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Case Number 00366

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Eaten Alive

Elite Entertainment // 1976 // 89 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Chief Justice Mike Jackson (Retired) // March 7th, 2000

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Eaten Alive (1977) (Blu-ray) (published November 2nd, 2015), Eaten Alive (Dark Sky Films Release) (published July 28th, 2006), and Eaten Alive: Two-Disc Special Edition (published October 26th, 2007) are also available.

The Charge

Do not see this movie. Don't let anyone you know see this movie—your despised boss, the ex-girlfriend who killed your dog, even a complete stranger in a coma. Bringing this movie within 100 yards of another human being should be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

Opening Statement

I saw part #2 of "Salem's Lot" on TV and it was drek. "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" was a fluke. Tobe Hooper is bad—not even mediocre—bad.

That is a quote from a journal kept by a crewmember of The Evil Dead, speaking of Tobe Hooper's 1979 television mini-series. It could very well apply to Eaten Alive.

The Evidence

Tobe Hooper made a name for himself in horror movie circles with his first directorial effort, 1974's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Based on serial killer Ed Gein (whose life also inspired Psycho and Silence Of The Lambs), it was a chilling slasher movie classic. His follow-up effort was Eaten Alive. If it says anything, it was released under seven other titles, no doubt to disguise its bad word of mouth. For the record, the other titles were: Brutes and Savages, Death Trap, Horror Hotel, Horror Hotel Massacre, Legend of the Bayou, Murder on the Bayou, and (best of all) Starlight Slaughter.

There are bad movies, and then there is Eaten Alive. I thought I had seen the worst of the bad horror movies when I reviewed Tower of Evil. It looks like Psycho (the original, not Gus Van Sant's version) next to Eaten Alive. I'd rather sit through a Barney marathon, or be dragged behind a semi, or allow parakeets to eat my genitals than watch this movie again.

The plot, such as it is, revolves around a crazy old guy named Judd who runs the Starlight Motel on a swamp in Florida. He listens to bad country music, talks to himself, and keeps a pet alligator. Oh, and he likes to kill the patrons of his motel with farming implements and feed them to the alligator. That's pretty much the entire movie. Judd rambles. Country music that you wouldn't even hear in a truck stop in the heart of Arkansas plays unendingly. Women show their breasts and scream. A fake alligator eats people. And then, mercifully, the movie ends.

Image quality is terrible. Much of the movie looks like it was edited together with scissors and Scotch tape. It's grainy and washed out and blurry. Audio is presented in two-channel mono, or stereo, I'm not sure which, and I don't want to risk damaging my DVD player or my fragile mental health by inserting the disc again. The only extra is a theatrical trailer. I felt that watching the movie was bad enough, so I didn't bother with the trailer.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

I'm glad there's at least one DVD distributor in the world that has the guts to release movies this bad. Elite Entertainment, my hat is off to you.

There are a few other interesting tidbits I'll include for you movie fans:

Tobe Hooper, director of this mess, is the brother of actor Dennis Hopper. In case you're wondering, Dennis is the one who changed the spelling of his last name. I can't confirm this little piece of trivia anywhere, but if you watch Eaten Alive (and I pray to all things sacred and holy that you do NOT), you'll notice a mannequin in Judd's living room that looks exactly like the one in Dennis Hopper's hideout in Speed. I recall reading somewhere that the mannequin in Speed was a specific homage to an earlier movie, but I can't remember if it was to one of Dennis' movies or to this piece of garbage made by his brother.

There are a few cast members that were suckered into appearing that you might recognize from other sources. Carolyn Jones, who was Morticia Addams in the original Addams Family television show, plays Miss Hattie, the local brothel-keeper. Neville Brand, the mumbling Judd, appeared in many classic movies such as Tora! Tora! Tora!, Birdman of Alcatraz, and Disney's That Darn Cat!, and played Al Capone in the original "Untouchables" TV series opposite Robert Stack as Eliot Ness. But most recognizable of all (or maybe not, without any makeup) is Robert Englund. Eight years later, he would create a horror icon as Freddy Kruger in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Closing Statement

There could be no better summary than to say: "It sucked."

My apologies to the makers of Scotch tape for sullying their product's reputation by mentioning it in conjunction with this movie.

The Verdict

My brain is still too numbed by the movie to deliver a witty verdict. Case dismissed.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 13
Audio: 13
Extras: 0
Acting: 13
Story: 0
Judgment: 8

Special Commendations

• Bottom 100 Discs: #2

Perp Profile

Studio: Elite Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 1976
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Theatrical Trailer


• IMDb

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