(Release Date: March 20, 1980 [Italia])
(UK Release Date: 1981)
(US Release Date: May, 1986)
Well, the genre in general sucks marrow through a bone a starving poodle wouldn't even gnaw on. That and Eaten Alive is just about the most derivative and stolen piece of horse hockey one could possibly dream of. Compared to this, all the Bloody Murder films seem original and creative. Is it any surprise that Umberto Lenzi, the HUMAN EGO, credits himself as both Writer and Director of this Turkey? Probably not. Lenzi still amazes me from a clinical and psychological point of view. The man is convinced that he's not only a completely original artist, but also the teacher from whom all lesser directors (and I can think of very, very few that are lesser) have learned from and owe him tribute. In the interview on the remastered Shriek Show DVD, he again lists all the magnificent qualities of his master works, mostly Cannibal and Zombie flicks, and then illustrates that he's actually best known for his even better films in the Action and Adventure genre. Then he goes off again on how everybody but him is responsible for this movie sucking.
And it does. Oh, it's entertaining as hell, as long as you're in to this kind of trash. There are many ways to be into this kind of trash, to be sure... most of them, though not all, Ironic in nature. I'll say this for Lenzi, although he clearly, clearly, clearly had or has deep, deep, deep issues with women, he definitely knows how to pick 'em. If being stranded in the jungle means being stranded in the jungle with hot naked women like this, then I'm taking a trip to the deep woods now.
I'll also say this for Lenzi. He doesn't even try to hide what he's ripping off! Eaten Alive is the tale of Sheila Morris (the lovely Janet Agren) who hires a nail-tough Military Survivalist named Mark Butler (Robert Kerman, who was also acting in Porno Films during this period) to help her navigate her way through Cannibal Country to find her Sister Diana (Paola Senatore, who broke into Porno Films soon after this one) who may be a part of a small religious community deep inside the harsh jungle.
Okay, trade out the actors and exchange the word "Sister" for "Husband" and you've got the exact plot of Mountain of the Cannibal God there, don't you?
For those of you who don't watch trash, let me answer that for you... yes.
I guess Lenzi figured he could make it a little different, plus get some more fully unclothed women shots by eliminating a husband in favor of a Sister. Okay, good move, I'm with you!
In spite of how incredibly obvious this theft is to anyone who has seen that (somewhat) superior film, Lenzi insists that this is an original creation. He says that he came up with this story after reading about the Jonestown Massacre. Indeed, Lenzi goes a bit further with his version of the religious camp, changing the camp from the Catholic Missionary station we saw in Mountain of the Cannibal God to an out and out radical religious cult led by a Jim Jones-esque prophet named Jonas (Ivan Rassimov). Wow, "Jonas"... one whole letter off. I was totally fooled! Jonas uses sick brainwashing techniques and psychosexual blackmail to keep his followers in line and... well... naked.
It's not too long before Sheila too is naked. But not quite as naked as the surprisingly beautiful Mowara, played by the amazing Me Me Lai. This woman generally wears some beaded necklaces and a thong. But she's not all that attached to the thong. She hardly ever wears anything else. And she is BEAUTIFUL! Good move on Lenzi's part, too. Everyone else in the scene is usually fully clothed except her, so she easily distracts us from the bad acting and pilfered plot! Unfortunately she doesn't distract Sheila enough from becoming one of Jonas' followers... which she does in yet another scene stolen from Mountain of the Cannibal God.
Lenzi doesn't stop there, however. He doesn't only steal from the plot of that flick, but he also rips off actual full length scenes from other flicks for Mangiati Vivi! That's not to say he has them reenacted. No, he actually inserts the footage within this film. It happens more than once, usually with quick reaction shots from his leads thrown in. That film isn't alone, though. Borrowed splices from Ultimo Mondo Cannibale and The Man from Deep River can also be found in this film, hidden about as well as The Eiffel Tower is hidden in Paris.
But hey, in ol' Umberto's defense, he did also direct The Man from Deep River, so it's only the other two flicks that can truly make a case. His theft from Deep River is just lazy... not necessarily criminal.
Regardless, just concentrating on what the Lens of Lenzi had to offer in the originality category, the movie isn't that good. What am I saying "that good"? It eats pork n' ass through a rusted can! Let me say this... it lives up to its title. Boy does it ever. The special effects are both obvious and sad, but a lot went into them and looking at this film from the neighborhood of 30 years later, it's clear that Lenzi used the best of his budget there. However, one might wish he had used it on something besides watching beautiful naked women get eaten by ugly, partially clothed men.
Seriously, folks... Eaten Alive could well have been successful as erotica. They wouldn't even have had to change the title, really. Me Me and Paola aren't shy, folks, and there was plenty of sex in this anyway. Eaten Alive. I'd watch that version!
Seriously (again) folks, it's pretty much impossible for me to be taken seriously as a critic by this point, like ever, so I'll lay off of ol' Lenzi. Let us both have our delusions of Grandeur. I'm the World's Greatest Critic, and you, Umberto, you are the World's Greatest Director... that I've ever given a DOG! So, until there's a great cast reunion that rewrites all these "Eating" Cannibal flicks to something far more erotic... or, maybe Pac-Man oriented... I'll say goodbye to THE DOG DAYS OF SUMMER and see you in the next FALLING reel!
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