92 Min | Adventure – Horror | March 1980
IMDB Rating: 5.2
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Starring: Robert Kerman, Janet Agren, Ivan Rassimov
Eaten Alive! Review: Again, as in other films dealing with cannibalism, we discover that someone has gone missing deep in a primitive, hostile and wild place. This time (for a change), it’s not the Amazon, but rather New Guinea. What can be done about this missing person? What has become of them? Like so many before it, “Eaten Alive” sends it’s protagonists alarmingly under-prepared into the jungle. Robert Kerman, a cannibal-film lover’s Harrison Ford, takes us again on another adventure through the Green Inferno, (as Deodato might say!). He is a hired-gun (not literally), and is offered US$80,000 to recover Sheila’s sister. That’s about it, really. Why he is the man for the job we’re never really told, but we soon see that he’s pretty helpful, if not strangely emotional at points.
It’s not until things progress through some rather trying dramatic scenes that we finally get to see some hard-core gore. And, they do not disappoint much. Sure, the make-up effects may be a little basic (I hate when blood looks like paint), but the intention behind the acts of cruelty are really blood-curdling. One scene, where a woman’s rib-cage is pried apart like a chicken-breast really is gruesome. Another scene treats a woman’s breast like a side of beef – which is a shame because you get used to seeing them throughout countless of lead-up scenes! Musically, Eaten Alive is mixed. The slower-tempo tracks are really effective, eerie, and catchy. However, the strangely up beat music (a cross of funk and disco) used in the urban scenes is really quite tasteless and confusing. Anyone who has seen Lenzi’s other work, (“Cannibal Ferox” for one) will have heard this soundtrack before.
There is a startling resemblance to a real event featured heavily in this film. For those who know of the Jonestown Massacre, watching this film will fill you with a severe case of deja vu. The film’s villain, a man called “Jonas”, is a direct reference to Brian Jones – the founder of Jonestown in Guyana. The cult-like activity and suicidal tendencies are paralleled within the film significantly. Such details as mention of “outsiders”, the drinking of drug-laced water, and overall stigma pervaded by Jonas is strikingly similar. And, without giving too much away, things end remarkably similarly to the real events at Jonestown. Eaten Alive has it’s problems, but it is by no means worth ignoring for fans of gore or cannibal films.