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Eaten Alive (1977) - Blu-ray Review

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Eaten Alive (1977) - Blu-ray Review

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3 BeersWith strong hues of murderous reds and neon blues, Tobe Hooper’s follow-up to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has always been regarded as a stylized mess.  It is neither good enough nor horrible enough to dismiss without a second thought, though.  It is a movie that confuses and amazes me.  Thing is, in recent years, Eaten Alive is getting some serious reconsiderations in the horror canon.  This director approved blu-ray release from Arrow Video, featuring a new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative, is the first sign of its restored life and appreciation.

The surreal atmosphere of the queasy Starlight Motel is a sweaty mass of skin-sation exploits and some nasty-ass pulp fiction.  You will either love it or hate it.  The fact that it all takes place on a soundstage adds to the overall claustrophobia of the film.  Much of Eaten Alive (including the somewhat clunky direction) is unsettling.  Its murky dream-like qualities and overdramatic acting might not be for everyone but, with strong visuals and a striking set design, Eaten Alive remains a haunting backwoods experience in the Louisiana bayou. 

Hooper helms a hulking camera for most of the movie and the result is longer sequences.  This is a noticeably big difference between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Eaten Alive.   One is tight and focused and the other, while taut in its horror, is a bit more winding in its rollout.  Starring Neville Brand, Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones, Marilyn Burns, William Finle, and Robert Englund, Eaten Alive – as its poster suggests – is indeed a story about a maniac and a pet crocodile he keeps in the swamp next to his dilapidated hotel.   

Long before he wore Freddy Krueger’s famous red and green sweater, Englund was Buck and he states, while unbuckling his belt, quite plainly that he likes to fuck.  Englund’s crotch; that is the opening close-up shot of Eaten Alive and, yes, the scene is as memorable as it sounds because Buck is after some female ass and it plays out quite dramatically for the naïve prostitute (Roberta Collins) involved in this little bedroom transaction.   Englund, as we know, is not one for subtleties and, entangled in the muck and mire of Hooper’s bizarre dreamscape, his characterization of this misguided young man falls completely in-step with the mass-slaughtering antics of the psychotic Judd (Brand) and his perpetually hungry croc.

The rubber-realized Nile croc is not the only animal in the picture.  There is also a caged monkey who dies quite suddenly when confronted with some strange atmospheric pressure when a tonal link is established between the beast in the bayou and the caged monkey.  Whether or not Hooper was knowingly channeling Flannery O’Connor (specifically her short story, A Good Man is Hard to Find) and her southern Gothic fiction remains to be seen, the fact is that this some downright off-putting shit that is quickly shoved down our throats.  Just go with it; the bizarreness is only beginning as a sexually-frustrated Jud feeds his guests to the croc. 

People disappear.  Their loved ones come looking for them and they all end up floating alongside the Starlight Motel's bayou, a little bit of overhung heaven on earth.  Reserve your spot at the table and pick up Arrow Video’s blu-ray release of Eaten Alive now.

Eaten Alive (1977) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
91 mins
Director
: Tobe Hooper
Writer:
Alvin L. Fast, Mohammed Rustam
Cast:
Neville Brand, Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
He's out there and he's got murder on his mind!.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Name's Buck... and I'm rarin' to fuck."
Distributor:
Virgo International Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
May 13, 1977
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 22, 2015
Synopsis: A psychotic redneck who owns a dilapidated hotel in rural East Texas kills various people who upset him or his business, and he feeds their bodies to a large crocodile that he keeps as a pet in the swamp beside his hotel.

Eaten Alive (1977) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - September 22, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: LPCM Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (2 BDs)
Region Encoding: A

The brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative is pretty groovy as the color-soaked film is gloriously hypnotic.  Throughout the 1080p transfer, colors are bold and sweltering and the details in the soundstage absolutely pop with a crispness long gone unseen in the previous DVD versions that have been released.  Textures ripple and fleshtones are warm.  The release is approved by Hooper and, featuring a new introduction by him, is as close to visual perfection as we are likely to get with Eaten Alive.  The sound is presented with an original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the blu-ray).  Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are provided.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There is a new audio commentary with co-writer and producer Mardi Rustam, actors Roberta Collins, William Finley and Kyle Richards, and make-up artist Craig Reardon that accompanies the release.

Special Features:

Along side a Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Brad Stevens, illustrated with original archive stills and posters and a sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin , there are a strong smattering of supplemental materials to feast on with Arrow Video’s release of Hooper’s film.  There’s a new introduction by Hooper in which he “hopes you like the colors” and over 77 minutes of new interviews with the cast and the crew.  There is also a collection of archived interviews and a featurette looking at the true-life story Eaten Alive is based on.  Rounding out the collection is a gallery of over 150 shots from the making of the movie.

  • New Introduction (1 min)
  • Alternate Titles (1 min)
  • The Butcher of Elmendorf (23 min)
  • Interviews (77 min)
  • Promotional Materials (14 min)
  • Galleries

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