Keith Palmer (krpalmer) wrote,
Keith Palmer

MST3K 506: Eegah

Entering the fifth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I've made it to "Eegah." Along with "Robot Monster" and "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians," it's one of the three films in the MST3K canon also featured in the book "The Fifty Worst Films of All Time," which I read in my home town's library at an early age. That book and its "Golden Turkey Awards" followups may have played some role in pointing me towards a Mystery Science Theater perspective, but I've also become aware of some criticism of their own take on "cheesy movies," perhaps more "conventional" and dismissive than the way the series grapples with them. Even so, I may have had taken some particular interest in the three episodes, and that's stuck with me over time.

Things start off with Tom Servo chilling an enthusiastic Crow down to "absolute zero"; when Joel protests this will mean "no molecular motion" which will "start a chain reaction that'll kill us all!" and pulls on a big rubber glove to get him out of the freezer compartment, Crow falls to pieces. He's been restored to a (very) rough resemblance of himself following the commercial break, though, and is back to normal once Dr. Forrester has replaced TV's Frank's blood with antifreeze. ("Why? Because it's science, that's why.") Then, it's off to the movie, introduced with "on-stage" credits that somehow add to the impression of primitive filmmaking. As the action gets under way, the somewhat plain-looking Roxy says hello to her rather more peculiar-looking gas station attendant boyfriend Tommy (our heroes spend most of the movie gleefully poking fun at him, including a "host segment" in which Joel's face is manipulated to resemble the actor Arch Hall Junior's, son of the writer/director/producer who used a fake name in the credits) and drives into the genuine night for a close encounter with the towering and bearded yet quite clean caveman-like Eegah, played by Richard Kiel. ("Say, could you give me a lift to Stephen Jay Gould's house?") Roxy, her father, and Tommy investigate the desert the next day (a disembodied voice says "Watch out for snakes!", and the "riffing" picks up on this for the rest of the movie). Then, her father changes from a business suit into safari shorts and a pith helmet (and dark socks with street shoes) and, disdaining Tommy's offer of his dune buggy, helicopters into the desert to conduct further investigations ("The Old Indiana Jones Chronicles." "It's Lawrence of Pasadena."), only to find what he was most looking for right when he doesn't expect it...

It's off to the pool next, where Arch Hall Junior makes his best effort to be a singing star and Roxy hears her father can't get picked up on schedule. Tommy's at last able to put his dune buggy (a very chopped-down old car loaded down with equipment and with water in the tires, as he points out) to use and he heads out with Roxy into a "day for night" approximation of darkness ("Do you think we'll freeze to death before the jackals get us?"), where he manages to perform another song with accompaniment echoing out of thin air. At last, Roxy gets captured by Eegah and taken to his approximation of a cave complete with an approximation of cave art, where she's reunited with her father, who broke his collarbone tripping backwards over his bowling ball bag-like travelling gear. Much creepy byplay ("Oh, this guy went to the Torgo School of Fondling...") establishes Roxy has to keep Eegah distracted or face a fate worse than death ("This is the dark ritual of primitive mating; you'll get used to it."), but she does manage to shave off Eegah's beard.

In the meantime, Tommy has been wandering through the desert past insert shots of wildlife, but he manages to rescue Roxy and her father in the nick of time. The distraught Eegah wanders into town and in no time at all has made it to the pool party Tommy is performing at; however, the cops have also shown up and gun him down into the swimming pool. With that best effort at pathos, the movie is over and Tom and Crow rush out to shower the stickiness off.

I've been reflecting for a while that the show did grow "sharper" over time but was doing so before Joel left it; certainly, Arch Hall Junior does seem to make a considerable target. It's still entertaining, though, and the host segments are fun even when they dwell on old pop culture references.

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Tags: mst3k, mst3k episode
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