Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Eaten Alive

EATEN ALIVE (Tobe Hooper, 1977)
Robert Englund plays a grade-a scumbag who wants bargain butt-sex at a southeastern brothel. "Name's Buck, I'm rarin' to fuck," he says, while we get a good look at his belt buckle. It seems like a similar bit in "Kill Bill" could be a nod to this film?
The new girl with the ultra-platinum perm really isn't all that into him, and the freaky-looking madam of the place throws Clara out. She checks in at the local hotel, where the creepy owner keeps exotic pets, including a ferocious wild crocodile in the pond out back. Pet alligators are just not dangerous enough, apparently. Judd (Neville Brand) tells hilarious anecdotes about things it has killed. For some reason Clara doesn't laugh. By the time she figures out just how far up shit creek she is, it's too late. One vicious attack later and she is croc food.
It's a sign of trouble to come for poor misunderstood Judd when people start showing up looking for Clara. Buck wants to harrass her some more, and her family has been scouring the country for her. A bickering couple stops for the night with their daughter and their precious little dog Snoopy. Aw, Snoopy is adoraOH MY GOD SNOOOOPY! OH MY GOOOOOD!

The traumatized couple acts out deleted scenes of from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe". The dad is not really riding the sanity train himself. He rants and barks like a dog. He has a shotgun and he is feeling deep hostility toward crocodiles which he needs to express through violence. Judd vetos this with a scythe and we get a glimpse of his favorite pet, which is starting to develop a taste for fresh humans.
Judd's wooden leg suggests he has lost a few bits and pieces to the croc himself. He has officially changed lines of employment from "innkeeper" to "spree killer", and it's bad news for everyone staying at the hotel. There's a brutal scene as he beats the mother in front of her daughter. His gleeful malice is pretty creepy as he chases the little girl in the crawlspace under the house. Clara's dad shows up at the wrong time and gets a scythe to the throat.

Mom he keeps prisoner. Buck shows up with his latest paramour and they insist on a room, but the screaming girl still hiding under the house gets their attention. This kid - destined to be one messed-up adult - witnesses as Buck is pitched into the water, while his mystery date does an archetypal slasher-movie "chase through the woods" sequence. Clara's sister finally discovers and releases the tied up mom, but the croc is loose under the house now with her daughter. Judd is extra super batshit unhinged running around with his scythe.
The situation is officially desperate. There is a hell of a lot of screaming and then a little poetic justice as Judd gets pitched into the croc pit, leaving behind only his wooden leg and a mountain of future psychiatric bills for the survivors.
This is a straightforward grindhouse/drive-in ready contribution to the sub-subgenre of "they check in but they don't check out" slasher movies like "Psycho" and "Vacancy". It's nutty and bloody and the plot is about as simple as it gets.


Available On Netflix

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