Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 4th, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1977
Director: Tobe Hooper
Cast: Neville Brand, Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones, Marilyn Burns, William Finley, Stuart Whitman, Roberta Collins, Kyle Richards, and Robert Englund
DVD released: TBA
Approximate running time: 91 mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Dark Sky Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
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 doing what he does best playing characters on the edge, Robert Englund 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 is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original aspect ratio. There is some noticeable print damage and the quality of the image does fluctuate through out the duration of the film. Colors do look good and nicely saturated. Details look reasonably sharp and black levels remain strong through out. Overall the film has never looked better on home video.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono English soundtrack. There are no problems with distortion or any other sound defects. Overall while this mix is not going to blow you away it is more then satisfactory and gets the job done. Removable English subtitles have been included.
Extras include a still gallery and trailers for Eaten Alive, Death Trap (alternate title for Eaten Alive), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Devil’s Rain. All of these titles are currently available or soon to be released on DVD from Dark Sky Films. Other extras include a fifteen minute interview with Robert Englund titled “My Name is Buck”. Englund besides talking about Eaten Alive and working with Tobe Hooper also discusses how he got started in the film business and acting in general. Also include with this release is a twenty three minute featurette titled “The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball”. This documentary is essentially about a serial killer from the 1930’s who feed his victims to crocodiles. Rounding out the extras is an audio commentary with Mardi Rustam, Roberta Collins, William Finley, Kyle Richards and Craig Reardon. All the participants have many wonderful tales about working on this project with the bulk of the commentary being comments from Mardi Rustam. My favorite part of the commentary was the section with William Finley. Overall Dark Sky Films gives Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive a well rounded release that is highlighted with many insightful extras.