Plot: What’s it about?
The Starlight is as rundown as a motel can be, buried in a remote section of swamp that the building seems to almost be slowly sinking into. The motel is run by Judd (Neville Brand), a short tempered man who happens to keep a crocodile as a pet. The place doesn’t do business, thanks to the isolated location, horrid conditions, and lack of repeat customers. Some of the guests never leave however, as Judd isn’t above killing them, then feeding their corpses to his crocodile. When a prostitute flees a local brothel, she checks in, but winds up as pet food. Then a run of new guests stops in, but their stay turns out to be hellish, as Judd’s temper explodes and he starts waving a blade around. Throw in local hood and sex fiend Buck (Robert Englund), and The Starlight might the bloodiest night ever, but who will survive the carnage?
I like this movie, I’ve seen it several times and I think I enjoy it more each time. Eaten Alive isn’t a classic, even by drive-in standards, but it is a fun movie. Tobe Hooper made this after his smash hit The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, a tough act to follow and Eaten Alive can’t measure up. But if you take it for what it is, the movie has a lot of good moments. If nothing else, Robert Englund’s turn as Buck is must see material, not to mention Neville Brand’s insane performance. The dialogue is memorable too, with numerous lines you’ll be sure to repeat in inappropriate situations. The gore is low rent and not graphic, but the overall insane atmosphere is well crafted. Eaten Alive also has some interesting visuals, including some scenes bathed in various tints, so there are some touches that help it stand out. Dark Sky Films’ two disc edition is impressive, with the best transfer the film has had on home video, plus a slew of bonus materials. If you’re a fan of drive-in style horror or just want to see Englund and Brand ran amok, then Eaten Alive is well worth a look.
Video: How does it look?
Eaten Alive is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This movie will probably never look pristine, but this new transfer does make it look good. This is a step up over the old Elite disc, with a cleaner, more refined visual presence. The print has minor grain and debris, but looks much cleaner than before and no serious defects surface. I found detail to be decent, but the nature of the production limits the transfer in that regard. No issues with contrast arise, while colors look good, whether natural or heavily tinted, so it all comes across well. I know some fans were let down when this release was delayed, but the new transfer is well worth the wait and fans will be pleased.
Audio: How does it sound?
This release uses the original mono track and while this isn’t a room shaking mix, it handles the films’ audio needs very well. This type of material doesn’t call for much in terms of dynamic sound, so the mono format is more than adequate in all respects. The dialogue is crisp, with no harshness or separation issues in the least. The sound effects have no problems either, as they come across in distinct and clear fashion. I found very little distortion present and the usual mono hiss is thankfully absent. This disc also includes Spanish and French language tracks, as well as English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
An audio commentary track starts us off, as various cast and crew members (recorded in separate sessions) share their memories and anecdotes about the production. The track is passable and has some good information, but as if often the case with these edited tracks, doesn’t always have much focus or cohesion. The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball is a look at a real life serial killer who fed his victims to a pet crocodile, while Robert Englund, Tobe Hooper, and Marilyn Burns all provide interviews about their Eaten Alive experience. This disc also includes some comment cards, radio spots, still photos, alternate title sequences, television spots, and over a handful of the film’s theatrical trailers.