29 January 2012

THE URANIUM CAFE NECROFILES/EEGAH/WOMEN OF THE PREHISTORIC PLANET/UNTAMED YOUTH/THE BLACK SCORPION



EEGAH 1962/Director: Arch Hall Sr./Writers: Bob Wehling, Arch Hall Sr.

Cast: Arch Hall Jr., Marilyn Manning, Richard Kiel, Arch Hall Sr., Ray Dennis Steckler

Eegah! Was a vehicle by Arch Hall Sr. that was to help launch his son into acting and singing stardom. Maybe that did not really work out but Arch Hall Jr. was involved in a handful of pretty interesting film projects that include one of my favorites, the 1963 film The Sadist. He was never going to be the next Frankie Avalon or Elvis as his dad may have hoped for but whose to say that was ever the plan anyway. Eegah! (or sometimes just Eegah so you don’t get confused) was produced by Hall Sr.’s Fairway-International Pictures out of Burbank CA and features Richard Kiel (Jaws from the Bond flick the Spy Who Loved Me) as a caveman who has been living on a diet of sulpheric water that has kept him nearly immortal. He roams the mountains on the outskirts of Palm Springs and one day kidnaps Roxy Miller, one of those 30 something teenagers, who, along with boyfriend Tom Nelson (Hall Jr.) went searching for her father (played by Hall Sr.) in the desert. Her dad was out there to confirm the existence of said caveman and himself wound up it captive. Soon Eegah is being shaved and eating lather and putting some pretty forward mating moves on poor Roxy who keeps trying to distract him by wanting to look at his ‘etchings’. The films features a then unknown (and basically still unknown) Ray Dennis Steckler –who also worked as the cameraman- in a small part towards the end of the film. Steckler would later do Wild Guitar for Hall Sr. -appearing, I if I remember right, in the film under his actor name Cash Flagg- and have his The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? Distributed by Hall Sr.’s Fairway-International. Hall Sr. just had that God-given gift for spotting young talent I guess.

WOMEN OF THE PREHISTORIC PLANET


1966/Director: Arthur C. Pierce/Writer: Arthur C. Pierce

Cast: Wendell Corey, Keith Larsen, John Agar, Irene Tsu

Directed by Arthur C. Pierce (Mutiny in Outer Space) and starring John Agar (the same year he did Larry Buchanan’s Zontar, the Thing from Venus) and Wendell Corey (Rear Window, Astro-Zombies), Women of the Prehistoric Planet is supposed to be, I have read, an attempt to deal with civil rights issues in the mid-sixties. Luckliy the film makers did not cast black actors as the ‘prehistoric’ inhabitants of a lost planet –that winds up being named Earth at the film’s end by the astronauts…ooohhh, what a clever twist that was- and instead decided to cast Asians as the Centaurians. Incredibly these alien Asians often talk in short little wise proverbs the way Asian always did in old films. The tag line - “It’s the battle of the sexes as savage planet women attack female space invaders!” is infamously misleading as nothing of the sort ever happens. The words “women of…” were added to the original title of The Prehistoric Planet by producer Jack Broder and some scenes of bathing native women were added –though the scenes are available only in the hard to find foreign release of the film and in the American trailer- and no combating prehistoric women are to be found. We do get see iguanas fried by ray guns and listen to long winded 60’s sci-fi style explanations about the effects of traveling at the speed of light but not one prehistoric woman cat fight. Wendell Corey slurs and mumbles his sentences and Agar is looking more and more uncomfortable in his films roles. Pretty hokey fun.

UNTAMED YOUTH

1957/Director: Howard W. Koch/Writers: John C. Higgins, Stephen Longstreet

Cast: Mamie Van Doren, Lori Nelson, John Russell

Most of the ‘great’ juvenile delinquent films were put out by the smaller independent studios like AIP and Allied Artists but big guys Warner Bros. put out the JD/rock-n-roll hybrid film Untamed Youth which seems to be little more than a showcase for Mamie Van Doren’s various tight, bouncy knit sweaters. The film looks and feels like an AIP production and features a cast of familiar faces to the JD films of the time, which while tame by today’s wanton standards were often to difficult to distribute with their themes of unwanted pregnancies, reefer use and good boys gone bad. The ‘kids’ in this film are really bad at all and are hauled off to a cotton farm top do cheap labor for the farm’s corrupt owner Russ Tropp (John Russell). Cotton picking gets boring and so sometimes Eddie Cochran starts playing air guitar and doing a poor man’s Elvis while the gang snaps their fingers and shimmy their hips. At night they all mill around the barracks and watch girl with satrs in eyes Penny Lowe (Van Doren) slink around like a stripper and sing les Baxter penned rock tunes that all sound like a Carl Perkins’ rock-a-billy tune. The old looking teens are stereotypes from every teenager film from the time and there is not much real action outside Van Doren’s cheesy song numbers. For JD fans only.

THE BLACK SCORPION

1957/Director: Edward Ludwig/Writers: David Duncan, Robert Blees

Cast: Richard Denning, Mara Corday, Carlos Rivas

One of my favorite manly heroes Richard Denning (Creature from the Black Lagoon) manages to romance sultry Mara Corday (The Giant Claw) while, at the same time, finding time to save Mexico from giant scorpions unleashed from the earth’s depth by a volcanic eruption. The scorpions were designed by Willis O’Brian and many of the other monster in the film were ‘left-overs’ from unused scenes from the original King Kong. The greatest menace in the film is not the hungry scorpions (who all have straight white teeth!) or the other subterranean creatures but the little brat Juanito (Mario Navarro) who manages to screw up every imaginable situation trying to be a ‘big man’ and help out. At times it looks like Hank Scott (Denning) wants to toss the kid in a pit somewhere but the pain in the ass is Teresa’s (Corday) son and he needs to put up a decent front if he is goIng to get anywhere with her later. O’Brian’s work partner Pete Peterson did most of the actual animation and do to budget constraints much it was actually filmed by he and O’Brian in Peterson’s Encino, CA garage. The budget also prevented actual stop action animation from being used in many crucial scenes and rather you have the poorly double-exposed looking traveling mattes –an old process that can work well and is now basically called blue screen- that don’t look much better than the mutant lobster in Teenagers from Outerspace. Worth a viewing just for the times the scorpions actually look real and menacing.

2 comments:

Yan said...

Thanks for the info, I'm very interested in those prehistoric costumes.

Bill D. Courtney said...

Yan

They are pretty interesting. More interesting than the stock space suits at least.