aka: Brutes and Savages, Death Trap, Slaughter Hotel
Director: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Neville Brand, Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones, Marilyn Burns, William Finley
Meet the maniac & his friend. Together they make the greatest team in the history of mass slaughter in EATEN ALIVE!
The Starlight Hotel is a fine little establishment in the outskirts of a small town. The hotel is owned by an old weirdo named Judd who has spent too much time by himself, hates prostitutes and everything about sex and his only companion is a big african crocodile that lives in the lake right next to the hotel.
Harvey Wood and his youngest daughter are traveling through these parts to try to locate his oldest daughter Clara. When Harvey arrives at The Starlight Hotel he gets the impression from Judd that Clara might have become one of Miss Hattie’s girls at a local whorehouse. Together with the local police, they get to Hattie but can’t find the young girl there either. They decide to go back to the hotel for the night, but in the meanwhile things have happened at the peaceful place and their life is now in great danger.
Eaten Alive is made by the same gang that created the legendary Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tobe Hooper is back in the directors chair, Kim Henkel is back working on the script, Wayne Bell does the music again and Marilyn Burns even shows up in one of the roles. For most of them, except Burns who also had a role in Helter Skelter, this was their next film after the grueling Chainsaw movie. That automatically builds up expectations for this piece and I’m sure it got bashed a lot for not holding up to Texas Chainsaw back in the day and perhaps even today. They are however also to blame a little for this cause setting this away from civilization in a swamp land with a crazy redneck kind of guy and a few running scenes does make a connection to Texas Chainsaw right away.
What surprised me in this movie is how colorful, yet ugly some of the shots where. Whatever they where trying to do didn’t quite work for me, but it was at least interesting. This weird look does create some sort of almost surrealistic atmosphere though. The story is decent, but we don’t really get too deep into the character of Judd or the victims and the crocodile who pops up when it’s hungry doesn’t add anything to the movie either. The music, or rather sounds are bad and seems very out of place.
The acting is uneven, Neville Brand (Birdman of Alcatraz, Backtrack) is at times great as the crazy Judd fella but also goes overboard in other scenes. Cult legend Mel Ferrer (Guyana: Cult of the Damned, The Antichrist) is always fun to see, but his part here isn’t very good. Marilyn Burns however has one of the most terrorizing screams in horror history. It’s too bad that she didn’t do even more movies than she did after this.
In the end Eaten Alive feels like a halfway attempt to recreate The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but ending up with something that is quite different. It’s well worth watching once or twice if you don’t go in expecting another horror masterpiece.