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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 11/22/99

Eaten Alive
1975 (1999) Diamond Entertainment

review by Donald V. Day, special to The Digital Bits

Eaten Alive - Star Power Series Film Ratings: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): F-/F-/F-

Specs and Features

82 mins (although the packaging states 96), R, full frame (1.33:1 but looks to be cropped anyway), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, trivia, promotional screen for Diamond Entertainment, filmed-themed menu screens, scene access (4 chapters), languages: English (DD mono), subtitles: none

With a suggested retail price of $9.99 Diamond Entertainment's Eaten Alive is about $9.98 too much!

Ok... I'm going to be completely up front with everyone right now - this DVD has pushed Digital Versatile Disc Limited's (never has a companies name been SO fitting) version of The Grim Reaper off the top spot on my list of the worst DVDs ever created by mankind! Congratulations, Diamond Entertainment, you have released a DVD that just plain sucks! Just how bad could it be, you ask? Well, read on... but first, the film summary...

Eaten Alive is the film director Tobe Hooper made two years after his classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While by no means as enjoyable or effective as Chainsaw, Eaten Alive is one of those movies that is just so silly - it is great fun to watch. The film stars Neville Brand as Judd, a psycho hotel owner who happens to have a giant alligator living conveniently underneath the hotel entrance. If Judd isn't running around with his scythe, sticking it in people's necks, the alligator is munching down on the hotel patrons on a regular basis. It is certainly bizarre and, if you ever have the chance to view a GOOD print of the picture, it is quite atmospheric, with Hooper incorporating some surprisingly suspenseful sequences. The sets are truly unique (the film takes place in a rundown hotel set in a smoky swamp) and the performances are quite good. Robert (Freddy Krueger) Englund as the horny redneck is absolutely hilarious and Marilyn Burns, the only survivor of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, has a role. Even little Kyle Richards (Halloween, The Watcher in the Woods) shows up!

It's hard to watch this film and not laugh at it, especially after the pure realistic terror Hooper brought us with Chainsaw. To me, the real problem lies in the giant rubber alligator that hardly moves and looks like it was a prop bought at a Spencer Gifts "after Halloween" sale. That said, it is still a fun film for anyone looking for a movie that requires absolutely no thought process... just don't watch this DVD version.

I do not have another version of the film to compare the running time with but, clocking in at about 82 minutes, this seems much shorter than it should be. There is plenty of gore and the nudity certainly is still there, though. Many reference guides list this film as having an 88-89 minute running time... Hmmmmm...

OK... now... how bad can the DVD quality actually be? Well, I guess the only way to show you how bad it is, dear reader, is to actually show you some screen captures. As you can see by the screen captures below, the film is presented in Full Frame, but the compositions look slightly cropped. There is absolutely no detail whatsoever on the print they used. The film is a constant unsharp, unfocused mess of black and "poop" brown shades, and doesn't really vary much from that. There is barely any contrast, and the detail level is about slim to none. The most unbelievable thing, though, is that it looks as if this transfer was taken from a VHS master! Right from the start, the audio is distorted and horrible. The opening credits lettering "clips" badly, with horizontal lines running through the image. The DVD even shows signs of tape creases and video dropouts during some scenes (see below)! The compression artifacting is disgustingly bad, and the image is plagued with over-soft images and occasional streaking trails when people move on screen. UGH! This is definitely the worst looking DVD I have ever watched. I think I'd rather have my fingernails torn off with needle-nose pliers than sit through this presentation again.

Eaten Alive menu

Eaten Alive screen shot

Eaten Alive screen shot

Eaten Alive screen shot

Funny, but absolutely true story... after buying this, I went to a friend's house to take a look at it. When the DVD started, the audio was so loud and obnoxious from crackling and distortion that his cat went running into the other room out of sheer fright. My friend ran to his stereo system and had to turn the volume down before it blew out his speakers (and our eardrums)! A WORD OF WARNING: Turn your speakers down a LOT if you decide to watch this... the opening audio is so loud compared to the rest of the film that the screeching and distortion may damage your speakers, and your ears! After watching it for about 5 minutes, he went to take the DVD out and subconsciously went to hit the "eject" button on his VCR instead! Hilarious!

But wait... it gets better... the packaging is unbelievable! The cover is a cool painted image of Neville Brand and the alligator, but the back is devoid of anything other than a standard press kit picture of Robert Englund wearing glasses and some text. There is just one sentence from the very short program description: "The owner of an old motel kills whoever stays at his hotel with the aid of a giant alligator." "Motel" or "hotel", what's the difference, right? Also on the back, it says this DVD is made from "Fully Restored and Enhanced Digital Masters". Yeah, right! Of course, that doesn't make me laugh as hard as the "Chapters - Direct Scene Access (Go Straight to Your Favorite Scenes)" feature. This DVD has four, count 'em, FOUR Chapters! There is mention of a "Biography" on the back cover, that is nowhere to be found on the DVD. Also, the Running Time is listed as 96 minutes, but the DVD runs about 82 minutes.

One of the three DVD screens this release has, is a promotional screen for Diamond Entertainment's other releases (a helpful reminder of future titles to AVOID AT ALL COSTS), including their address and phone number so you can return this DVD and get your money back, I assume. I cannot recommend this DVD to anyone, but it might make a nice substitution for a lump of coal in someone's stocking this Christmas.

Donald V. Day
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