild commotion breaks out.

THE POINT

Emile Chartier once wrote that "nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have." Well, Arch Hall Sr. had one idea; make Arch Hall Jr. into a multi-media teen sensation by any means necessary. To accomplish this, Arch Sr. set in motion his master plan to produce movies that would showcase his son's alleged acting and musical talent. Between the years 1961 and 1965, drive-Ins everywhere reeled under the assault of films like The Choppers, Wild Guitar, and The Nasty Rabbit. But the penultimate chapter of the Hall saga would have to be 1962's Eegah starring Arch Jr., Arch Sr. (who also wrote, produced, and directed the film), and 7'2" Richard Kiel, best known as the James Bond villain Jaws, but beloved by genre fans for his roles in movies like The Human Duplicators as well as every television show ever made in the 60s and 70s.

Where does one even start with this movie? With a warning, I suppose. To the casual moviegoer, Eegah is likely to bring nothing but pain. It has been known to leave even the strong curled in a fetus position rasping in Kurtz-like dread, "The horror, the horror." But in spite of, or maybe because of, its inherent dangers, Eegah has become one of the rites of passage for the true B-Movie aficionado. We approach it like the greatest of Zen Koans, knowing that the answers to the inexhaustible number of "whys" raised by the movie are inaccessible to rational understanding, but might by some minuscule chance be ferreted out if we just meditate on it long enough. Struggle as I might, I haven't figured out squat yet.

Why does Eegah flee in terror from Tom's car when he's already shrugged off a direct hit from Roxie's? Why does a complete orchestra and backup chorus erupt anytime Tom strums a guitar? Why is Eegah's secluded mountain home considered unreachable in one scene, yet Tom is able to drive a dune buggy straight there a few scenes later? Why are there tire tracks everywhere in this uncharted region? Why doesn't Arch Jr.'s aerodynamic hairdo move? (My brain is starting to hurt.) Why, in an American made film, do disembodied voices suddenly yell out nonsensical things like "watch out for snakes" when absolutely no characters mouth is moving on screen? Why are there ovens in people's living rooms? Why, when trapped in a cave and discussing her potential fate at the hands of Eegah, does Roxie decide the best course of action is to give her father a shave? (Must not...succumb...to pain.) Why can no living human being see a 7'2" tall giant until he's less than one foot away? Why is there no glass in the windows Eegah breaks through? Why are the police wearing those hats? (Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.) Why does Roxie's father, the learned doctor, declare that exposure to sulfur is the cause of Eegah's immortality? Why don't we all use sulfur to live forever instead of just using it to get rid of dandruff? (Conciousness fading...) Why does the doctor justify Eegah's existence by quoting Genesis, Chapter 4, Verse 32, when there is, in fact, NO Genesis, Chapter4, Verse 32?!?

Wait, I might be able to answer that one! Anything to stop the pain, to stop thinking about Eegah for even a minute. Like so many things in this movie, this misquote is likely due to budgetary concerns. Arch Sr. probably remembered some Biblical reference to giants from Sunday School, but didn't feel he had the time to stop shooting and verify the exact passage. I know, let's just throw out a chapter and verse then? Even though the book of Genesis features prominently in three major religions, no one will notice if we get it wrong, will they?

The obscure quote which Arch Sr. bungles is actually from Genesis 6:4, which in an older translation reads "Now giants were upon the earth in those days. For after the sons of God went in to the daughters of men, and they brought forth children, these are the mighty men of old, men of renown." and in a newer version goes like "At that time the Nephilim appeared on earth (as well as later), after the sons of heaven had intercourse with the daughters of man, who bore them sons. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown." It's one of those odd passages which has kept Bible geeks arguing for centuries. Just who are these giants of old and who were their fathers, the sons of God?

There are a few theories. The earliest, supported by such heavy hitters as St. Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria, is that the sons of God were fallen angels who bred with human women and produced the Nephilim, a race of ornery giants. Another theory, championed by the likes of St. Augustine, is that the "sons of God" was a reference to the bloodline of Seth and the giants were their corrupt offspring born from intermingling with the bloodline of Cain, a.k.a. the "daughters of man". Yet a third explanation arose among Jewish rabbis in the 2nd century that interpreted sons of God to mean young nobles who married below their rank and bred "giant" offspring, giant in the sense that they were a strong and overpowering fighting force. And there's probably more, but those are the biggies.

This being a Catholic oriented blog, the obvious question arises as to which theory a good Catholic boy should accept. The surprising answer seems to be... anyone he wants to. The fact that Catholicism has no official verse-by-verse guide on how to read Holy Scripture often comes as a shock to all those (including some Catholics) who consider the Church as some all-controlling monolith. But all Catholicism requires of those reading Scripture is that when questionable passages arise they "be attentive to the analogy of faith. By "analogy of faith" we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation." In short, if your interpretation contradicts or opposes the fundamentals of Christian belief as preserved and taught by the Church, you probably need to reexamine your conclusions. We must never forget that the teachings came first, and the Bible came later as a way of preserving them.

So, since there is no conclusive historical evidence regarding the Nephilim, and since none of the three theories presented above contradict any of the truths about God as taught by the Church, a Christian can in good conscience subscribe to any of them. (Although, admittedly, the fallen angel theory raises both weird theological questions and interesting fictional story possibilities.) In fact, within the context of the larger Noah story in Genesis 6, whatever the giants really are is of little consequence. Because of their tainted bloodline, they're presented as just another example of the corruption which has overtaken mankind. When the Nephilim reappear in Numbers 13 blocking the Hebrews entrance into Canaan, they represent a test of faith. Do the Hebrews trust God's word to help them defeat this enemy and enter the promised land, or do they punk out at the first site of overwhelming odds? It's the basic understanding of our relationship with God which the texts ultimately reveal in these passages that interests the Church. Who fathered the "giants" is just trivia.

THE STINGER

For those of us who subscribe to a Christian world view, the same principle we apply to the interpretation of the Bible also works in regards to the knowledge provided by scholars and scientists. All learning is welcome and useful, but the true Christian interprets empirical scientific evidence with the basic understanding that behind everything there is God, and that God is concerned for and involved in the universe he created.

Take the various theories of evolution for example. In the 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, Pope Piux XII wrote that, "The Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, insofar as it inquiries into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter." Encyclicals get translated in ways that often confuse me, but as Pope John Paul II would later confirm, the gist of the statement is that some form of evolution is a possibility in Catholicism. But Pius XII does go on to clarify that certain evolutionary theories, such as those based on Naturalism, are incompatible with Christianity. As a Catholic, if you're going to accept one of the theories of evolution, the physical process of creation is only a non-issue as long it doesn't exclude such beliefs as the human soul, free will, or God's intimate involvement in his creation. But those who favor a more scientific view shouldn't feel singled out. Those same guidelines apply to everyone whether they believe man showed up on the sixth day or the sixth millionth year.

12 comments:

Archistrategos said...

This is an awesome blog. You should defintely review the original Japanese 'Gojira'. IMO, it's an infintely more poignant and eloquent film than even the original .King Kong'. And more Hammer Films! Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing... man, they were the bomb. Keep up the good work!

Mr. Doob said...

Hot dog! It's finally here!

Ah...the mystery that is Eeegah!.

Nicely done, my friend. I defy anyone to say the words "I read n article about the movie Eegah! and came away having learned something positive and enlightening." to any film buff.

They'll give you a knuckle sandwich to be sure.

But, learn something we have. And no one had to lose their ageless beard to do so.

Well...except Eeegah.

Histor the Wise said...

Very, very nice.

Histor

EegahInc said...

Thanks again to everyone who takes the time to stop by and drop a note.

Ask and ye shall receive! Archistrategos, both of your suggestions are already in the works and should show up within the next few reviews.

WindWhisperer said...

Hi fellow B-Movie lover...this is an awesome blog. I see you appreciate all the creative camp that goes into these movies...a lot of them are gems. Nothing cheers me up more than a good B-Movie when all is wrong with the world around me. PLEASE publish a "best of" or "most recommended" list...

EegahInc said...

More kind words? Please...don't...stop.

I hadn't thought of making a "most recommended" list. That's a tough one. I'm open to suggestions on how such a list should be put together. Should I just pick my favorites? Maybe I should I choose a top representative from each sub-genre; you know, best Space Opera, best Juvenile Delinquent movie, best Rubber Suit, that type of thing. You might need to give me a little while to think about this one.

Mr. Doob said...

oooh...genre specific suggestions.

Space Opera...could the Black Hole be on the horizon? You wouldn't cop out & go for Plan 9. Nah.

This blog is abundant with possibilities.

Chris Lewis said...

Thanks to YouTube many of the films you're talking about are available in their entirety (in 10-minute chunks of course.) I'm a big MST3k fan so I am familiar with lots of these. I would love to see your thoughts on Sidehackers, Jungle Goddess, and The Incredibly Strange Creature who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies.

EegahInc said...

Great suggestions! I was having lunch with a client one day, and he began to tell me how they filmed a movie back in the 60s in the town square where we were eating. Once I recognized it, I got all excited and blurted out SIDEHACKERS! He didn't seem as impressed as I was.

D. G. D. Davidson said...

My favorite interpretation of the nephilim passage is in the footnotes of the NAB, and oddly enough, I arrived at it independently: I don't consider the passage an historical fact, but regard it as a means of incorporating the stories of half-man, half-god heroes with which the original reader of Genesis would have been familiar; you know, all those pagan myths like Gilgamesh.

St. Justin Martyr and those others, including some biblical writers who make oblique references, were dependent on First Enoch, an apocryphal book worth reading. It's first part is "The Book of the Giants," which describes the fallen angels (the Watchers) who seduce human women and produce a race of cannibal giants who then become malignant spirits. The biblical book of Jude actually quotes First Enoch directly.

Fictional possibilities, ah yes. Do a search on Amazon for "Nephilim" and you will see the fictional possibilities. As you might say, the horror...the horror....

Oh, speaking of which, here's an utterly awful movie for you: The Sci Fi Channel's The Fallen Ones. Yet another nephilim story.

EegahInc said...

The Fallen Ones? My wife keeps asking how it's possible that there exists a single movie I haven't seen, but, there's another one. I'll be checking for it on Netflix tonight.

D. G. D. Davidson said...

Well, Sci Fi is a factory for ultra-bad made-for-TV movies, so it's hardly surprising that a few have slipped by you. As you are a B-movie buff, I'm something, slightly, of a nephilim buff (is that a real term?), so naturally I run into things like that.