review archive - articles - podcast - contact us


1976 - 91m.

Robert Englund sets the tone in this wacky flick when he proclaims that he's Buck and he's rarin' to f*&# and then proceeds to try to force himself on a prostitute (played by Roberta Collins) and put his johnson where the sun don't shine. I was quite taken aback by this scene because although The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a grimy film, it feels threatening as opposed to sleazy. Eaten Alive, on the other hand, plays almost like a live action version of a Ralph Bakshi cartoon populated by rednecks and carries a mean-spirited tone throughout that almost feels like it was made out of spite. We have a number of tasteless male characters, Marilyn Burns abused and screaming, exploitative nudity, and a cheesy crocodile that feeds on the victims of an insane hotel owner. Although I certainly see the appeal of this film as in a grindhouse kind of way, it does not feel like it should be the follow-up to one of the greatest horror pictures ever made.

Neville Brand stars as Judd, the nutty owner of a backwoods hotel who keeps his large reptile pet in a backyard pen. We soon learn that he enjoys murdering people and feeding them to the gator for reasons unknown. Before long, a family arrives at the hotel looking to crash for the night. After an awkward moment between the family dog and the croc, the family go to their room where the dad (William Finley - Phantom of the Paradise) inexplicably acts like like a complete freakshow (complete with barking and a weird screech) while his wife (Marilyn Burns - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) tries to control their child. Dad is soon dispatched by Judd and Mom is tied to the bed while Judd goes searching for the daughter (Kyle Richards) who is hiding under the house. Meanwhile, a man (Mel Ferrer) and his daughter Libby (Crystin Sinclaire) are in town searching for the missing girl that Buck was trying to have his way with and enlist the help of the local sheriff (Stuart Whitman). Eventually, the various characters make their way to the hotel and have run-ins with Judd and his pet. The film is loosely based on the story of serial killed named Joe Ball who also had pet reptiles in a pond.

I first saw this movie on a worn-out VHS tape and I did not enjoy it very much mainly due to the fact that the picture was really dark and I couldn't see a lot of the action. I was also expecting something great from Tobe Hooper and was hoping for the unflinching horror of Texas Chainsaw. Instead, I got what felt like a really low budget movie that was boring and had a villain that wasn't very fun to watch. I am still not a fan of Brand's performance but watching this on the Arrow Films blu-ray gave me more of an appreciation for it as there are some weird elements and a tone that set it apart from other movies of this nature. The movie has a unique look in that it was filmed entirely in studio and feels like it. Adding to this are some creative lighting setups that result in a bit of a comic book feel like Creepshow. This is one of those movies that is not a lot of fun to watch but I have thought about it quite a bit after the fact just because it is so unique. I'm not saying it is a good movie but it is certainly different and you can tell it was directed by someone who had somewhat of a vision. After doing some research, it sounds like Hooper had his hands full with Brand and also had difficulty with the producers which may be why the film seems somewhat unfocused.

Marilyn Burns gives a stellar performance in Texas Chainsaw and it is nice to see her in this as she was not in a lot of movies. It's too bad she didn't have more to do other than thrash around on a bed and scream and take more abuse. Englund gives a glimpse of where Freddy came from with his portrayal of Buck and he relishes his role of being a pervy slimeball who is somehow able to attract the ladies. The girl who ends up back at the hotel with him is played by Janus Blythe who horror fans may recognize as Ruby from Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes. Alternatively, horror fans may not recognize the brothel owner who is played by Carolyn Jones looking nothing like Morticia Addams (and under a pile of make-up). Overall, this flick is worth a look as it is one of a kind and quite bizarre but don't be expecting another masterpiece or you will be very disappointed. (Josh Pasnak, 5/5/16)

Directed By: Tobe Hooper.
Written By: Alvin L. Fast, Mohammed Rustam, Kim Henkel.

Starring: Neville Brand, Marilyn Burns, Robert Englund, Stuart Whitman.