23rd Sep2015

‘Eaten Alive’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Neville Brand, Carolyn Jones, Mel Ferrer, William Finley, Marilyn Burns, Robert Englund, Stuart Whitman | Written by Alvin L. Fast, Mohammed Rustam, Kim Henkel | Directed by Tobe Hooper


After The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it comes as no surprise that Tobe Hooper would move onto another horror based in the south. Taking inspiration from Jaws, Eaten Alive (aka Death Trap), even with some drama behind the scenes, still managed to be a memorable cult movie… Loosely based on the legend of Joe Ball (featured in a documentary on the Blu-ray) Eaten Alive tells the tale of a crazy old hotel owner Judd (Neville Brand) whose grudge against society sees him feeding most of his customers to his pet crocodile he conveniently keeps just outside the hotel doors.

While Neville Brand’s intense performance as Judd does take centre stage there is an impressive cast featured in Eaten Alive, especially for fans of cult films. With Robert Englund in one of his earliest horror roles, Carolyn Jones, Mel Ferrer, William Finley, and Marilyn Burns in the cast, just the mention of these names should catch any film fans attention.

I remember watching Eaten Alive years ago on television, and with the surreal lighting on show, the print used wasn’t the best on the small television screen, so a lot of the detail was lost. Now on Blu-ray and on a screen that shows it off to its full potential, Eaten Alive easily looks the best it’s ever been. Even in the commentary the people who made the film comment on how improved it looks, even when compared to the original showing that they attended. Now that we are seeing it with a more suitable level of detail, the colourful lighting allows us to really see the films potential.

While Eaten Alive isn’t really the best of Hooper’s films it is still entertaining. Feeling exploitative at times, and surprisingly intense, the crocodile itself may not be the most impressive of monsters, but when you hear about the struggles the crew had actually getting it to work, you have to feel impressed that they managed to feature it in the film at all.

Arrow Video have added plenty of special features to this release. With plenty of interviews on the disc, the highlight has to be a special look at Robert Englund’s character Buck. It is interesting to hear the actor talk about his early career and his decisions to move into horror. As one of the biggest names in the genre now, we see the true origins of the icon, and this was a decade before A Nightmare on Elm Street became huge. The documentaries and commentary provide you with everything you need to know about the film. Including the stories of behind the scenes drama and troubled actors, it may be fair to say that the stories told are often more interesting than the film itself.

Not the most impressive of horror films, Eaten Alive still manages to entertain fans of older horrors. Arguably, a film that gets better with age, the spotless transfer really shows the film off at its best. Maybe not on the level of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre or Poltergeist, Eaten Alive is still a fantastic glimpse into the twisted world of Tobe Hooper and his obsession with the craziness of the human condition.

**** 4/5

Eaten Alive is available on dual format DVD and Blu-ray now from Arrow Video.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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