Posts Tagged ‘eaten alive

30
Jul
16

Eaten Alive (1976):A Slice of Deep Fried Southern Sleaze

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a Primal Root written review

I’ve spent a lifetime tracking down and viewing the strangest, nastiest, weirdest films that have ever been made. Years I’ve spend renting, sitting in theaters and even buying movies for my collection before ever having viewed them in the hope of tracking down a little nugget of dirty trash cinema gold.  And in all those years, few have reached the levels of sick, disturbing, nasty southern fried exploitation sleaze and depravity as Tobe Hooper’s 1976 bargain basement horror flick, Eaten Alive (aka: Legend of the Bayou aka: Death Trap aka: Horror Hotel aka: Murder on the Bayou aka: Starlight Slaughter). This flick is about as seedy, filthy and low brow as horror cinema gets. It’s garish, lurid, ultra cheap and is missing so much of the artistic flourishes which made Tobe Hooper 1974 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre not only a massive success with audiences but critics too, so much so that it is considered an American classic and even has it’s original negatives housed at The American Film Archive.

You will never find Eaten Alive being lauded over and put in a film preservation vault. Not, this is the kind of movie main stream critics use to wipe the turd crusted asses with. This is the ultimate deglamorization of the horror genre. The colors are thick and heavy, the sets rudimentary, ramshackle, and worn down, totally caked in dust, dirt and filth.  And the first lines we ever hear are during a close up shot of a huge belt buckle coming undone as a young Robert (don’t call me Freddy) Englund exclaims, is a raspy southern accent “My name’s Buck and I’m rarin’ to FUCK!” He makes this exclamation as he bends a young prostitute over and attempts to ass fuck her, which she is less than willing to do. Eaten Alive begins…with a man trying to stick his cock up a woman’s ass… Sophie’s Choice, this is not.

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It all gets even more dark and mean spirited from there, as the madame of this particular Pussy Shack, Miss Hattie (Morticia herself, Carolyn Jones) boots the young prostitute , Clara (Roberta Collins), out on the street for refusing to let young Buck savage her inexperienced poop chute with his throbbing, eager, member. She ends up heading deep into the bayou to stay at the run down, once thriving, now absolutely disgusting and grotesque Starlight Hotel. It’s a shanty out in the middle of the swamp and houses not only the disturbed, one legged, bespectacled, murderous proprietor… Judd (Neville Brand), but also is the domain of Judd’s behemoth per crocodile, a crocodile he claims he got directly from The Nile, which stays in a fenced in portion of the swamp right beside the front porch of The Starlight Hotel.

Clara is chopped to pieces and tossed to the crocodile within minutes of arriving when Judd realizes she used to sling leg for cold hard cash back in town. He flips his shit, tucks his scythe into her young, lovely flesh several good times and tosses her still breathing body off the porch, into the swamp to spend her last gasping breaths chocking on her own blood as she is torn to pieces by the resident devourer of anything made of meat. It’s a pretty nasty, unapologetic and fucking cruel way for this character to meat her end. It’s like Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho…only set in Florida Man’s South. Where these sorts of things are still shocking, but not necessarily surprising and everything is much more gruesome.

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Eaten Alive is a horror movie with no exits, no easy way out from the grueling, unrelentingly malicious story and it’s schlocky tone. From the get go, the audience knows that their emotions, their nerves, will not be spared and, as my close, personal friend, Joe Bob Briggs once said, the key to a good Drive-In movie is that anyone can die at any moment. Tobe Hooper keeps this rule close to his heart in Eaten Alive, as many kind hearted, well meaning characters are introduced and then have scythes rammed through their skulls and an enormous gator tugs at their flailing legs and pulls them in half. It’s that kind of ride. Innocent family pets are shown being bitten into and dragged to their watery deaths while their adolescent owner screams in horror. So, be warned, this movie is for the sicker of us who respect films that can show just how unlikable and horrifying the human condition can be.

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There’s an outstanding sequence where a little nuclear family stops by The Starlight Hotel to stay the night and collect bed bugs. The married couple, Faye and Roy are played by none other than two of my favorite character actors, Marilyn Burns (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and William Finley (Phantom of the Paradise). Their marriage is obviously a slow burn downward spiral into permanent psychosis and Roy apologizes constantly, fantasies about his wife using his eyeball as an ash tray and barks all night. It’s a tense, wholly bizarre marriage filled with passive aggressive behavior and absolute batshit crazy behavior. I’m not sure what the fuck is exactly going on here with these two when they’re alone together, but I do feel for their little daughter Angie (Kyle Richards) who spends her time screaming in despair with her hands clasped over her ears as her parents act like complete nutty bars. It’s one of those scenes that I;m so happy exists, because it’s so much fun to watch these two actors go tow to tow and go crazy on one another, but the implications are disheartening to say the least.

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Soon, Clara’s sick and slowly dying Father, Harvey (Mel Ferrer), and his blonde, well stacked daughter, Libby show up in town looking for Clara. Harvey knows he will be gone soon and wants to find her so he can make good with her before his imminent demise. Things ended on a sour note and he wants to be the bigger man and is desperate to track her down. Where do they end up staying? You guessed it! The Starlight Hotel! The two begin to investigate her disappearance which gets the local Sheriff Martin (Stuart Whitman). All the while, Buck (Robert Englund) takes his curvy young girlfriend, Lynette (Janus Blythe) up to The Starlight Hotel for a little consensual sodomy which all leads to a collision course with absolute horror at the dank, gross and inexplicably popular hellhole of a hotel. There’s gotta be a Motel 6 nearby, right?

 

One of the more disturbing aspects of Eaten Alive is the film’s distinct lack of anyone to really root for, it’s lack of humanity and likable characters. There’s not much to distinguish the villain of the piece, Judd, from the rest of the stories inhabitants. We can;t root for Buck, he’s a rapist, a drug dealer and a fucking bully. Sheriff Martin is totally incompetent and impotent as a lawman or any kind of hero. Roy is a failure, a whimpering loser on the verge of a psychotic break down…even Clara’s Dad is so obsessed beyond reason with finding her and comes off as a total jerk. Still, you see these poor sacks of flesh getting filleted by Judd and then ripped to pieces by the voracious crocodile and you genuinely feel bad for these poor, fucked fuckers.  It’s like a treatise against having faith in humanity. Possibly even life itself. Did I mention this movie is dark?

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Some of the women fair a little bit better and are able to save themselves most of the time and work together to overcome the blood thirsty men who happen to be coming after them intent of sinking as much blade into their young soft bodies as possible. But, possibly the only totally sane character in the whole film is Roy and Faye’s young daughter, who is certain to be scarred for life after her long weekend witnessing horror after horror and narrowly escaping being stabbed to death and Eaten Alive… Yeah, I foresee many hefty therapy bills for the rest of this poor child’s life…

 

There’s a lot of joy to be had, also, in watching a young pre A Nightmare on Elm Street Robert Englund playing a pretty nasty piece of white trash dirtbag named Buck in Eaten Alive. He gives his all in what could have been a pretty forgettable character, but that Englund personae pulls through and makes Buck a pretty memorable piece of shit. You can’t help but see the shadow of Freddy in so many of this characters posses and mannerisms. I often like to imagine that Buck is possibly Freddy Krueger’s cousin.

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All this being said, Eaten Alive is a kind of harrowing masterpiece of deep Southern sleaze cinema. The gore is gnarly, the kills palpably unpleasant, the effects all bargain basement which, in it’s own way, adds to the sticky, morbidity of the piece AND there is a plentiful helping of gratuitous tits and ass, which is kind of the sugar that helps this dirty little pill go down. The sleaze on display here is authentic. One walks away from a viewing of Eaten alive feeling dirty and in need of a shower. There’s no deeper meaning to be found in this head first dive into depravity, murder and insanity. It’s a film totally preoccupied in the grimy, the dirty and the disturbing and offers no apologies. There is no light at the end of this tunnel. Only blood, chaos, death and darkness. And what could be more terrifying than that?

I award Eaten Alive 4 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

 

 

 

 

06
Jul
15

JAWS 3-D (1983) Shitty Day at Zzzz World

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a Primal Root written review

“If he wouldn’t have pulled that old crotch trick, he never would have won.” Lea Thompson as Kathryn Morgan, JAWS 3-D

Man, the 1980’s were the golden age of franchise slasher flicks. Paramount pictures struck gore soaked gold with the all night escapades of Mr. Jason Voorhees, New Line would redefine bed pissingly terrifying nightmares with Wes Craven’s greatest achievement, A Nightmare on Elm street even gents like Michael Myers, Aliens Norman Bates and Leatherface caught their second wind in the 1980’s to varying degrees of success. So, how in the world could the third installment to the massively popular and overwhelmingly effective thrill ride that was JAWS fair in the decade of excess? The elements are all there, the setting is Sea World where there is a plethora of victims to choose from! Tourists, water skiers, assholes in Shamu costumes, other aquatic life like dolphins and orcas…Men, Women and Children of all varieties are ripe for the picking! Not only this, but this flick is in THE THIRD DIMENSION! So the action, the terror, the blood, the snaggle toothed gaping black hold of death will come floating right at us! How could this fail?

The Answer? Spectacularly.

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The flick opens with some undersea footage of fish swimming about, minding their own business, when all of a sudden red dye is released into the water and a bizarre munching noise is heard. We are then treated to an extended shot of a decapitated fish head as it’s head reflexively tries to gasp for air…IN 3-D!  It’s just as underwhelming and odd as it sounds. Once this little mystifying bit of stupefyingly mundane cinema is out of our way, our carnivorous friend follows a group of water skiers, led by absolute fox Lea Thompson (Back to the Future, Howard the Duck) into the lagoon around the world’s largest aquatic amusement park, Florida’s Sea World! Before you know it, an engineer goes underwater to chains the gate connecting the lagoon to the ocean shut and mysteriously vanishes. Well, we know he’s dead, as we witness some goofy editing, munching noises and a hilarious 3-D severed arm floating into our face,  but we gotta wait for the characters to catch up. Very late in the film the dead body of this guy floats into view of the tourists in the brand spanking new Sea World underwater kingdom. In the film;s one truly outstanding moments, the dead body comes bobbing into view in one of these underwater observation windows. The young teenage girl who spots him begins screaming her head off and tries to run away, when out of nowhere, a person who remains nameless and faceless, grabs her by the shoulder and shoves the terrified girl’s face against the window so that she is eye to eye with the guy’s gnawed up, water logged corpse. It’s a moment of unintentional dark comic gold and is probably the only thing I can recommend about this JAWS 3-D.

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Sorry, got off track there. Back to the story at hand as it is. The Brody Boys from JAWS and JAWS 2 are back. Sean (John Putch), the younger one, understandably, inherited his Father’s fear of the ocean while older brother Mike (Dennis Quaid) is an engineer at Sea World who designed and constructed and entire undersea kingdom attraction to bring in the tourists. Mike is living in sin with marine biologist/ animal trainer, Dr. Kay (My So-Called Life’s Bess Armstrong). It;s the eve of the grand opening of the undersea kingdom and Sea World owner/reckless idiot, Calvin Bouchard (Academy Award Winning Actor Louis Gossett Jr)  has hired prized game hunter and and world renown wild life photographer Philip FitzRotce (Simon MacCorkindale) to come photograph his water skiers.  Soon, the bodies start piling and our film;s scientists and engineers decide to capture the shark and raise it in captivity as an attraction. Against Dr. Kay’s orders and without her knowledge, Calvin decides to open the attraction about six months early before the great white is ready, and all the attention ends up killing the poor murderous, man eating shark. Unbeknownst to the crew at Sea World that just let their prized exhibit and living creature needlessly die in front of about 200 hundred drooling tourists, this great white was just the baby. Big Mama is now headed to Sea World and there’s going to be Hell to pay!

QUE THE BLOOD DRENCHED CARANGE!

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Eh, of let’s just watch some water skiers fall over before getting rescued. The some bumper boats topple over before their occupants get rescued. Then watch in terror as a raft is ripped apart holding a dozen or so people…and then watch them swim away unscathed. It’s honestly the most bloodless, boring, anticlimactic quest for vengeance featuring a mammoth, human crushing, flesh gnawing great white shark I’ve ever seen committed to film.  The only casualty is Lea Thompson’s thigh, which gets a three inch cut in it. It’s pretty goddamn underwhelming. Things get moderately more interesting as our Big Mama shark decides to bust up the Undersea Kingdom a little bit, flooding the underwater tubes filled with victims. Do any of them die? Not a one. They all survive. Still, watching a bunch of crotchety old people and young actors who suck at this profession scramble for a safe room and then try desperately to out act one another as panicked Florida sight seers. You want to be entertained? Just keep your eyes on the extras in the background.

Our big game hunter, FitzRoyce, devices a plan to trap Big Mama in an underwater tunnel and trap her there. The plan goes along swimmingly as Big Mama takes the bait and has a top speed of about 1/2 MPH. However, FitzRoyce turns out to be a total spazz and somehow finds himself alive inside Big Mama’s stomach. The editing is pretty fucking sketchy there seems to be a moment missing as he is one moment swimming away from the slow, mechanical  shark and the next shot shows him alive floating within Big Mama’s body. He is completely unchewed, but cannot make his way back out from inside of her. IT;s really awkward as Big Mama jus keeps flapping her jaw around and we watching as FitzRoyce flails about. Eventually, Big Mama somehow crunches FitzRoyce to death inside her belly and his blood pours out of her gills. Huh… That’s certainly a new spin on an old trick. It’s like trying to eat a piece of sushi by popping the piece inside your mouth and chewing it with your tongue as opposed to your teeth. But why in the wild world of sports would a shark do this? I mean, sure, it is surprising, but only because it’s so fucking strange.

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FitzRoyce does happen to show up in the final scene, still bobbing around in Big Mama’s mouth, as if lodged in her throat unable to escape. His dead body holds a grenade clutched in his cold, blue hand. Big Mama, in a slow motion scene so unintentionally comedic, so bat shit stupid it will leave your jaw on the floor, busts into the underwater control room to finally eat some people. Big Mama gets stuck in the window, but does manage to eat one of the black guys in the room before slowly moving her head side to side to allow time for Mike Brody to pull the pin on FitzRoyce grenade which blows Big Mama to bits, spitting out another lack luster 3-D effect in our face, this time, Big Mama’s chunky, bloody, recently blown out of her body’s jaws. It’s a ludicrous climax to a terrible and half hearted entry in the soon to be dead JAWS franchise.

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The technical flaws in JAWS3-D are a dime a dozen. Literally, scene by scene, shot by shot, the least never stops, from their trouble between night and day scenes, to terrible green screen effects and toy sharks with mouths fixed in place being rammed into miniature sets, it’s a movie of magnificent shittiness. By the end you’ll be wondering why Universal would even bother releasing something of such piss poor quality. The 3-D process makes the film look murky, the effects are scrapping the greasy bottom of the bargain basement, and there’s not a single likable, relatable character in sight. Also, one wonder just what in the world Sea World was thinking when they signed the contract to allow their theme parks be used in a a movie where the owner is an incompetent moron who risks the lives of visitors, employees and animals alike and portrays the park as a place completely incapable of keeping the guests safe. I’m sure their Public Relations lead didn’t was one of JAWS 3-D’s first casualties.

JAWS 3-D is possibly the most poorly crafted and executed major releases I have ever seen. One wishes Universal Pictures would have gone ahead with the spoof comedy sequel John Hughes and Ted Carrol from National Lampoon’s wrote, “Jaws 3, Humans 0″would have been green lighted instead. It would have been directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling, Piranha) , too, and would have probably been fucking awesome. Instead, Universal shoveled this load of shit into cinemas and the rest is, as they say, history.

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What we are left with is an often boring, sometimes comically misguided sequel to a franchise that never should have continued past the original, let alone JAWS 2. It’s entertainment value is based solely on whether or not you;re the kind of person who can crack jokes and laugh through the non stop barrage of lameness. It’s worth watching simply to bare witness to the incredibly plummet from grace. It;s fascinatingly terrible to the point you cannot take your eyes off it/ You cannot imagine the film could get any more laughably bad, but then the next scene arrives, and they trump the previous moment of absurdity in spades.  It;s a perfect suckage machine, it’s really a miracle of filmmaking. JAWS 3-D is possibly the most astoundingly bad  sequel of the 1980’s. And that’s saying something.

I award JAWS 3-D ONE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.  Watch with booze. PLENTY of booze. And strong friends with a penchant for  the dregs of trash cinema.

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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