Tobe Hooper is one of the reasons why I live in the city! No one does Southern back woods psycho-creepy like he does. Hooper is the master at creating a truly unsettling world where everything, and I mean everything, is not quite right. Eaten Alive takes place in one of those places. The red filtered lighting, decaying hotel, weird characters and strange decor invite the viewer into an experience rather than a story. It's sort of like a car crash. You want to turn away but, for some strange reason, you can't stop staring at it.
Eaten Alive is the follow up to the iconic Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While it's not as great of a film as its predecessor, its not as bad as the critics say it is either. Think of it as a dreamy nightmare rather than a well told narrative. The basic premise is simple: Crazy man runs a dilapidated Texas hotel that has a crocodile swimming around its perimeter. Then, lots of people get killed by both the crazy man and the crocodile. What makes Eaten Alive so interesting to me is that it sustains a a creepy, unsettling atmosphere from the first frame to the last. You almost feel like you have to take a shower after watching it!
Granted, this kind of film in not everyone's cup of tea. However, no one can deny Hooper's skill in creating a nightmarish world the audience has never seen before and, hopefully, will never see again. Neville Brand [Birdman of Alcatraz] plays the main character Judd with a subtle intensity. Crazy does not always have to be big and dramatic all the time. His crazy is often just below the surface until it erupts in sudden acts of violence. He's creepy and convincing to say the least. As an added bonus Robert Englund [A Nightmare on Elm Street] pays local redneck Buck. It's a different kind of role for him but it's always enjoyable to watch Englud do his thing.
Eaten Alive is hard to rate but If you're a fan of either Robert Englund or Tobe Hooper, it's a must see. If you have little taste for the weird and disturbing then you should probably look elsewhere.
RATING: Very Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.