Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 1st, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1977
Director: Tobe Hooper
Writers: Kim Henkel, Alvin L. Fast, Mardi Rustam
Cast: Neville Brand, Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones, Marilyn Burns, William Finley, Stuart Whitman, Roberta Collins, Kyle Richards, Robert Englund
BluRay released: September 21st, 2015 (UK), September 22nd, 2015 (USA)
Approximate running times: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £15.99 (UK)
Synopsis: Faye after having an argument with her father ran away from home. She ends up working as a prostitute at a brothel deep in the heart of Texas’s bayous. Faye soon finds herself without a job or any place to stay when she refuses to let one of her john’s do her in the nasty place. Needing a place to stay Faye reluctantly goes to the only hotel in town the Starlight which is run by Judd a mentally unstable war veteran. Faye shortly after her arrival finds out about Judd’s temper and after he kills her he feeds her to his beloved crocodile. Through out the rest of the night more guest show up including Faye’s father and sister who are looking for her. Will they uncover the truth about what happened to Faye or will they be the crocodile’s next meal?
How does one follow up a film like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? The answer is simple you don’t. The problem with filmmaking is that it is more focused on the business end then anything else and directors like actors are constantly judged by their past achievements. Eaten Alive would be Tobe Hooper’s first film that he directed post The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and while it is films filled with many flaws (some that stick out like a sore thumb) it is still a fascinating film despite its shortcomings.
Eaten Alive like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was shot primarily at one location. The sets look like sets which at times take away from the performances. They don’t look like they have been lived in as much as they look like they where constructed. The crocodile is not that menacing and the special effects s a whole are not that impressive.
The plot may not be as strong as it could have been; still it contains many unique characters that are brought to life by an impressive list of actors and actress’s. Veterans like Stuart Whitman, Carolyn Jones and Mel Ferrer all give solid performances in their limited screen time. Marilyn Burns who also worked with Tobe Hooper on Texas Chainsaw Massacre appears in the film as William Finley’s wife. The film has three standout performances William Finley (The Phantom of the Paradise) doing what he does best playing characters on the edge, Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street) as Buck the sex addict and Neville Brand as Judd the war veteran with a few screws loose. Robert Englund also has the best line in the film “My name is Buck and I’m ready to fuck!” a line which many will remember when Quentin Tarantino would have one of his characters who also just happened to be named Buck say that same line in his film Kill Bill. The little girl (Angie) in the film is played by Kyle Richards (is Paris and Nicky Hilton’s aunt) in one of her first roles. She isn’t given that much to do outside of running around and screaming a lot and she is one hell of a screamer.
Robert Caramico was at the time one of televisions most in demand Cinematographer. He also worked as a Cinematographer on classic films like Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural and KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. His Cinematography for Eaten Alive is one of the film’s strongest assets.
Eaten Alive comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release a brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative, approved by director Tobe Hooper and the end result is another solid transfer from Arrow Video. There are no issues with DNR or compression and grain looks natural throughout.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and removable English SDH subtitles have also been provided for this release. There are no issues with background noise or distortion, dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Also this audio mix does a superb job with the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack and the film’s score always sounds robust.
Extras for this release include, an introduction before the film with director Tobe Hopper, alternate credits under the title Death Trap (1 minute 4 seconds), T.V. & Radio Spots – two under the title Starlight Slaughter & two under the title Eaten Alive, three image galleries – ‘Behind the Scenes’, ‘Stills & Promotional Material’ and ‘Comment Cards’, theatrical trailers – Death Trap green band trailer (1 minute 6 seconds), Death Trap red band trailer (2 minutes 10 seconds), Eaten Alive green band trailer (1 minute 12 seconds), Eaten Alive red band trailer (2 minutes 14 seconds), Starlight Slaughter (2 minutes 43 seconds), Horror Hotel (1 minute 42 seconds) and Death Trap Japanese trailer (2 minutes 28 seconds), a featurette titled ‘The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball’ (23 minutes 5 seconds), archive interviews Tobe Hooper (19 minutes 38 seconds), actor Robert Englund (15 minutes 5 seconds) and actress Marilyn Burns (5 minutes 18 seconds) and an audio commentary with co-writer and producer Mardi Rustam, actors Roberta Collins, William Finley and Kyle Richards, and make-up artist Craig Reardon.
The extra tilted ‘The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball’ is a featurette about a serial killer from the 1930’s who feed his victims to crocodiles.
Topics discussed in the first interview with Tobe Hooper include, the initial difficulty trying to find work after Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the screenplay and its many rewrites, the cast and his thoughts on their performances, difficulties that arose during production and constant clashing with producer Mardi Rustam and his thoughts about the final product.
Topics discussed in the interview with Robert Englund include, Eaten Alive and working with Tobe Hooper, how he got started in the film business and acting in general.
Topics discussed in the interview Marilyn Burns include, her inability to find work after Texas Chainsaw Massacre, how she moved to Los Angeles to help her acting career, Eaten Alive, her thoughts on the cast, what is was like to work with Tobe Hooper and how the film has his signature style.
The audio commentary is a lively affair that his minimal overlapping information from other extras included as part of this release. Also all the participants have many wonderful tales about working on this project. With the bulk of the commentary being comments from Mardi Rustam.
Extras new to this release include, a brand new interview with Tobe Hooper (14 minutes 3 seconds), actress Janus Blythe (11 minutes 37 seconds) and Craig Reardon (11 minutes 25 seconds).
Topics discussed in the new interview with Tobe Hooper include, how one of his inspirations for Eaten Alive was Grim Fairly Tales, how is main goal for the film was to a world that was unreal, unable to get a the financing he needed for murder/ mystery film he wanted to direct after lead to him taking on job of directing Eaten Alive, the screenplay and revisions that he made too it, the cast and his thoughts on their performance, producer Mardi Rustam and how he constantly clashed with him while making the film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Janus Blythe include, how she was late edition in the casting process and she was literally about to start another film the day she auditioned for Eaten Alive, shooting on a soundstage, how all of her scenes where actually directed by Mardi Rustam and not Tobe Hooper who had left the film due to a falling out with Rustam. She also talks about other films / projects that she has worked on like The Hills Have Eyes, The Incredible Melting Man and a talk show that she hosted.
Topics discussed in the interview with Craig Reardon include, his interest in Horror cinema, working with Tobe Hooper, the cast and his thoughts about the film.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option and a twenty four booklet with cast & crew info, an essay about the film written by critic Brad Stevens and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Arrow Video gives Eaten Alive its best home video release to date, highly recommended.