Movie Review: Eaten Alive (1977) (Blu-Ray)

Posted by Retrokaiser On Monday, May 9, 2016 0 comments

Eaten Alive is an American horror movie directed by Tobe Hooper, yes, the same Tobe Hooper that directed the classic film, The Texas Chainsaw Horror Massacre (1974), and the fun but not as great, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986).  This film starts off with a runaway named Clara Wood (played by Roberta Collins), trying to be a hooker to earn ends meat (pun not intended) but after getting some sexual requests that even she doesn't want to do to a customer named Buck (played by Robert Englund), she quits and goes to spend the night at a hotel.  Clara happens to find a friendly looking place called the Starlight Hotel, sadly this place is operated by a creepy war veteran named Judd (played by Neville Brand).  Long story short, he isn't a fan of this woman's work, so he brutally murders her and disposes of the body.  Not too long after, we see a family of a husband, wife, and daughter all turn up to spend the night and all without knowing how crazed the hotel clerk is.  We also see Clara's family turn up in hopes of finding her (yeah, good luck with that).  Oh, one other thing that I forgot to mention, Judd has a big African Crocodile as a dear pet and he is willing to feed it anything... ANYTHING!  (Click on "Read More" to read the full review).

The story in this movie is far from being an original one and just feels like that Hooper tried to re-create Texas Chainsaw Massacre and threw in some Jaws in there while he was at it.  While unoriginal, it will not bother you as you will end up embracing it instead.  Story in this film will also hook you in right away as the story is full of interesting things.  A thing I really enjoyed about the movie is that it wasted no time into gettin' to the killin' as we are graced with a scene right off the bat that surely would've been used as the closing climax in any other horror movie.  Sadly, this film also suffers from having scenes that really slow down the movie and will test some peoples patience, however I enjoyed it as it built up tension and suspense and it did all pay off in the end.

The violence in this film is pretty graphic and brutal, this film gets away with stuff that a lot of directors wouldn't even dare to touch in the modern day age of horror films.  Yup, the violence is intense due to the actors getting quite physical during the stunts and it really looks like that they are really going through hell during the filming, I would also imagine some mental scarring as what the actors went through was just plain brutal.  The effort put into the acting and stunts really do help to make this a very fun film to watch, they certainly don't make them like this anymore.

The worst thing about this film has to be the African Crocodile, it looks so stupid and fake to where I couldn't even enjoy it ironically due to it being so unbelievable.  Another bad thing is that this film had billed this plastic creature of horror to be one of the main stars, this decision does hurt the enjoyment of this film a little bit.  I'm really surprised that they used a crocodile instead on an alligator as I'm not used to seeing crocodiles in American films, especially American films set in swamp lands where gators are sure to traitor. Thank goodness that the crocodile doesn't appear all that much, this film mainly focuses on Judd trying to slaughter his victims, that's great as he was an incredibly interesting character.  The other crime with this film is Clara's blond wig, it doesn't look good and ends up making the character look like a bad Dolly Parton impersonator more than anything.

While the crocodile was a load of croc (yup, I went there with that croc pun) the victims and killer is what makes this film very interesting due to the characters being very interesting themselves.  The victims are just at the wrong place at the wrong time, so you'll support them and hope that they get out alive as you will really feel sorry for them being there.  Judd is also a very interesting slasher killer, they've given him a personality that makes him very lively and charming to where he'll even fool you into thinking that he is a nice guy, then his true colors come out and he becomes an incredibly terrifying lunatic that won't rest until you are dead.

Judd isn't the only crazy character in this film, most of the other characters also end up suffering (or is already suffering) a form of insanity and it did come off as a bit random.  The insanity of the characters gives this film an even more psychotic feeling and I love it as it is so weird that it is charming.  This film had some brilliant acting from Neville Brand and Robert Englund and it made for some incredibly memorable and influential characters.   The rest of the actors did a decent job and helped keep the movie together but Neville Brand and Robert Englund just stole the show in this one.  I really loved the way this movie was shot and how the sets looked, it was done in a very interesting way and it captured the life of living in a very creepy bayou and the lighting was incredibly brilliant and helped to create an amazing atmosphere.

Much like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this film was also loosely based on a real life horror story and this set includes a documentary telling you all about it.  The documentary is called The Butcher of Elmendorf, it is about the life and death of Joe Ball, told through one of his relatives.  The documentary is a little on the slow side and can get a little boring in spots but some of the information given is quite interesting and informative.  You will get the influence that this film has on this person from watching the documentary but you'll also see just how much this film exaggerates the story compared to the real person.  The quality of the documentary looks like that it was made as a television special and was made without having Eaten Alive in mind but I was glad to see this feature included regardless.

Also included in the special features are interviews with Tobe Hooper and Robert Englund, they each get two interviews a piece, they are really solid, you will be entertained and also learn from them.  This film also includes an intro from Hooper himself, it is very short and nothing much of importance is said but it does give this film a feeling of that you are about to watch something special.  Yup, this film does include an audio fan-commentary from Jason Andreasson and Matt Paradise of Terror Transmission and that's always great to have as they have some very entertaining, informative, and very friendly commentary that makes you feel like that you are hanging out with your buds for a drink...  I know, I say that every time I review a film with their commentary on it but it is true.

There is also an official audio track (not to sound like I'm taking anything away with the Terror Transmission track) with people that worked on the film including some of the actors and crew that worked on this film.  This commentary track wasn't so bad, it has its entertainment value to it but it did have some uninteresting moments.  This also isn't your typical commentary, not all the actors and crew are all in the same session, so each of them are talking over certain parts of the film and feels more like a collection of audio interviews synced in over the movie.

All of the trailers are included in this set and there isn't much difference in between them all other than that they have different variants of the film title, to this this film having different names all over the world.  Yup, this film has had a few names such as Horror Hotel, Death Trap, Legend of the Bayou, and Starlight Slaughter.  I quite like the name Starlight Slaughter, it is a beautiful name that also has an ugly side to it but the rest of the names are quite cheesy but still suit the film well.  Speaking of alternate names, this release has a feature showing off an alternate opening.  There isn't anything all that special about the alternative opening, the only difference is that the movie title says Starlight Slaugter, other than that, same intro as the one in the main feature.

There are a few image galleries in this one, full of images of behind the scenes photos, movie stills and promotional material, and a slideshow of people reviewing this movie during a post-screening of it.  The slideshows are very interesting, they give you a fascinating look at what went on behind the scenes and it was also fun seeing all of the movie posters and promotional pamphlets.  The review cards are interesting due to what the people had to say about the film, they can be very funny, very rude, and very disrespectful towards the movie and looks like the equivalent to the Youtube comment section of today, yup, juvenile sh*ttalking one liners have been around for awhile, folks.

Like all the other Glass Doll releases, this film comes with a little booklet that can be found in its case.  The booklet contains a very entertaining essay on the film that gives info on the director, info about the film and info surrounding the film, and some information about why all the alternate titles for the film.  This booklet also contains some nice screens from the film, movie posters of the film and also movie posters of other films, and a really nice scan of the Australian VHS release.  The photos were very interesting and showed off some of the more gruesome moments of the film, the posters were very nice, especially since it showed them with alternate titles and in different languages.

Overall, this is a weird but wonderful slasher film that gets away with a lot that can't be done in the films of today, so if you are very squeamish, avoid this one.  If you love your horror films, this is a great gem that's worth snapping up and adding to your collection, it is worth checking in and watching.  Killer flick that's not a load of croc...  I'm probably going to get killed for all those fully intentional puns.

Title: Eaten Alive/ Starlight Slaughter
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Neville Brand, Robert Englund
Genre:  Horror, Thriller, Slasher
Distributed by: Glass Doll Films
Running Time: 91 minutes
Price: Varies
Rating: R18+ (Medium level violence)
Recommended: Yes


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