Eaten Alive (1977)

Tobe Hooper is one of those funny directors, one real smash and a couple of other successful flicks under his belt, yet people talk of him like he is one of the greats. He is not a bad director at all; he certainly has a definitive style. This was his first attempt at film making after the breakout success that was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, needless to say it doesn’t capture the dizzying highs of his first horror feature.

The story deals with a number of people who happen upon a hotel, the owner of which is keen on feeding guests to his huge crocodile in between jabbering nonsense to himself and anyone else who will listen. All hell breaks loose when a small dog is eaten by the croc, and its all downhill from there. The story itself is all kinds of weak with the main let coming from the characters, the problem is there doesn’t actually appear to be any.

Both the acting and the writing are lacking any real cohesion turning the whole thing into a big confusing mess. Speaking of the acting, it’s a sorry state of affairs when the best performance in the whole picture comes from a fresh faced Robert Englund. You may also recognise Englund’s opening line from Tarantino’s Kill Bill. The rest of the cast are just glassy eyed and boring even in the gorier scenes.

There are a few good gory scenes usually involving jabbering psycho Judd and his scythe, this tends to get a bit dull even with the decent visual effects. While you will find yourself checking the clock, as the space in between gore is pretty damn dull.

Hooper does a good job of piling on the tension when he needs to. His slow and steady editing technique builds on the cheap film stock to create nervy, gritty looking images even though the payoff is rarely as exciting. Although you don’t see too much of Judd’s pet, the creature effects aren’t too great. It looks like the crocodile is made of wood, with no malleable parts other than its pacman jaw.

The film throws some interesting scenes and themes at you, but overall fails to capitalise on its premise and promise. With the gore looking so great, the direction and editing so on point while the rest of the flick lacks in any real depth, the whole thing comes across as a half baked mess but pretty enjoyable with it.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

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