Eaten Alive (1977)
By: David Michael Brown on February 22, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Umbrella Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 89 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Neville Brand, Marilyn Burns, William Finley, Robert Englund
Screenplay: Alvin. L. Fast, Kim Henkel
Country: USA
AKA: Death Trap; Horror Hotel
Tobe Hooper has had a funny old career. One minute he's making a legendary horror film that will continue to terrorize and astound decades after its original release with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Then he's a faux Steven Spielberg with Poltergeist. Then he's producing direct to video rubbish like Spontaneous Combustion. In between he actually made some interesting little movies; The Funhouse, the delightfully mad Lifeforce and Eaten Alive.

Written by Chainsaw scribe Kim Henkel, Eaten Alive is a sleazy little number about a demented hotelier who feeds his guests to his pet crocodile that lurks in the swamp. That's about it with regards to plot; a procession of oddballs arrives at the hotel little knowing they will soon become the giant reptiles nocturnal feast. In one hilarious scene the croc even chomps down on a family dog.

Hooper shows little of the documentary style he gave Texas Chainsaw Massacre but lets the croc and his actors run rampant. The attacks are gory and the whole film is lit like the red light district in Amsterdam. Subtle this is not. Neville Brand attacks his role with relish; his mumbling psychotic is almost unintelligible, one of the weirdest characters in modern horror. The film features a plethora of horror talent. Marilyn Burns almost replays her role in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. William Finley, a Brian De Palma regular starring in Phantom of the Paradise, Sisters and The Fury is fed to the crocodile and Robert Englund, Freddie Kreuger himself plays a young punk "My name is Buck, I'm rarin to fuck."

Hooper's handle on the horror isn't matched by his use of the actors. Its always nice to care just a little but in Eaten Alive you don't care whose been eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Crocodile is the real star of the film despite the fact it spends most of its time trapped in a swampy cage.
Video
The print is clean but a bit dark. A lot of the film is set at night with a garish colour scheme that doesn't always remain stable but on the whole the film has never looked better. I haven't seen the US disc by Elite to compare.
Audio
The Dolby stereo mix is effective without really astounding.
Extra Features
We have to make do with a theatrical trailer and some Umbrella propaganda.
The Verdict
Entertaining gory fun that while never quite living up to the terrors of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre still retains its power to shock. A video nasty in the UK, the film has some deliciously dark moments that, unfortunately in hindsight, are some of the most effective scares that Tobe Hooper has given us. It's a shame his career never revisited the glory of his Seventies output.
Movie Score
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