Monday, April 22, 2019

EATEN ALIVE (1976) Blu-ray review

Eaten Alive (aka Death Trap) (1976) d. Tobe Hooper (USA) (91 min)

Deep in the Louisiana bayou sits the ramshackle Starlight Hotel, destination of choice for those who like to check in but not check out! Presided over by the bumbling, mumbling Judd (Neville Brand) and his pet croc which he keeps in a large pond out front, the patron of this particular establishment may seem like a good-natured ol' Southern gent - but he has a mean temper on him, and a mighty large scythe to boot....

Hooper’s follow-up to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is an ugly, dirty, punishing exercise in madness... not that that’s a bad thing. Brand (Without Warning) offers a completely unhinged performance as the proprietor of a backwater Louisiana motel where the guests check in, only to be hacked up with a variety of gardening tools and then fed to the pet alligator. Although the gripping tension and suspense that made TCM such a success is less refined, the over-the-top acting, abrasively mind-numbing score (by Hooper and Wayne Bell), gawd-awful country radio music soundtrack eternally playing in the background, and a truly senseless string of murders weave their own brand of insanity.

Brand leads the race in histrionics honors, mumbling an unintelligible stream of consciousness punctuated by whooping and howling, but his dedicated compatriots are not far behind. These include Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family, Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Mel Ferrer (Nightmare City, The Great Alligator, and Umberto Lenzi’s Eaten Alive!), Marilyn Burns (back for more screaming and running after her Chain Saw stint), William Finley (Sisters, Phantom of the Paradise), Stuart Whitman (Night of the Lepus), Janus Blythe (The Hills Have Eyes), and a young Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street) makes an impression as a slimy hillbilly obsessed with kinky backdoor sex.

Filled with bizarre touches, although some of the best moments are directly lifted from Hooper’s earlier effort (prolonged scenes with tied-up victims, handheld camera chases through the woods, etc.), and while it concludes with a spirited fever-pitch climax, it’s a long and winding road, with Brand’s sheer unpredictability providing the most tension.


Brand new 2K transfer from the original camera negative

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations

Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

Audio commentary with co-writer and producer Mardi Rustam, make-up artist Craig Reardon, and stars Roberta Collins, William Finley, and Kyle Richards

Introduction to the film by director Tobe Hooper (20 sec)

“Blood on the Bayou” – Interview with Tobe Hooper (14 min)

“Gator Bait” – Interview with Janus Blythe (12 min)

“Monsters and Metaphors” – Interview with makeup man Craig Reardon (Dreamscape) (12 min)

“The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball” – The story of the South Texas bar owner on whom Eaten Alive is loosely based (23 min)

“The Gator Creator”– archival interview with Tobe Hooper (20 min)

“My Name is Buck” – archival interview with Robert Englund (15 min)

“5ive Minutes with Marilyn” – archival interview with Marilyn Burns (5 min)

Original theatrical trailers for the film under its various titles Eaten Alive, Death Trap, Starlight Slaughter, and Horror Hotel

US TV and Radio Spots

Alternate credits sequence

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin

Eaten Alive is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Arrow Video and can be ordered HERE:


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