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Eaten Alive

 

By Jon Dieringer  


Eaten Alive is streaming on Prime and Tubi

This piece originally ran October 16, 2017
 
Read on our website

Imagine a collaboration between Tennessee Williams and Herschell Gordon Lewis, and one might begin to develop a sense of Tobe Hooper’s multifariously sticky Eaten Alive. The overshadowed follow-up to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, likewise co-scripted by Hooper and Kim Henkel, eschews its predecessor’s wry, faux-documentary veracity for a stagebound artifice that suggests Dario Argento working with the garish palette of Lewis's Color Me Blood Red. Like Chain Saw, it has roots in true crime: in this case, the legends surrounding Texas serial killer Joe Ball, the proprietor of a saloon and alligator pond who some believe fed as many as twenty victims to his pet reptiles. Hooper and Henkel’s fictional proxy, Judd (prolific TV western actor Neville Brand), owns a fleabag motel that serves as virtually the sole setting of Eaten Alive’s twilit hermetic universe. He’s visited by a string of showgirls, sheriffs, troublemakers, and wayward travelers, including Mel FerrerChainsaw’s Marilyn Burns, exploitation stalwart Roberta Collins, and a pre-Elm Street Robert Englund, all potential victims in this dimestore Psycho with teeth.

Brand ably carries the show as one of Hooper’s quintessential psychopaths: a depraved, neurotic, and prurient — yet compellingly vulnerable — American degenerate. Within Hooper’s filmography, Judd’s darkly comic portrayal acts as sort of a bridge between the menacing patriarch of the original Chain Saw and its sequel’s cartoonishly grotesque Vietnam vet Chop Top. If the comedy of Chain Saw isn’t immediately apparent, Eaten Alive is more eager to tip its hand as a truly twisted satire whose takeaway might be phrased as homo homini gatorus: man is bloodthirsty killer gator to man.

New York Film Festival

NYFF Coverage Week #2

Films covered include Nomadland, Frederick Wiseman’s City Hall, Matías Piñeiro’s IsabellaMy Mexican Bretzel, the archival documentary Hopper/Welles, and more. Read here.
 
NYFF Coverage Week #1

This year our primary vehicle for NYFF coverage is a series of weekly dialogs between writers Jon Dieringer, Jeva Lange, and Chloe Lioztte. (We'll also have a few extra write-ups in between.) Read the first one here.
 

Upcoming on Stream Slate

Save the dates:

Oct. 8 - Joshua Gen Solondz, co-presented by Speculative Place

Artist in pre-recorded discussion with Leo Goldsmith and Tiffany Sia
 
Oct. 29 - Spookies and genre film preservation, co-presented by Vinegar Syndrome

Screening of Spookies (1985) followed by discussion with Vinegar Syndrome Film Archivist Justin LaLiberty

Event details and more shows TBA soon!
 
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