Review Date: January 30, 2000
Released by: Elite Entertainment
Release date: 2/1/2000
Region 0, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: No
Elite has released Eaten Alive, Tobe Hooper's follow-up film to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, on a bare bones DVD. Lets take a look at it.
Judd (Neville Brand) is the owner of the Starlight Hotel, a small, rundown hotel on the outskirts of a small town. In the back of the hotel is a caged off swamp where he keeps his pet crocodile, which comes all the way from Africa and does not ever die from old age. Unfortunately for visitors to the hotel, Judd likes to feed hotel visitors to the crocodile.
When a local prostitute decides to change her ways she leaves the local whorehouse and tries to get a room at the Starlight Hotel. Once Judd realizes who she is, he comes to the conclusion that she'd make a great meal for his pet crocodile. He attacks her, ultimately winning the attack, and feeds her to the crocodile. Soon a local family stops at the motel and when the crocodile eats the family dog, Roy (William Finley), the father of this family, decides to try and kill the crocodile by shooting it with his shotgun. Before he can do this he is attacked by Judd and becomes the crocodile's next meal. Judd then ties Faye (Marilyn Burns), the mother, to a bed and chases Angie (Kyle Richards (II)), the young daughter, underneath the hotel where he locks her in.
Harvey (Mel Ferrer) and Libby Wood (Crystin Sinclaire), the father and sister of the now-dead prostitute, stop at the Starlight Hotel looking for their relative. Judd denies ever seeing her and points them to the local prostitution house to find that kind of girl. Harvey and Libby take a visit to the prostitution house, along with Sheriff Martin (Stuart Whitman). Unfortunately, Miss Hatie (Carolyn Jones (I)), the owner, also denies ever seeing their missing relative. Tired and sick, Harvey is dropped off at the hotel while Libby and the Sheriff head to the local bar for some drinks.
Back at the hotel, Harvey hears the cries of the little girl trapped underneath the hotel and goes to investigate. Before he can free the girl he is attacked by Judd. When Libby arrives back at the hotel she finds and frees Faye, the mother who has been tied up for 90% of the film. This begins the high tension conclusion to the film where Faye immediately goes for her daughter, and soon both Faye and Libby are being attacked by Judd, who hopes to make them the crocodile's next meal.
The film definitely has some good moments to it but how can anyone expect it to top Texas Chainsaw Massacre? And of course that is what it's going to be compared to, since it's Director Tobe Hooper's follow-up film to TCM. The crocodile shots are weak and there's very, very few of them. The few shots that we get our basically of this model crocodile being pushed around from behind. Given the year the film was created it, and the relatively small budget of the film, it's not too surprising the effects aren't all that good. One of the great things about TCM is that it builds up such high tension in the audience it doesn't really need the help of special effects to produce a scare. Eaten Alive definitely has its high tension moments, but overall they just weren't as effective as TCM.
One thing Tobe Hooper always seems to accomplish is having villains that are just plain psycho. Neville Brand, who plays Judd, did a terrific job on the character. He's definitely a convincing psycho, and his performance definitely adds to the value of the film as a horror movie. It's also worth mentioning that Marilyn Burns (Sally, the loan survivor from Texas Chainsaw Massacre) has a role in this film as well. Unfortunately, she plays the mother who is tied to the bed for 90% of the film. But even while tied to the bed she does a terrific job of creating that mood of hysteria with her bulging, fear filled eyes. And once she's untied and trying to save her daughter she creates the mood of hysteria. Just as in TCM, she does an extremely convincing job here. Last but not least we get an early performance from Robert Englund (Freddy Kreuger from the Nightmare on Elm Street movies). He plays a horny local who is pain in the ass for Judd. His screen time is little but even with such an early performance, Robert is quite convincing in his character and it really goes to prove how good of an actor Robert is.
Elite presents Eaten Alive in it's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 that is not 16x9 enhanced. There's a good amount of print damage that appears throughout the film and there's also a fair amount of specks that appear. Colors were a bit washed out, but I think that is expected for any low budget film from 1976. I noticed no grainy scenes at all and overall the image was relatively sharp throughout most of the film. There were a few scenes that were overly bright, like at the beginning of the film when the ex-prostitue is walking towards the hotel there's a front shot of the prostitute that lasts about 3 or 4 seconds where the image is too bright.
I tend to think that this is the "best it's going to get" for this film. It doesn't have the cult following of Halloween, so it's not going to get the major restoration process that Halloween did. I think Elite did a good job here, and while there is room for improvement I doubt that's going to happen with this film. I'm going to score it a B- in Image Quality.
The sound is presented Dolby Digital mono. Nothing too exciting here for sound but it was quite clean and no distortion was heard.
Theatrical trailer only. I was a bit disappointed that there was no insert but if that's what it takes to keep it at a $25.00 price tag then I'm all for it.
Give it a rental. If you enjoy the film then I think it's well worth the $25.00 price tag. Elite, as always, gives a good presentation here.
Movie - B-
Image Quality - B-
Sound - B+
Supplements - C
- Running Time - 1 hour 29 minutes
- Not Rated
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- Dolby Digital Mono