31 Days of Halloween — Day 7: Eaten Alive! (1980) — by Dr. Shock


HMP EatenAliveEditor’s note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast and the Land of the Creeps horror podcast. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.

After launching the cannibal craze of the ‘70s and ‘80s with Man from Deep River (1972), director Umberto Lenzi returned to the jungle once again for 1980’s Eaten Alive! Featuring a handful of scenes lifted from other movies (including Jungle Holocaust and The Mountain of the Cannibal God), which were then incorporated into its tale of a Jim Jones-like cult in New Guinea, Eaten Alive! is a gruesome bit of exploitation so incredibly off-the-wall that, at times, you won’t believe your eyes.

Upon learning that her sister, Diana (Paola Senatore), who had been traveling in the South Pacific, is missing, beautiful southern belle Sheila (Janet Agren) decides to go looking for her. With Mark (Robert Kerman), a Vietnam veteran who knows his way around a jungle, as her guide, Shelia sets off for the wilds of New Guinea, where, with Mark’s help, she discovers that Diana has joined a religious cult headed up by the charismatic Rev. Jonas (Ivan Rassimov), whose commune is smack dab in the middle of cannibal country.

Together, Mark and Sheila somehow make it to Jonas’s camp, only to find that Diana has been brainwashed, and doesn’t want to return with them to civilization. Can the two adventurers convince her to leave, or will they instead succumb to Jonas’s charms and join up along with her?

The sheer audacity of some of the scenes in Eaten Alive! will have you staring at the screen in disbelief.

Soon after Mark and Sheila arrive at Jonas’s camp, they witness a funeral ceremony for one of the cult’s members. Once the deceased is cremated, his widow (played by Me Me Lai, who appeared in damn near every cannibal movie from this period) climbs onto the funeral pyre and strips off her clothes, at which point her late husband’s three brothers have sex with her as she lies in his ashes (I forget the reasoning behind this bizarre custom, but does it really matter anyway?).

Not to be outdone, the cannibals themselves also go to extremes; aside from snacking on the odd foot or arm, they devour a woman’s breast, and even slice off the penis of one of their own when he offends the tribe’s elder (we never do learn what his infraction was, though, based on the punishment, I can only hope it was something very severe).

Alas, much like Cannibal Holocaust, several animals are slaughtered on-screen throughout Eaten Alive!, including a crocodile (a truly nauseating scene) and the odd lizard (these kills were actually lifted from Lenzi’s 1972 flick Sacrifice! and edited into this movie).

In addition, we get animal-on-animal violence, most of which would be too disturbing to appear in a National Geographic special. The movie is also misogynistic; along with being brutalized by cannibals, the women in Eaten Alive! are, on occasion, raped, and more than a few get slapped around by their male counterparts (Jonas slugs one or two, but, surprisingly, the hero of the story, Mark, is even more prone to hit a woman).

As a fan of Italian horror from this time period, I did get a kick out of just how outrageous Eaten Alive! was, though I realize that opinion will likely put me in the minority. So, for everyone else, let me sum up by saying Eaten Alive! is an exploitative, mean-spirited, often sickening gorefest. If any of these descriptives pique your interest, then you might want to give it a go. If not, I recommend you proceed with caution. That is, if you decide to proceed at all.

—Dr. Shock

—Dave’s original post for todays review over on DVD Infatuation

Links for Dr. Shock:

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Dr. Shock also appears on this horror podcast: Land of the Creeps

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24 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 7: Eaten Alive! (1980) — by Dr. Shock

  1. (Spoiler free)

    Day 7 – Exists (2014)

    Back when I watched 1957’s The Abominable Snowman, I realized that there has been a severe lack of movies based around Bigfoot despite the fact that he’s one of the most well known monsters and one that has a far better chance of actually existing compared to most of these other monsters. Besides the lack of Bigfoot movies, there’s even less good ones. The Abominable Snowman was average at best, but it’s certainly not a movie that everyone should rush out to watch. I’d argue the definitive Bigfoot movie is Harry and the Hendersons despite the fact that it’s not a horror movie. Although, all it takes is one moment in your childhood when you’re watching the movie, you look away and when you glance back, it’s the scene where Harry’s face pops into sight while on top of the car. You freak out and your mother never lets you live it down. Come on, mom, I wasn’t scared of Harry and the Hendersons, it was a damn jump scare! Childhood can be tough.

    Exists tries to do what every other Bigfoot film (All five of them) has failed to do – create a quality film that is also scary. Do they accomplish that goal? I’d say partially. Due to the sheer lack of Bigfoot movies, I don’t have any problem in calling it the best Bigfoot/Yeti horror film. There’s some good scares, the tension builds, and unlike The Abominable Snowman, you actually do get to see the Bigfoot. Despite it’s short length, the film dragged for me a bit. It got to the point where they weren’t adding anything new to the story, it was just another encounter with the Bigfoot with everyone fearing for their life. I think a little more exposition on the five main characters would have been a welcome addition to help pad out the story instead of making it mostly be about the attacks.

    Like every other horror film of this decade, it is a found footage film. As much as the style typically annoys me, I don’t have a problem with it in this film. The use of Go-Pro cameras offered a different sort of look and more importantly, explained why the cameras are still recording when they’re in harm’s way. If a Go-Pro is strapped to your body, then there isn’t any real need to shut it off so you can focus on slightly more important things. Things like not being crushed by some damn dirty ape. The found footage nature of the film also allows for quick shots of the Bigfoot without focusing too long in the middle of the movie. By the end of the movie, you get a lot of shots of the Bigfoot, but it’s not necessary early on. Then there’s the fact that this is Bigfoot. Everyone and their mother has seen the Patterson tape. This is a creature that became an icon because of found footage (I suppose it isn’t technically found footage since the tape was never found, but it’s the same style, so shut up). So it only makes sense to capture Bigfoot on camera in a similar manner in which he became a rockstar.

    Character wise, I liked the main five well enough. With the exception of Brian, the other four are a little bland and forgettable, but I’m not finding them annoying enough that I’m just waiting for them to die. I dig the Brian character though. He came out into the woods to try and capture footage of Bigfoot, which only helps explain why he wants to keep the camera on or he does a few risky things like opening windows to try and get a better look. He’s the one with the most personal growth throughout the film and the Brian that began the film that was around, whether alive or dead, at the conclusion of the movie. It was also Brian that played a central role in discovering what this movie was truly about. As he states at the beginning of the movie, Bigfoot (Bigfeet? Bigfoots?) aren’t known for unprovoked attacks. So when you have this extremely vengeful Bigfoot that just would not stop coming after them, even after sustaining personal harm, there’s an explanation for that. Whether you like the explanation or not, It’s an attempt by the filmmakers to make it be more than just a wild creature attacking because that’s just what wild creatures do.

    If you’re one of those heathens that do not believe in the existence of Bigfoot, the movie is still rooted in believability. You could still do most of the movie with a known creature such as a bear in place of the Bigfoot. It’s still an incredibly dangerous animal that you should be terrified of and the attempts of a group of friends trying to survive it despite the lack of an easy means of escape. As someone who feels strongly that believably can play a big role in making a scary film more effective, this ability to swap out “Fake” creatures and replace them with real ones is a method to enjoy wilder films.

    Overall, is Exists the first great Bigfoot movie? No, but it is an enjoyable one that manages to give fans a type of Bigfoot movie that they’ve been wanting to see. With any hope, the online support of this film and even 2013’s Willow Creek will tempt others into trying to make their own Bigfoot movies. One day in the future, a Bigfoot movie may not be a rarity and horror fans will have a slew of options to choose from when deciding on their favorite.

    I’d give the movie a 6.5. I do wonder if I would have enjoyed it more had I not heard so much praise for the film from the HMP hosts. My expectations were really high.

    • There are actually a LOT of Bigfoot movies, just very few good ones. By mainstream standards, all of two, now that we have Exists.

      I agree that Harry and the Hendersons is great fun, but I think Exists is actually every bit as good a Bigfoot horror film as Harry is a Bigfoot comedy.

      • Is there really a lot? From looking around, there looks to be maybe a couple dozen at best. Out of those, maybe only a few are actually known by mainstream audiences. That’s pretty low compared to other types of creatures and sub genres of horror.

    • I actually quite enjoy the Hammer Abominable Snowman movie too, for what it is. I’d like to see (direct, haha) a remake.

      Still hoping for a feature length version of the 80s camp slasher throwback Bigfoot short, Eaglewalk, as well.

    • I liked this movie. Found footage is great for bigfoot movies because we have “found” pictures and videos of bigfoot in real life.

  2. I haven’t seen Eaten Alive!, but based on Dr. Shock’s plot before the cannibals came into the picture, Eaten Alive! was reminding me a lot of Ti West’s The Sacrament. The whole idea of combining a cannibal movie with the Jonestown Massacre is an interesting concept.

  3. 31 Days of Halloween day 6

    17. Three on a Meathook (*) – Terrible garbage but the director would go on to do The Manitou.
    18. Rec 4: Apocalypse (***) – The apocalypse will take place within the confines of a boat… apparently.

  4. I’ve been trying to get a grundle of the Italian cannibal films watched before our upcoming cannibal movies episode. Now I’m conflicted as to whether I should watch this one or not.

      • Really? I’ve got two great documentaries about real cannibals and a third documentary about cannibal MOVIES. There are a lot of Italian ones aren’t there? There’s at least a dozen, right? But, I’m not just looking at tribal cannibal movies in the jungle, I’m also interested in looking at horror movies where cannibalism comes up like the Texas Chainsaw films, the Hannibal Lecter films, The Hills Have Eyes, Motel Hell, We Are What We Are, Ravenous etc. Non-horror cannibalism films like Alive and The Road and Eating Raoul/Sweeny Todd. I’ve been trying to get around to the 1980 Michael Caine film, The Island, for ages. I think I’m actually going to break down and watch the self-cannibalism flick Eat.

  5. Dammit I failed again…I had to work a 12-11 shift yesterday and couldn’t watch anything :( I do feel most of the time I’m at work that I’m trapped in a real life horror movie…watching all those customers lumbering up to the checkstands like a hoard of mindless zombies…when you notice one you just know that a bunch of them aren’t far behind…not to mention all the old people…They scare the “Debbie Gibson” out of me everyday…I don’t know how I survive day in and day out…I am a final girl!!!

  6. Day 7: Night of the Demons
    This movie was pretty fun. There are lots on one-liners and some pretty bad acting. I wish the look of the funeral house was better and I wanted more halloween elements.

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