Film Review: The Choppers (1961)

Also known as: Rebeldes del volante (Mexico)
Release Date: November 30th, 1961
Directed by: Leigh Jason
Written by: Arch Hall Sr.
Music by: Al Pellegrini
Cast: Arch Hall Jr., Marianne Gaba, Robert Paget, Tom Brown, Burr Middleton, Rex Holman, Chuck Barnes, Bruno VeSota

Fairway International Pictures, Rushmore Productions, 66 Minutes

Review:

“[to Jim Bradford, as he is being arrested] We had a ball. A real ball.” – Jack ‘Cruiser’ Bryan

Out of all the films with Arch Hall Jr. in them, this is the best. I first discovered him on Mystery Science Theater 3000 years ago when the Eegah episode first aired. Most of his films are written and directed by his father, Arch Hall Sr. While this one is written by Sr. it isn’t directed by him. That’s probably why this is a better film than the others and Hall Jr. came off a bit more relaxed and natural than when he was directed by his dad.

For those that aren’t familiar with Arch Hall Jr., he was an aspiring pop singer and guitarist that was really into hot rods and the rockabilly lifestyle. That being said, The Choppers was a good vehicle for him, pun intended.

The premise is about this gang of young hoods that chop up parked cars and steal their valuable bits. The don’t really steal the cars, they just strip them and then use the parts to make or enhance their own vehicles.

Arch Jr. plays Jack ‘Cruiser’, who is a hot rod driving, guitar strumming, wannabe badass. He gets in way over his head due to his gang of misfits and eventually finds himself in some serious shit.

This film is pretty damn tame though. It’s like if you took The Outsiders, stripped it of everything that made it cool, tried to edit it down to a G-rating and then de-saturated all the color and gave the lead a guitar so he could randomly break off into song from time to time, than you would have this movie.

In the end, this is a really short picture and it isn’t boring. It’s not exciting but it has some value, more so than the other films from this creative team.

But there doesn’t seem to be much of a point to this picture other than reminding kids in 1962 to not be juvenile delinquents.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: ’60s hot rod and biker movies. Also, other stuff with Arch Hall Jr. like Eegah and Wild Guitar.

Film Review: Eegah (1962)

Also known as: Eegah: The Name Written in Blood
Release Date: June 8th, 1962 (USA)
Directed by: Nicholas Merriwether
Written by: Bob Wehling, Nicholas Merriwether
Music by: André Brummer
Cast: Richard Kiel, Marilyn Manning, Arch Hall Jr., Arch Hall Sr.

Fairway International Pictures, 90 Minutes

eegahReview:

This film is considered to be one of the worst of all-time. In fact, it was featured in Michael Medved’s book The Fifty Worst Films of All-Time. It was also featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Elvira’s Movie Macabre. But if you like Jaws from the Roger Moore era Bond films, then at least you get to see him as a caveman and much younger. Granted, I don’t really think that’s much of a selling point. No offense to the late Richard Kiel.

Eegah is awful. Honestly, it is awful to the point that a new word should be invented for it. Or maybe things that are worse than awful can just be called “eegah”.

The film is interesting, however. Mainly due to the fact that you really have to see it to digest how bad a movie can be. I wouldn’t consider it unwatchable, but that’s because it is just so bizarre and baffling that it keeps one’s interest. It’s also worth seeing, once, just to experience the scene where Marilyn Manning’s Roxy shaves Kiel’s Eegah for the first time. It is one of the strangest things ever put on film that didn’t involve weird sex acts that I can’t mention.

In the James Bond films, Richard Kiel wasn’t a great actor, by any means. However, he was able to convey a sensitive side to his monster-like presence. In the end, he became a likable character, a hero and the audience was able to relate to a hulking beast that was no longer one-dimensional. He is able to tap into that in Eegah, as well. Granted, this film was made fifteen years before he played Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me (and later, Moonraker) but there are real parallels between the two characters.

It should go without saying, that the acting is horrible, the script is worse and the cinematography is clunky and ugly. But you don’t get to be considered one of the worst films of all-time, if you don’t fail at just about everything.

The worst thing of all, is Arch Hall, Jr. He was put in this film because his dad wrote, directed and produced it under the name of Nicholas Merriwether. Hall, Jr. is a weird looking maniac teen that spends most of his time singing really awful love ballads while strumming his guitar in a way that could put a crackhead to sleep.

Also, one of the most horrible things I have ever experienced in a movie is the two teens driving around the dunes while the girl continually yells “Weeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!” That scene goes on for too long and most people would rather headbutt an ax than have to be subjected to that sequence.

Then there is the long action sequence of the dune buggy trying to outrun the caveman. Seriously, the idiot driving keeps trying to go up steep hills with the caveman in pursuit, only to have to turn around, evade the attacking caveman, and go up another steep hill. It takes ten minutes before it actually dawns on him to take the flat ground. Even then, somehow, the caveman still catches up and grabs onto the dune buggy. Then as they get away, Eegah the caveman keeps appearing, as if he can somehow teleport.

Eegah is complete shit. But if you are going to watch it, I suggest checking out the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of it, as their riffing and commentary make it a much better experience.