Alvin L. Fast
Mardi Rustam producer
Neville Brand – Judd
Mel Ferrer – Harvey Wood
Carolyn Jones – Miss Hattie
Marilyn Burns – Faye
William Finley – Roy
Stuart Whitman – Sheriff Martin
Roberta Collins – Clara
Kyle Richards – Angie
Robert Englund – Buck
Crystin Sinclaire – Libby Wood
Janus Blythe – Lynette
Betty Cole – Ruby
Sig Sakowicz – Deputy Girth
Ronald W. Davis – Country Boy
Christine Schneider – Waitress
David Hayward – The Cowboy
David Carson – Marlo
Lincoln Kibbee – First Guy in Bar
James Galanis – Second Guy in Bar
Tarja Leena Halinen – Miss Hattie’s Girl
Caren White – Miss Hattie’s Girl
Valerie Lukeart – Miss Hattie’s Girl
Jeanne Reichert – Miss Hattie’s Girl
Review by Sven Soetemans
Tobe Hooper’s 70’s films still stand as his best ones! Golden horror!!
`The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (of course) and `Death Trap’ (less obvious already) are the only two films Tobe Hooper should be really remembered for as a horror director. They both are raw and chilling explorations of the angry rural America. The location of this film looks like a giant swampy area, homed by underdeveloped perverted rednecks and other freaks of society. Neville Brand terrifically portrays Judd, the isolated owner of the Starlight Hotel. Judd suffers a bit from the incapability to communicate with people and the guests at his hotel are doomed to die as soon as they enter his facility. He also has a pet crocodile swimming underneath the porch of his hotel, which is a pretty convenient method to get rid of human leftovers… A poor, rejected prostitute is the first to undergo Judd’s murderous rituals. Her relatives soon come to search for her and are doomed as well. In the meantime, the croc feeds on some more unfortunate by passers. Although I regard this as Hooper’s second best film, it doesn’t come close to the power of TCM…Which kind of gives you an idea of how great I think TCM was! The settings and photography of Horror Hotel (one of the film’s a.k.a’s) look nasty and utterly cheap. Just as it did in TCM, this actually increases the macabre atmosphere and you constantly feel something wicked is about to happen. The characters – although pretty imaginative – aren’t as convincing as the Sawyer family but they too seem to come running straight out of a freakshow as well! There’s Judd of course, but also a very memorable Robert Englund who plays a retarded yokel with an obsession for anal sex. The scream-queen prototype Marilyn Burns returns as well before disappearing into actress-oblivion forever. The crocodile as well as most other horror scenery looks really cheap, but to me, this only increases the trash-fun value of this film. Highly recommended viewing as far as I’m concerned.
Eaten Alive (1977)
Review by Wayne Malin
Interesting but not successful,
Story about Judd (Neville Brand) who runs the decrepit Starlight Hotel. He has a pet crocodile around who he regularly feeds visitors he doesn’t like. Things get out of control when a family consisting of a mother (Marilyn Burns), a very weird father (Frank Finley) and a little girl (Kyle Richards) drop by to spend the night.
Tobe Hooper’s second film (after “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) is bizarre (to say the least). The hotel (where most of this takes place) is pretty obviously a set on a sound stage but it looks convincingly run down and Hooper shoots most of the scenes through a red filter. It gives everything a very unhealthy look. He also has strange songs and noises continuously on the soundtrack to keep you feeling uneasy. The plot itself doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but Hooper got a very good and interesting cast–most of them were in horror movies or shows of the past and future. Carolyn Jones (who plays a madam) was in “The Munster” TV series; Brand himself was in quite a few horror films; Burns was in Hooper’s previous “Chainsaw”; Richards played one of the kids in “Halloween” and even Robert Englund (Mr. Freddy Krueger himself) has a small role. Old pros Stuart Whitman and Mel Ferrer pop up too. The film also has the expected gratuitous female nudity and few good gory killings. As for the crocodile–you only see it a few times and it looks pretty fake. Still it manages to work. The cast is great–especially Brand, Burns and Englund. Only Finley is bad (he acts like he’s in another movie altogether).
This was Hooper’s first Hollywood film and (supposedly) there were tons of problems. There’s an unconfirmed rumor that Hooper was fired early on and Carolyn Jones finished directing this uncredited. That would explain why the red filter shots stop abruptly halfway through the film and it would explain the choppiness of the final product. This was badly distributed (it played mostly drive-ins) and sank without a trace. This is no unsung masterpiece but it is a quick, sleazy and pretty disturbing horror movie. I like this better than “Chainsaw” (which I hated). I give this a 6.