Banned, censored and outlawed, this week’s Tubi Tuesday is “Eaten Alive” — an unsettling horror film that leaves you feeling a little grimy.
Horror movies have a special ability to get under the skin of the viewer — whether it’s being a little extra cautious about walking in the park alone at night, sleeping with a nightlight on, or just hating clowns for your entire life because Tim Curry is a goddamn maniac.
A great horror movie can also leave viewers unsettled by the story and imagery. For instance, a film like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer may leave you feeling gross as if, after a viewing of the film, you need to bathe to get the stink of it off of you. In the age of watching movies on mobile devices in public, a film like this could have you looking over your shoulder to make sure no one knows you’re watching it.
And in a world of oversharing, one just might want to leave a particularly brutal film off of their Facebook memories entirely.
This week’s Tubi Tuesday is one of those gross, dirty, yucky, “don’t tell your friends you’ve watched it” kind of movies: the near forgotten classic, Eaten Alive.
Before diving into the movie, it must be made clear that I am not talking about Umberto Lenzi’s 1980 Eaten Alive! aka Mangiati vivi! aka The Emerald Jungle, which is also a fairly yucky movie that’s streaming on Tubi. Here, we are talking about Tobe Hooper’s 1976 Eaten Alive aka Death Trap aka Horror Hotel Massacre.
Now you may be thinking, why so many “akas”? The biggest reason for the multiple names of films like these was an attempt by the directors to bypass the censorious British Government in the 1980s and their “Video Nasty” designation on numerous horror films.
Eaten Alive was originally released in the UK in 1982 under the title Death Trap and, not only was it banned, all copies of the film were confiscated and the creators were prosecuted. The film was eventually re-released in 1992 with an absurd 25 seconds edited out, and it didn’t get an unedited release until 2000. What makes this whole ordeal so absurd was that when “The Man” decided to allow the good people of the United Kingdom to watch the film, they only edited out 25 seconds!
Eaten Alive is so gross that you could literally pick any 25 second segment and say it’s too obscene for human consumption.
Many of the films on the Video Nasty list landed there for obscene gore, which was typically reserved for cannibal films like the other Eaten Alive. This Eaten Alive, on the other hand, was banned for violence: unsettling, make your skin crawl right off your bones violence as only Tobe Hooper could portray on film.
Much like his first film, the classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this film is full of dirty scumbags doing evil things in seedy places. And each and every one of their victims seems to be having an absolutely miserable time.
The premise of the film is fairly simple: a creepy guy who runs a hotel by the swamp keeps a pet crocodile in a cage outside so visitors can take pictures of it.
The movie opens with Robert Englund playing the greasy, underage girl-loving predator named Buck forcing himself upon a woman at the local whorehouse. No opening credits, no back story, just Buck getting a little too rough with a young lady.
Distraught, said young lady leaves the whorehouse and heads over to the filthiest hotel you have ever seen in your life, which is managed by a hillbilly named Judd. Judd notices who she is and tries to have his way with her as well. She fights back a little, so he guts her with a pitchfork and tosses her to the crocodile, who proceeds to rip her apart.
Might not be that bad? You’ve seen worse? This is the first 5 minutes.
The movie progresses at a very grinding pace as new victims come to the hotel and are subsequently tortured, gutted with a pitchfork, and fed to the crocodile.
This Includes some little dogs and a kid. The whole thing is about unsettling as the final supper from Texas Chainsaw. The viewer is stuck watching the nastiest people in the world torture other people, and the story has given no indication that a hero is ever going to bust through the wall like the Kool-Aid man and save the day.
The only shining glimmer of hope in this whole film is Judd’s radio, which is tuned to some old-timey country station that plays the saddest old honky-tonk songs you’ve ever heard — the backdrop for all this insanity. If anyone has any leads on a soundtrack, let me know.
If you are looking for something truly nasty to watch this Tuesday, check out Eaten Alive, which is now streaming on Tubi. If you’re looking to get real nasty, do a double-header of both Eaten Alive films on Tubi. You could even do a Tobe Hooper double-header, as the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is currently streaming there as well.