Eaten Alive: Special Edition Tobe Hooper

Eaten Alive: Special Edition Tobe Hooper
It’s hard to imagine a film being more perverse and demented than The Texas Chain Saw Massacre but for his follow-up to the proto-slasher, Tobe Hooper somehow achieved it with the unadulterated madness of Eaten Alive. Leaving the more visceral, frighteningly genuine feel of TCM behind him, Hooper chose to go all out with his third film and present something wild and absurd. Though based loosely on Joe Ball, a Texan bar owner who kept a crocodile pit for amusement and allegedly murdered a number of women, the film centres on the Starlight Hotel and its twisted owner Judd (played by Neville Brand, a bizarre Evan Dando look-alike) who terrorises and feeds offensive patrons to his pet croc. One foggy night, he’s visited by an array of customers (including a young and virile Robert Englund) who flick his homicidal switch and soon feel the wrath of Judd’s trusty scythe and appetite of his giant reptile. Eaten Alive is a sadistic romp that doesn’t try to hide its schlock-and-awe tactics: the croc is nothing more than an oversized plastic model with a flip-top head; the bloodthirsty carnage is sloppily paced and edited; the T&A is abundant; and the acting is third-rate (an homage to the TCM finale proves that best). It’s basically everything you want from a B-movie, especially since it still holds its authentic grainy lustre. This special edition comes as a two-disc set, featuring a commentary by the cast, producer and make-up artist that instantly divulges that the film was a reaction to Jaws, using a crocodile to capitalise on the real life mid-’70s monster craze. Unfortunately, it’s slow moving and rather uneventful. But the featurettes on the second disc make up for it; Hooper is interviewed and explains how the project arose after TCM; Englund gets one as well, where he delves deep into his history and recalls the film — with plenty of Freddy memorabilia in the background. And another is dedicated to Joe Ball, the film’s inspiration, which gives almost too much information. Plus: Marilyn Burns interview, slide show. (Dark Sky)