Eaten Alive, directed by Tobe Hooper, is not to be confused with 1980’s horror movie of the same name, which was directed by Nightmare City‘s Umberto Lenzi that same year, even if the plot is similar in places.
(Note that this review contains stills from the film. And the film’s an 18-certificate. So… y’know…)
Both star Mel Ferrer and both also feature a young woman who goes missing, this film’s damsel in distress being call girl Clara (Roberta Collins) who leaves the employment of Miss Hattie (Carolyn Jones) and gets no further than the Starlight Hotel before trouble begins, namely inadvertently getting hacked almost to death with a rake. And then she’s helped to her feet by the perpetrator, Judd (Neville Brand), the redneck owner, who frequently rambles to himself. Is he now trying to help her? Oh, no, he’s pushing her over the balcony and into the alligator pond where she’ll be eaten alive… rather like any poor unfortunate in Deadwood who suffered at the hands… or rather, trotters, of Mr Wu’s pigs.
There are other potential victims who turn up to this place which is the most rank motel you’ve ever seen. It makes Crossroads look hygenic! Fresh potential blood includes Harvey Wood (Mel Ferrer), who’s looking for his daughter, Clara, as well as being accompanied by his other daughter Libby (Crystin Sinclaire). There’s a family – Faye (Marilyn Burns), Roy (William Finley) and their young daughter Angie (Kyle Richards), as well as a pre-Freddy Krueger Robert Englund as Southern drawler Frank Buck (“My name is Frank Buck, I’m raring to fuck!”).
Who will live and who will suffer a garish exit? (*fingers crossed for the kid!*)
# Neville, Neville, your face is a mess… #
Eaten Alive, originally known as Death Trap, is a very disjointed film but there are some great deaths in it and I love how the outdoor scenes of the hotel are draped in red light.
Some random observations:
- Seeing a little doggy get eaten alive by a plastic alligator, around 20 minutes in, was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. It’s like he’s splashing about in a paddling pool while the alligator from Punch & Judy is going at him.
- And how does Judd vehemently kick a suitcase with his right leg when it’s a falsie?
- How come no-one ever seems to notice what would be copious amounts of blood stains on the motel veranda??!
- There’s also a country music song constantly playing in the background that’s reminiscent of Lurleen Lumpkin’s Simpsons track, “Your Wife Don’t Understand You, But I Do”
Go to page 2 for the presentation and the extras.
The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 theatrical ratio and in 1080p high definition. A lot of the time, the image is pin-sharp, but the print sometimes does look a little soft. The latter is only down to the way the film was shot and not with the mastering. I’m watching on my Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV with a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
As for the audio, the sound is in mono, and while you thus won’t experience any split-surround effects. It’s basic but effective. Alligators eating people are generally noisy.
Taken from the Collector’s booklet about the video and audio transfer:
- “Eaten Alive has been exclusively restored in 2K resolution for this release by Arrow Films.
The original 35mm camera negative was scanned in 4K resolution at OCN Digital, CT, USA. Kodak Digital Ice was used to remove thousands of instances of negative dirt and debris. Some sections of the CRI element were also scanned for completion.
The film was graded on the Baselight Grading System at Deluxe Restoration, London. Director Tobe Hooper supervised and approved the grading.
Thousands of instances of dirt, debris and light scratches were removed through a combination of digital restoration tools. Image stability, density fluctuation and other picture issues were also improved. Some scenes appear softer than the surrounding footage as they only appeared in the CRI element.
The mono soundtrack was transferred from the original 35mm magnetic reels by Dark Sky Films.
This restoration has been approved by Tobe Hooper, whose generous assistance has made this release possible.”
The extras are as follows, and while there’s a bit less than, say, Videodrome and Society, both of which were an easy 10/10 for this category, Eaten Alive also deserves full marks because Arrow’s cup of extras still runneth over and spills all over the desk 😉
They sort-of begin with a brief intro before the film, from director Tobe Hooper. Very brief, in fact. A mere 20 seconds. However, it’s still a nice little addition to a disc like this.:
- Interviews: Three new ones here, starting with director Tobe Hooper, subtitled “Blood on the Bayou” (14:03) where his chat includes the real-life inspiration for Judd. Then there’s Lynette, aka Janus Blythe, subtitled “Gator Bait” (11:38) and “Monsters and Metaphors” with make-up artist Craig Reardon (11:25).
- Archive Interviews: And three old interviews, a 2007 one from Tobe Hoper (The Gator Creator) (19:38), Robert Englund – “My Name Is Buck” from 2006 (15:05) and Faye, aka Marilyn Burns – “5ive Minutes With Marilyn” (5:18), who recommended her parents to go and see it in the cinema, and THEN remembered that the film begins in the boudoir with Buck. …Sex is surely less of a problem than people being gored to death? 😉
- The Butcher of Elmendorf (23:05): The inspiration for Judd was South Texas bar owner Joe Ball, who somehow was a hit with the ladies. I know most women seem to fall for the bad boys in this world, but this one?! Sadly, yes.
- Trailers: Seven of them here, showing the various titles this film has gone through. Red Band trailers pack more of the good stuff into them, but also more spoilers. And I think that if Judd had named his establishment “Horror Hotel”, he would have kindly warned off the public to the fact he’s a murdering fruit-loop.
- Death Trap Green Band (1:06)
Death Trap Red Band (2:10)
Eaten Alive Green Band (1:12)
Starlight Slaughter (2:43)
Horror Hotel (1:42)
Death Trap Japanese Trailer (2:28) – nicknamed The Devil’s Swamp
- TV and Radio spots: Two TV spots for Starlight Slaughter (both 0:36) and two radio spots as Eaten Alive (0:37) and (1:05).
- Alternative Credits (1:05): Opening alternative title with “Death Trap”.
- Galleries: Three of these – Behind The Scenes Slideshow (8:09), and the latter two are a case of ‘press next to get the next image’ with Stills and Promo Material – the first poster of these looking like a videogame cover, and there’s 60+ images to check out, and Comment Cards at a November 24th 1976 screening with viewers suggesting new titles (which could win $100 in cash). Two of them were Croc of Craziness and, ahead of its time, Scream. Plus, a suggestion for the film print of “Burn it”. One viewers even suggested it is “sick”, which in the terms of the youth today means it’s “good”.
- Audio commentary: with co-writer and producer Mardi Rustam, actors Roberta Collins, William Finley and Kyle Richards, and make-up artist Craig Reardon
- Reversible Sleeve: featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin.
- Collector’s Booklet: A glorious 24-page booklet with new writing on the film by critic Brad Stevens – “After The Saw: Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive”, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.
Subtitles are in English, and as you put the disc in, the main menu features clips from the film set to a score that’s all kind of weird and horrible noises (in the horror sense. I don’t mean someone fell on the mixing desk while preparing the disc). There are 12 chapters to the main film, and, as always, I’d prefer more than 12 for the main film.
Eaten Alive is released on Monday September 21st on Blu-ray/DVD Double Pack Limited Edition and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.
he’s clearly such a useless Sheriff that he may as well apply to run Greater Manchester Police!
Running time: 89 minutes
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: September 21st 2015
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Tobe Hooper
Producer: Mardi Rustam
Screenplay: Kim Henkel (based on a script by Alvin L Fast and Mardi Rustam)
Music: Wayne Bell and Tobe Hooper
Judd: Neville Brand
Harvey Wood: Mel Ferrer
Miss Hattie: Carolyn Jones
Faye: Marilyn Burns
Roy: William Finley
Sheriff Martin: Stuart Whitman
Clara: Roberta Collins
Angie: Kyle Richards
Buck: Robert Englund
Libby Wood: Crystin Sinclaire
Lynette: Janus Blyth
Ruby: Betty Cole
Deputy Girth: Sig Sakowicz
Country Boy: Ronald W Davis
Waitress: Christine Schneider
The Cowboy: David Hayward
Marlo: David ‘Goat’ Carson
First Guy in Bar: Lincoln Kibbee
Second Guy in Bar: James Galanis
Miss Hattie’s Girls: Tarja Leena Halinen, Caren White, Valerie Lukecart and Jeanne Reichert
Snoopy the dog: Scuffy
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.
| 1 | 2 |