'Eaten Alive - Special Edition'
(Neville Brand, Mel Ferrer, et al / DVD / R / (1977) 2006 / Dark Sky Films)
Overview: Judd runs the Starlight Hotel out in some sort of swampy place, and is unfortunately a few slices short of a loaf. He has a crocodile conveniently placed on the other side of the front porch railing. The croc will eat just about anything, as the hapless guests of the hotel find out soon enough. A reformed hooker, an unlucky family, and the father and sister of the hooker all suffer various rates of attrition as Judd tries to implement damage control.
DVD Verdict: This is considered to be director Tobe Hooper's "Lost" film. This could be because "Eaten Alive" was released under so many alternate titles...or it could be as simple as this film just isn't that great. Tobe Hooper seems to be with this film trying to create the same tension he did with his stunning Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but fails. Eaten Alive is actually very similar to TCM in many ways. Stray vistors vistit a remote hotel (not a farm house)only to be slayed by a psycho (not Leatherface) with a scyth (not a chainsaw) and then fed to his pet croc (not served up for supper). Neville Brand does a good job portraying the psychotic hotel owner, but his character does not seem to come off near as scary or relentless as the legendary Leatherface. I can see way Tobe Hooper decided to make this film. TCM was such a hit that he probably felt it to be safer to try to copy his success rather than try something different. Sadly this film disappeared from the box office never to be heard from again until the Elite DVD release. The DVD presention is very good, considering how rare this film is. It does have some scratches and color disortions, but its acceptable since the original negative probably hasn't been stored in the best of conditions over the years (it was probably stored in Tobe's basment until one day he decided to blow the dust off of it). This film is still a good buy for the curious horror fans out there. On the up side about the film, I like how Tobe Hooper tried to "liven" up the film by using some unique lighting effects. These lighting effects are very similar to Dario Argento's Suspiria with the bright red and blues. Many consider Dario Argento to have started that whole "unique" lighting effect stuff, but Tobe Hooper actually beat him to the punch by two years! Maybe Eaten Alive was released before "artsy" horror films became popular. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Audio Commentary with producer/co-writer Mardi Rustam, actors Roberta Colins, William Finley and Kyle Richards, and make-up artist Craig Reardon
"My Name is Buck" - Robert Englund featurette
"The Bucher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball"