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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Eaten Alive – 2-Disc Special Edition (Dark Sky Films/DVD-Video)

Eaten Alive – 2-Disc Special Edition (Dark Sky Films/DVD-Video)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Film: C+



For all the attention Tobe Hooper’s original Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) gets, it is funny every now and again when I get asked what he did after that film.  The answer is an awkward attempt to recapture its style of terror in Eaten Alive from 1977.  Issued a good few years ago by Elite Entertainment in 12” LaserDisc and DVD versions, we actually covered the DVD, the review of which you can read at:





The tale of a hotel owner (Neville Brand) who loves to feed his guests to his beloved pet crocodile had some interesting moments, but the film never had the impact of Hooper’s previous work and this is one of the only notable past such films not remade in the last cycle of guttings of Horror film’s glorious past.  Hooper made many films since Texas and this one, but he never produced another great film and even revisited this territory with the silly Crocodile (2000, now with bad digital effects that make the work in this film look ambitious) and nobody cared.


They did manage to sign Brand, Roberta Collins, Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones, Stuart Whitman and a lesser-known Robert Englund, who make this more watchable, but the film cannot escape the shadow of better films like Psycho and Jaws.  Even with its B-movie cred, the film is even chopper than it should be and Hooper does not seem to always know what he wants to do outside of seeing half-clothed women being terrorized.


The older versions of this film never looked good, especially in cheap bargain versions.  This new Dark Sky Films edition is here for the first time in an anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 transfer that looks more like 16mm print than a 35mm one in detail, though color is very good.  However, the print is not in the best of shape, needs some work and shows its age.  Odder still, all the trailers look like either 16mm or second-generation material as expected and worst than this, except for the Japanese version.


It is a 35mm trailer and despite having dots all over this (which reveals the stock as Fuji Color, as the dots are what are known as Fuji Rot) shows detail and depth (yes, even with the dots) the print used for the film does not.  Sure, the color is not as good, but it gives one the idea of how good this film might have actually looked in combination with the upgraded transfer in its best original release prints.


Hooper switched from Director of Photography Daniel Pearl to Robert Caramico, whose quirky credits include Guess What Happened to Count Dracula?, Miss Melody Jones, Blackenstein, Slumber Party ‘57, The Happy Hooker Goes To Washington and KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park.  He also switched from shooting in 16mm to 35mm, though many 16mm trade-down prints were still being issued well into the 1980s.  His quirky style is not as serious as Pearl’s direct approach.  Add Hooper’s own quirks and the two do not always cohere.  Caramico became a DP on more serious TV programs later, but this still remains his most visually distinguished work just the same.  Those hoping for an improvement over the previous best of Elite will be more satisfied than unsatisfied, but more work needs to be done for HD and future preservation of the film.


Extras include an informative feature-length audio commentary with producer Mardi Rustam (whose name is all over the trailers and promotion materials as if he directed it), Collins, William Finley and Kyle Richards & make-up artist Craig Reardon, plus stills on DVD One.   DVD Two offers featurettes The Gator Creator: Tobe Hooper, My Name is Buck: Robert Englund, The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball and 5ive Minutes with Marilyn Burns, the noted Theatrical Trailers (seven in all), two TV Spots, two Radio Spots, alternate credits and title sequences of interest that may be more familiar depending on any previous prints you may have seen of the film.


All in all, the extras are long overdue, making fans in particular very, very happy.  Dark Sky already did a fine upgrade of Hooper’s original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which you can read more about at:





Until then, Eaten Alive is must-see viewing at least just once and this is now the set to go with.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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