Released a little over a year after Tobe Hooper's masterful Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Eaten Alive has never quite gotten the attention it deserves despite having, for the most part, finally attained a certain level of cult classic status.
Now, with this fantastic packaging from the fine folks at Arrow Films, Hooper's Eaten Alive may finally have received the "must see" packaging it has always deserved even if it is somewhat destined to always pale, or maybe impale, in comparison to Hooper's breakthrough film.
Eaten Alive is sort of a really violent cousin to the more anxiety-inducing and atmospheric Massacre, a film just as insane as Massacre yet film that doesn't hesitate to go completely over-the-top with the gore. Whereas Massacre, at least in some ways, felt like it could be incredibly real, Eaten Alive looks like it was and actually was shot on a soundstage. The film stars Neville Brand as Judd, the manager of the Starlight Hotel, a bayou-located boarding house with a seriously badass croc out back whose appetite Judd feeds with the poor shmucks who stumble across this decrepit old hotel. Taking place all in one night, Eaten Alive gets its share of guests including a prostitute on the run, a young family (the mom is played by Massacre's Marilyn Burns), a perverted hillbilly (a younger Robert Englund), and the prostitute's father and sister, played by Mel Ferrer and Crystin Sinclaire, whose tracking of their family member made me laugh as I thought of Really Hardcore.
As you can see from the credits, the packaging for Eaten Alive is simply outstanding with the interviews, in particular, really selling this as a "must have" Blu-ray or DVD for classic horror fans, Hooper fans or those who simply appreciate stellar packaging for a genre that doesn't always get the attention and care it deserves. One of the things that could be noted about 70's horror was that we didn't really concern ourselves with the backstory. We didn't so much worry about the psychology of a horrific figure. In the case of Judd, we didn't actually care what created this monster - we just enjoyed the monster. The film itself rides the line between horror and comedy, featuring enough comedy and gore and T&A to please just about every type of horror fan.
There are some, including the film's Arrow producer, who assert that the film's U.S. and U.K. editions are essentially identical, though I'll note that in receiving review copies of Arrow's discs I've occasionally had to switch players when I've received a U.K. edition. That said, Arrow seems to be paying more attention to the U.S. side of its products and I've been much more pleased as of late.
Arrow's packaging includes not only their own new contributions, but they also include the Dark Sky extras - essentially some really top notch and entertaining commentary from a variety of the key players.
As a longtime fan of this film, while acknowledging its flaws, this Arrow packaging is about as good as it can possibly get in terms of sound and video quality, extras and interviews. It's hard to imagine any Hooper fan or fan of Eaten Alive being unhappy with everything that Arrow has managed to include here.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic