Eaten Alive (1976)

eaten alive poster 1976 movie
3.0 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 2/10
Visuals: 4/10

Grindhouse type movie to the max

Expected more from Tobe Hooper after Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Movie Info

Movie Name: Eaten Alive

Studio: Mars Production Corporation

Genre(s): Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  October 1976

MPAA Rating:  R

eaten alive crocodile

Need me some human flesh!

In a small hotel called the Starlight in Texas, Judd (Neville Brand) lives with his pet-tourist attraction crocodile. When a girl named Clara Wood (Roberta Collins) leaves the local house of prostitution and ends up at Judd’s, a tragedy occurs and Judd realizes he’s got to cover his tracks. The problem is compounded by the arrival at the hotel of a family (William Finley, Marilyn Burns, and Kyle Richards) and Clara’s father (Mel Ferrer) and sister Libby (Crystin Sinclaire). The net is closing in on Judd, and Judd will do anything to protect himself and his crocodile.

Directed by Tobe Hooper, Eaten Alive is a low budget horror film. Following Hooper’s acclaimed The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974, the film was met with mixed to negative reviews and criticism for the violence.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a classic. With it Hooper upended a lot of standard horror movie tropes and created a new genre of horror cinema. I hadn’t seen Eaten Alive, but I had high hopes that it would match the dirty gritty nature of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre…unfortunately, Hooper disappointed.

eaten alive 1976 nevelle brand judd sythe

Wait…is this a serial killer movie or a killer crocodile movie?

Possibly the biggest problem with Eaten Alive is a complete lack of story and plot direction. Originally called Death Trap (which would have been a better name), the story seems unable to decide who is the focus…crazed Judd or his crocodile. Loosely based on Joe Ball (the “Bluebeard from South Texas”), the film feels like a serial killer movie that just happens to have a crocodile that offs the occasional person. It doesn’t have that gruesome, unrelenting nature that The Texas Chain Saw Massacre had and reveled in. It feels kind of like a horror grindhouse standard that never reaches the next level.

The movie isn’t very character driven and it introduces too many characters too quickly. Roberta Collins is given a rather Janet Leigh role at the beginning of the film while her family played by Mel Ferrer and Crystin Sinclaire seem just like random extra fodder (along with Stuart Whitman as the sheriff). The family played by Marilyn Burns, William Finley, and Kyle Richards (and the poor ill-fated Snoopy) feel like they should have been the focus of the story. The movie also features Robert Englund as a rather disagreeable “john” at the house of prostitution and the town jerk. Nevelle Brand’s Judd is disturbed and out there, and he demonstrates schizophrenia or some other mental illness…but just isn’t as compelling as the gross-out Chain Saw family.

eaten alive robert englund cocodile

Even Freddy Krueger can’t fight the bite!

Hooper really styled the film past a point of making sense. The early scenes in the movie have a red “Texas haze” hanging over them which kind of makes it hard to see. This is virtually lost for the second part of the movie which makes the opening sequences even odder. The movie in general is dark which fortunately makes the horrible crocodile model barely scene.

Eaten Alive is a strange movie that feels like it has all the pieces to be good, but it never is good. Hooper feels like he mails it end with the movie, and that the movie never gets going. The horror is subpar, the scares are pretty slim, and the raw fear that Hooper has invoked in other films just isn’t there. If you are a completist and want to see all of Hooper’s movies, see Eaten Alive, but largely, the movie is forgettable.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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