A group of travelers come to a (Public Location) and are directed to a (Home or Business) where a deranged, inbred redneck Southern lunatic terrorizes them with his (ordinary tool) and hides their mutilated bodies by feeding them to his (Animal or Human). He's been doing this for years and years now with great success, but this time the intrepid group of young people includes (Female Name) played by (Actress) who turns out to be more than a match for (Lunatic) and his (ordinary tool) helps to become his undoing while the single heroine prevails. Loosely based on the misadventures of (real person).
For The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hooper filled in the following: Gas Station, Rural Home, Chainsaw, Customers, Sally, Marilyn Burns, Leatherface, Chainsaw, Ed Gein. For his follow up to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hooper filled in the blanks with Brothel, Hotel, scythe and Pitchfork, Alligator, Faye, Marilyn Burns, Judd, scythe, Joe Ball.
Later, Hooper would GREATLY mix up the formula by having the inbred psychotic hicks travel to the intrepid young people in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, have the inbred psychotic hicks as part of a sideshow that arrives in the town of the intrepid young people in The Funhouse (also, like Eaten Alive, a Video Nasty) and have the intrepid young people move into the building where the inbred psychotic hicks are hiding in his remake of Toolbox Murders (the original of which was a Video Nasty).
Hey, I'm not hosin' the Hoop! I'm a fan! But how many times can someone make the same movie over and over again? Well, judging from the vast number of unofficial Texas Chainsaw Massacre clones out there, I'm guessing a great many times.
In Eaten Alive we're given the story of Judd (Neville Brand), a back woods weirdo who owns a broken down old Hotel and... an alligator. Rumor around town has it that it's really an African Crocodile, however, it's actually a big, rubber puppet. Guests unfortunate enough to piss Judd off in any way find themselves becoming so much AlliCroc chow. Eaten Alive begins with a young, buff(!) Robert Englund (his name's Buck and he's ready to fuck) putting the moves on the reluctant, young prostitute Clara (Roberta Collins). When she won't accept his request for a back yard weenie roast, the Madame Miss Hattie (played by Morticia Addams herself, Carolyn Jones) throws her out of the brothel, over to the Starlight Hotel and ultimately into the jaws of the Gator waiting there.
That's just an ordinary, laughing day for Judd, of course. It's gonna be one busy night for the Croc Man, though, as guests start arriving right about then. First there's Faye (Marilyn Burns), along with her daughter Angie (Kyle Richards) dog Snoopy (Scuffy, who does get a screen credit) and husband Roy (William Finley), who may just be almost as crazy as Judd! If that wasn't enough business for him, right on that very night, the Fates of Coincidence deemed that a man named Harvey Wood (Mel Ferrer, yes in ANOTHER Video Nasty) and his daughter Libby (sexy Crystin Sinclaire). Seeing as how Clara's last name is also Wood, you're looking at the Father and Sister of our poor, munched-on prostitute.
As Libby and Harvey enlist the aid of Sheriff Martin (Stuart Whitman) in tracking down their lead on Clara, Faye and family are in a desperate fight for survival against a deranged hotel manager and his voracious pet Crocodilian. But what of poor Judd? He's been suffering through a nicely miserable life just fine until tonight. Now he's having to deal with a crazy kid hiding under his fine establishment, a dependent who is anything but finicky, a noisy prisoner, nosy guests and frequent visits from Robert Englund... while he's still awake! That's a hard night, kids.
Before it's all over, there is going to be a lot of blood spilled and a lot of dissatisfied guests leaving. Where the story is going is, admittedly, rather predictable (one might as well call this the Louisiana Alligator Massacre), but everyone and I mean EVERYONE is potential reptile snacks. Fear not, though, before the closing credits roll, Collins, Sinclaire and even late arrival Janus Blythe (as Buck's little friend Lynette) get naked at least once each, and generally run around in their panties beyond this (as does Burns on that last note).
There is a fair amount of Gore in this film as is befitting of most of Hooper's works. Aside from that, the script (by TCM's Kim Henkel, producer Mardi Rustam and Alvin L. Fast) is a virtual carbon copy of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, right on down to the suggestion that this was all based in reality. In this case the inspiration came from Texas Folklore Legend Joe Ball, who was said to have fed murder victims to his tank of show alligators back in the 1930s. Some sources, however, suggest that this legend was just that... a legend.
Besides the morbid curiosity one might have in watching all 74 films on the DPP's Video Nasty List, Eaten Alive (or, as it was known, and banned, in England: Death Trap) might appeal to a whole lot of Horror and Exploitation fans who want to see more of what Tobe Hooper could do (this was his first film after TCM). Further, it's interesting to see Robert Englund this way, tough, buff and Southern, and just about as far removed from either Freddy from A Nightmare on Elm Street or Willie from "V" as you can get. His opening line may sound familiar as it was re-used by Tarantino in Kill Bill Vol. 1. While this might not be a great film, it does have its shocking points and its wild moments... if only wild in that self-aware midnight movie kind of way.
What the film doesn't truly have is suspense or real scares. It can be horrifying, at least conceptually, but it never truly achieves real terror. Perhaps it could have had it been truly original, but some scenes are near carbon copies of its more famous big brother. Judd jumps out at inconvenient times with that scythe, he chases a woman through the brush until she can flag down a passing motorist, he traps his prey in familiar ways and he exists in a plot that we've seen before. Take note, however, for some this will be a very good thing. This film was released three years after The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and his target audience were those same people who had the denim scared off of them by that flick. To them and him, clearly messing with the formula didn't make much sense then. It's exploitation, plug something new in and you've got your ad campaign. After all, it's not like Hooper had gotten "worse" as a director. Eaten Alive has a more complete and professional feel to it. That said, it does lack the shocking realism and handmade qualities that made The Texas Chain Saw Massacre the classic it is regarded as today.
Two Stars out of Five for Eaten Alive. It's not the Cannibal Shocker called Eaten Alive. This is the one that made the Video Nasty List for reasons that had nothing to do with the Alligator (though the film isn't called "Eaten Alive" for nothing). It's a highly recommended film for horror fans, especially those who loved Hooper's most notorious film and want more of the same. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go feed my Turtle. He's gotten finicky in his old age and I think he wants something new to try. Any recommendations, Tobe?
Son of a Gun you'll have BIG FUN
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