Review Date: January 7, 2001
Released by: EC Entertainment
Release date: 1/8/2000
MSRP: $34.00 (OOP)
Region 0, NTSC
Widescreen 1.66:1 | 16x9: No
A series of three murders has authorities baffled. One man was murdered at Niagara Falls with a dart dipped in cobra venom. Two other men were murdered in downtown New York City by the same assassin, an Asiatic man who was hit and killed by a truck while fleeing the scene of his third crime. The only clue the police have is an 8mm film reel found on his body, addressed to one Diana Morris, a woman who had gotten involved with a crazy religious leader named Jonas and who has since disappeared. They send for Dianaís sister, Sheila (Janet Agren
), to ask for her help, and she takes the film to Professor Carter (Mel Ferrer
), an anthropologist. The film contains footage of Diana (Paola Senatore
) taking part in a bizarre ceremony where people are hung up on hooks by their skin.
Carter suspects the film may have been shot in New Guinea, where such religious ceremonies still take place. A street woman who knew Jonas confirms that he and his followers have relocated there to build some sort of settlement in the jungle. Sheila decides to go after her sister. Upon arriving in the country, the local police chief introduces her to Mark Butler (Robert Kerman
), an American who deserted from the U.S. Army in Vietnam, and now makes a living (somewhat) arm wrestling in local bars. After she offers him $20,000 for his help, he reluctantly agrees to lead her to the village in the jungle where the film was shot.
The two arrive to find that Jonas and his followers have since moved on, and are now living in some sort of community much deeper in the jungle. They hire several guides to take them upriver into the tropical wilderness, but their canoe is attacked by a crocodile, which eats one guide and forces the others to go on by land. Then their second guide promptly runs out on them, but heís devoured by a tribe of cannibals. The flesh-eaters go after Mark and Sheila, but they are rescued by a patrol of men out of Jonasí village.
Jonas (Ivan Rassimov
), as it turns out, is more than just a loony religious fanatic. Heís also a sadist and a pervert, who rules the community through brutality and mind control tricks. Sheila is reunited with Diana, but there is no way for the two of them and Mark to leave. Not only will the cult not permit it, but the jungle is thick, and the countryside is crawling with cannibals. However, Jonas begins drugging Sheila and, as he has done to Diana and many other women, sexually molesting her. It becomes clear to Mark that they only have one choice - take a risk on becoming cannibal food and flee the village.
is a bad movie, make no mistake about that. In fact, itís probably one of the worst movies that director Umberto Lenzi has ever made, and is definitely the worst of the cannibal films. The story itself is an amalgamation of jungle and horror elements, with a strong nod towards the real life Jim Jones mass-suicide tragedy that had taken place in Guyana two years earlier. With this mishmash of a plot, itís not surprising that the film contains holes in logic big enough to sail a battleship through - including the nagging question of why, if the jungle around the compound is surrounded by cannibals that prevent anyone from leaving, then how were the cultists able to build the compound in the first place? Very little of the movie is ever given an adequate explanation.
However, if youíre like me - a fan of atrociously bad, cheesy films - you will be able to get some enjoyment out of the film. Eaten Alive
manages to rival Lenziís insane City of the Walking Dead/Nightmare City
in unintentional humor. Exploitation fans will have fun picking out all the footage lifted from earlier cannibal movies, and the dialogue is rife with quotably bad lines ("Instead of buying frozen meat in the supermarket, they get theirs fresh from people like you."). The dubbing adds further insult to injury - the characters of both Sheila and Diana are described as being "from Alabama", which results in some hilariously bad on/off Southern accents.
In the end, though, whatever "camp" qualities the film possesses are undone by itís grim sexual violence and graphic scenes of animal mutilation - familiar sights for viewers of cannibal films. If the movie itself was better, such spectacles would be bearable, but itís not, and I can really only recommend Eaten Alive for the most tolerant horror fans out there.
Letterboxed at what looks like 1.66:1 (no ratio is specified on the package), and lacking 16x9 enhancement, the image is mediocre at best. The back cover says the film was "Digitally Remastered from the Original 16mm Negatives in 1995". Translation: EC ported over their old laserdisc transfer onto DVD. The image has quite a few problems - grain, scratches and blemishes aplenty, colors that seem oversaturated at times, undersaturated at others. Normally I would be more generous in my rating for the video quality, since this was a very cheap shot-on-16mm production, but the fact that EC Entertainment ported over an old transfer, like they have with a number of other releases, is simply too frustrating to let alone. Itís getting a C-.
The sound, in Dolby 2-channel Mono, is good, but not great. There was some occasional hissing and popping in the background, and sometimes the music score will came on too loud, sending me scrambling for the volume control on my remote. There are optional English subtitles provided.
Just trailers for this film and A Blade in the Dark
. The back package also lists a filmography and biography as extras, but Iíll be damned if I could find them anywhere on the disc.
In all honesty, I really canít recommend this disc. If the movie was better, or if the quality of the disc was better, I would say give it a try. But not this time. Unless youíre a serious fan of cannibal movies, youíre money is better spent elsewhere.
Movie - D+
Image Quality - C-
Sound - B-
Supplements Ė C
- Running Time - 1 hour 29 minutes
- Not Rated
- 1 Disc
- 14 Chapter Stops
- Dolby Digital Mono 2.0