Welcome to the magnificent Starlight Hotel, where the lights are blue and red, and the croc’ll eat anything, even if it’s not quite dead.
On September 15th, Arrow Video, in their extreme awesomeness, released Tobe Hooper’s under-appreciated 1976 classic, ‘Eaten Alive,’ remastered in 2K from the original negative.
We start out in Miss Hattie’s (Carolyn Jones) brothel with quite possibly one of the best opening lines in all of cinema: “My name’s Buck and I’m rarin’ to fuck!” Not only is this line killer, it is delivered by a little known actor by the name of Robert England in one of his earlier roles. Buck is undressing for Clara (Roberta Collins), a new girl at Miss Hattie’s, and when he proposes penetrating her somewhere uncomfortable, she doesn’t take it too kindly and tries to leave. Buck grabs her, and throws her on the bed, where she starts screaming for help. Miss Hattie comes in and tells Buck to grab 2 girls for the price of one, and then proceeds to kick Clara out. When Ruby (Betty Cole), the kindly housekeeper gives Clara a few dollars, she sends her down to the Starlight Hotel with a warning to “not let them know you’re one of Miss Hattie’s girls.”
Clara arrives at the dilapidated establishment and is greeted by the hissing of a crocodile behind a fence. Judd (Neville Brand) checks her into her room. As they walk upstairs, he tells her about the croc and how it’ll eat just about anything. All of a sudden, he stops and asks if she is one of Miss Hattie’s girls, and before she can answer, he goes off on a violent rant, calling her a whore and beating her. Eventually they both fall down the stairs, leaving Judd stunned and allowing Clara to crawl away out onto the porch, but Judd comes to, grabs a rake and starts stabbing her. Realizing what he’s done, he dumps the still living Clara into the swamp for the crocodile to eat.
Later, a family of three, Faye (Marilyn Burns), her husband Roy (William Finley), and their daughter Angie (Kyle Richards), and their dog Snoopy arrive at the hotel. Snoopy jumps out the window and Angie chases after him. Just then, Buck shows up to prepay for a room, and rile up Judd in the process. There is a small petting zoo on the premises that happens to have a monkey. Angie discovers that it is dead and screams. Snoopy moves down to a hole in the fence and starts barking. When Angie goes to get him, the crocodile snatches the dog right off the shore, sending Angie into hysterics. Roy and Faye take Angie up to their room where Roy just irrationally freaks out on Faye and Angie.
Then Harvey Wood (Mel Ferrer) and his smoking hot daughter, Libby (Crystin Sinclaire), show up looking for Clara, Harvey’s daughter, who’s been missing for a long time. When Judd let’s it slip that he’s seen her, but won’t give anymore information, Harvey and Libby to go to the Sheriff (Stuart Whitman), leaving Judd to take matters into his own hands to keep himself, his croc, and his hotel safe.
‘Eaten Alive’ is Tobe Hooper’s followup to his immensely successful film, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’ and was shot entirely on a soundstage so that he could control every aspect of the environment. The ability to shape and mold a soundstage definitely has its advantages: The lighting, with the harsh, blown out, reds and blues, was a character all it’s own, but those colors only in and around the vicinity of the hotel, and coupled with the fog, made the Starlight Hotel seem like a whole other world.
Also, ‘Eaten Alive’ boasts some unique characters: Judd, the owner of the Starlight, is a haggard WWII vet with obvious PTSD, and can go from 0-homicidal in .03 seconds. Buck is a 20-something townie just looking to party and raise a little hell. Roy is a completely unstable, dramatic, mess, unable to take any criticism on his inability to act in any given situation, but is 100% hilarious. All these wonderful performances make for a great menagerie characters. All of the actors played their parts extremely authentic. Neville Brand was sometimes too authentic, according to Marilyn Burns in her “5ive Minutes With Marilyn Burns” special feature.
Surely, most of you that are reading this review have probably seen ‘Eaten Alive,’ but with Arrow’s 2K transfer, it’ll be like watching it again for the first time. Arrow did such a wonderful job with the transfer: the picture is crisp and clear, the colors are saturated, the croc is the clearest I’ve ever seen it, and the reds and blues surrounding the hotel seem even more unnatural and surrealistic.
ORDER THIS RIGHT NOW, HERE!
- Brand new 2K transfer from the original camera negative
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
- Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearin
- Audio commentary with co-writer and producer Mardi Rustam, make-up artist Craig Reardon and stars Roberta Collins, William Finley and Kyle Richards
- New introduction to the film by director Tobe Hooper
- Brand new interview with Hooper
- My Name is Buck: Star Robert Englund discusses his acting career
- The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball – The story of the South Texas bar owner on whom Eaten Alive is loosely based
- 5ive Minutes with Marilyn Burns – The star of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre talks about working on Eaten Alive
- The Gator Creator: archival interview with Hooper
- Original theatrical trailers for the film under its various titles Eaten Alive, Death Trap, Starlight Slaughter and Horror Hotel
- US TV and Radio Spots
- Alternate credits sequence
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film, illustrated with original archive stills and posters