Eaten Alive (1977) The follow-up to Tobe Hooper’s influential Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the much lesser known Eaten Alive was inexplicably a large step down. Like Chainsaw, Eaten Alive was loosely based on a true story. Given the lengthy mundane scenes, low budget set and laughable killings, any truth to the story isn’t much respected here. Regarding the scenes that drag, most of it consists of a hotel owner in a swampy area of the southern states mumbling incorherently to himself (similar to Maniac from 1981). This sheds little light on why he kills (or nearly kills) people that come to his hotel and then lets his giant crocodile do the rest. And that’s where a majority of the laughs come in. The croc, which is usually hidden in an abundance of fog and for some reason in water right next to the entrance of the hotel, is utterly hilarious and the star of this sexploitation horror film (highlights include swallowing a dog and chomping on pre-Nightmare on Elm Street star Robert Englund).
Chainsaw, which had good perspective on location, showed a house hidden in the vast rural terrain of Texas. In Eaten Alive–which has gone under numerous other titles–we really have no idea about the location of the very few settings, which include the motel, a whorehouse and bar. We are shown the front and inside of the buildings and that’s all. And never at daytime. If anything it’s more comparable to a play in a theater. Aside from the presumedly unintentional comedy of the croc and its madman owner chasing victims with a scyth (that thing used for cutting cornfields) the only other redeeming aspect is the nearly constant red hues that provide the foggy atmosphere. Fortunately, Hooper was able to follow Alive with such classics as Funhouse and Poltergeist. [rating: $2] -Kenyon
P.S: by chance, both Eaten Alive and the below film, Intruder, have opening credits in front of the moon.