PLOT: A deranged hayseed running the squalid Starlight Motel brothel in the swampy East Texas woods likes to play by his own rules. So when his sordid clientele doesn't cotton to said standards, the homicidal hotelier kills mofos with his trusty scythe before feeding the corpses to his pet alligator living in a porch-side pit. Sometimes they even get Eaten Alive!
REVIEW: With the unenviable task of following up what is an absolute horror classic in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, Tobe Hooper turned his attention to perhaps an even seedier and more sordid clan of maniacal miscreants. Okay, maybe not, but damn did he try! I mean, when you're opening scene features a pre-Freddy Robert Englund spouting a foul line like "Name's Buck, and I'm rarin' to f*ck!" while attempting to sodomize an ungainly hooker...yup, you know you're in for a treat! Such lewd activity indeed kicks off EATEN ALIVE (aka HORROR HOTEL, STARLIGHT SLAUGHTER and many others), a wickedly wonderful meld of slasher tropes with creature-feature tenets and an unabashed grindhouse spirit. Goddamn I love this movie!
What's so great about EATEN ALIVE - aside from its consistent level of darkly perverse humor shaded around the edges - is exactly that, how well Hooper combines a number of horror genres into one truly bizarre, unforgettable whole. At first blush, we have a hotel slasher flick...as the homely homicidal Neville Brand wastes nary a second with troublesome customers...instead dispatching of them swiftly with his huge brush-clearing scythe. That'd be good enough alone for an entire picture. But no, that's just the start. You see, in the muddy swamp-puddle dug adjacent to the front-porch of the motel, a giant pet alligator lies awaiting. The toothy prehistoric monster waits for anything...scraps of human remains, entire corpses, even threatening live baddies who advance on its master, Neville. The giant fucker even leaps out of the murk onto the porch to savagely pull under an unsuspecting guest. Shite's gnarly!
Tying this all together is of course Hooper's inimitable direction and distinct visual style. There's such a glorious grain and scratchiness to the chosen film stock and exposure - not only perfectly mirroring the sordid subject matter - but also deliciously redolent of the great grindhouse movement of 70s. This is a filthy, perverted little picture ranked somewhere between smut and snuff, grossly exploitative either way you cut it. The stark neon color palate, the swampy steam wafting throughout, the oddly ambient, almost analogue sci-fi score and sound FX...it all works so well in tandem. To me, this is the way a horror film should look and feel: raw, unvarnished, unadulterated terror!
BEST TNA SCENE: At about the 70 minute mark, we get a luscious mirror striptease (top and then bottom) from a buxom brunette, as she shares a randy roll-around in the sack with Bob Englund. Fucking Freddy, even before he was terrorizing sleep he was living the dream!
BEST GORE BIT: A lot of gooey gore scenes here. But if one has to be singled out, I'll elect a fatality involving a pissed-off patron who pulls a shotty on our host, Neville Brand. After firing a round into the Neville's toe, my man retaliates with a hard swoop of the scythe-blade plum to the dude's gut. The guy falls, quakes to the ground, and just as Neville is about to lope the long-blade once more, this time a headshot - the voracious alligator suddenly lunges from the swamp - bursts through the wood railing of the porch like a goddamn torpedo and snatches the sumbitch cold! Not to be outdone however, Hooper gives us the moneyed-after-shot, as the gator slowly drags the bastard back into the murk...tossing and turning his frail lifeless body until a roiling geyser of blood, mud and guts begins to foment like the red sea. F*cking lovely!
HALLOWEEN DRINKING GAME: Rip a snort of the bottle every time:
- One person is killed in the film
- The Alligator rears its ugly head
- A country song is heard