Film Review: Eaten Alive (1976)

Also known as: Brutes and Savages, Slaughter Hotel, Death Trap, Horror Hotel, Horror Hotel Massacre, Legend of the Bayou, Murder on the Bayou, Starlight Slaughter, The Devil’s Swamp (alternative titles)
Release Date: October, 1976 (limited)
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Written by: Kim Henkel, Alvin L. Fast, Mardi Rustam
Music by: Wayne Bell, Tobe Hooper
Cast: Neville Brand, Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones, Marilyn Burns, William Finley, Roberta Collins, Robert Englund

Mars Productions Corporation, 91 Minutes

Review:

“Name’s Buck… and I’m rarin’ to fuck.” – Buck

A film that was directed by a young Tobe Hooper that features both Robert Englund and William Finley is enough to hook me. Now add in great TV legends Neville Brand and Carolyn Jones and you’ve got me hooked even further. Toss in Mel Ferrer, Marilyn Burns and Roberta Collins and this picture is now boasting some serious f’n talent!

But overall, this isn’t a classic and from a historical and cultural perspective, doesn’t hold a candle to Hooper’s previous film: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

However, this was still an awesome experience and even though I know that I had seen it in my youth, I barely remembered anything about it other than it taking place in a shitty bayou hotel where the owner chases people with his scythe until they fall into a pit where he keeps a large man eating crocodile.

But you don’t really need to know more than that. And frankly, that’s all the film needs to be. One doesn’t need to get bogged down by details and an elaborate story. This was ’70s horror. Just throw boobies and blood at the screen every few minutes and consider it a job well done. Granted, this could’ve used more boobage.

This is gritty and pretty brutal but not so much so that it’s a gore festival. But if you like watching people get slashed by a madman and then chomped by a large animal, this should satisfy.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: Tobe Hooper’s other earlier films: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Funhouse and Salem’s Lot.

Film Review: The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)

Release Date: March 13th, 1975
Directed by: George Roy Hill
Written by: George Roy Hill, William Goldman
Music by: Henry Mancini
Cast: Robert Redford, Bo Svenson, Margot Kidder, Bo Brundin, Susan Sarandon, Marilyn Burns (uncredited)

Universal Pictures, 107 Minutes

Review:

This is one of those movies that seems to be somewhat forgotten.

Robert Redford stars as the title character and the film follows him, as he works as a stunt pilot while having a burning desire to go up against the great German ace Ernst Kessler.

The film also stars Bo Svenson, Bo Brundin, Susan Sarandon, Geoffrey Lewis and Margot Kidder. With such a strong lineup, this film offers up some seriously good performances from its cast.

The Great Waldo Pepper is directed by Academy Award winner George Roy Hill and this is in the upper echelon of his pictures. Granted, most of his films are pretty damned good.

The cinematography in this film is spectacular. The shots of the planes doing stunts and battle with one another are beyond stellar. This film has a timeless vibe to it and the shots that were captured on film, especially for the limited technology available at the time that this film was shot, goes to showcase the greatness of Hill’s filmmaking prowess.

This is an underrated, underappreciated and under recognized work of art. Redford is as charismatic as ever and as cool as he is, what’s cooler than a bi-plane stunt pilot?

Rating: 7.75/10

Film Review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)

Also known as: The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Release Date:
 October 7th, 1994 (limited)
Directed by: Kim Henkel
Written by: Kim Henkel
Music by: Wayne Bell, Robert Jacks
Cast: Renée Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey, Marilyn Burns (cameo)

Genre Pictures, Return Productions, Ultra Muchos Productions, Columbia Pictures, Cinépix Film Properties, 94 Minutes (original cut), 87 Minutes (re-release)

texas_chainsaw_massacre_next_generationReview:

This is the fourth and worst installment in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. The reboot after this was a big step-up.

I rewatched this and the third film Leatherface for the first time in over a decade. Leatherface was really bad, this is worse. To be honest, it isn’t as bad as I remembered it but that is only because it has a few positives that none of the other films have. The main thing is Matthew McConaughey.

You can never accuse McConaughey of not giving 100 percent to a role. He played his part here, at about 150 percent. He was turned up past maximum volume and it was extraordinary. Sure, his material, his dialogue and his character were a ridiculous mash-up of awful but he shined with absolute insanity. I love McConaughey in this role and he owned it like no other previous psycho in this franchise.

Well, there actually isn’t another positive. McConaughey was just so good it is the equivalent to three positives.

So what’s bad? Quick answer: everything else. Long answer: initiate rant paragraph. Go!

The film starts with an animated logo that is pixelated and a credits sequence that has unintentional optical glitches. The dialogue was some of the worst I have ever heard and I watch a ton of Mystery Science Theater 3000 reruns. Some of the scenes made absolutely no sense… actually, all of the scenes. No, really… all of them. The acting, apart from McConaughey, was so bad that “atrocious” can’t quite define it. Renée Zellweger is the star of this but she just couldn’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit, especially with McConaughey’s mojo cruising through outer space. The conspiracy theory plot twist was one of the dumbest things I have ever seen play out on film. Leatherface was just a cross-dressing, wailing banshee that didn’t do a damn thing except scream the entire picture. The two other psychos were so uninteresting and unintelligible that they are only memorable because I just watched this. But the worst thing was Matthew McConaughey’s robot leg and how Renée Zellweger immobilized him with a television remote… a television remote! And then he is murdered by a low flying secret society airplane propeller that chops through his head. Then you find out that all along, all this Texas Chainsaw Massacre stuff was some sinister government plot to scare people so much that they had a “spiritual experience” before dying. None of it makes any fucking sense. None. And this was written and directed by one half of the creative team behind the original movie! So it is canon, right? Right?!

Rant paragraph over.

This film is so bad that even McConaughey’s complete awesomeness still puts this behind Leatherface. If you get this far into the Texas Chainsaw Massacre film series, you must be a glutton for punishment like I am. Or you were the kid who burnt their hand on the stove even though your mother told you it was hot. Or maybe you are just curious and want to see the greatest Oscar caliber performance in one of the worst motion pictures of all-time.

I don’t think words can really illustrate the experience that is Texas Chainsaw Masscare: The Next Generation. But words can’t really illustrate the feeling of being shot, you kind of just have to jump in front of the bullet.

Rating: 3/10

Film Review: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Release Date: October 1st, 1974
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Written by: Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper
Music by: Wayne Bell, Tobe Hooper
Cast: Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, Teri McMinn

Vortex, Bryanston Pictures, 84 Minutes

the_texas_chain_saw_massacre_1974Review:

Originally, I wanted to review the first four Texas Chainsaw films as a series, as they are considered to be the original run of films before the remakes, prequels and other alternate sequels started. However, every single film bearing the Texas Chainsaw name, follows its own continuity. Part 2 is one of many versions of a sequel. Part 3 ignores Part 2. Then you have Part 4, which ignores Parts 2 and 3 and establishes a “next generation” of characters. After that, the series was rebooted. Then the reboot got a prequel. Years later, another alternate sequel to the original was made. Now there is another prequel coming out within the next year or so; I’m not sure which of the films it is attached to. Needless to say, the continuity is confusing as hell, so I would rather review each film separately.

Artistically speaking, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is the best film in the series, although I can’t call it great. Sorry, it just isn’t. It also isn’t my favorite in the series, that honor would go to the second part, which I will explain when I review that chapter in the franchise.

This film is insane and scary. The atmosphere and the characters create a sense of dread that has never been replicated in the series. The dinner scene is one of the most legitimately frightening moments in 1970s horror. The sets, the cinematography, the characters, the music, the sound, everything just melds together in a good way. The film does the job it set out to do.

The only thing about the movie that I hated, and many will probably agree, is the invalid brother Franklin. He was beyond obnoxious, stupid and annoying. I don’t see how anyone could feel bad about his death in the picture. I only wish it had come sooner and been a lot more violent.

One of the common misconceptions about this movie, is that people remember it as being extremely violent and bloody. It isn’t. Most of the actual gore happens out of the shot or is implied somehow. There is very little blood, overall. The film is just so intense, at the right moments, that it doesn’t need to slap you in the face with blood and guts.

I know I am in the minority, but I have never held this in the same regard as classics like A Nightmare On Elm StreetHalloween or Friday the 13th. It certainly isn’t as good as Black Christmas, another well-noted horror film from 1974. I have always liked it but it just doesn’t hold a special place for me like the other movies. And out of all the big time horror franchises, this one has spawned the most awful sequels.

Regardless of my criticism, Tobe Hooper made a solid horror picture for 1974. This is considered to be one of the greatest scary movies ever made. I can’t imagine how terrifying it must have been in 1974 when the world hadn’t really seen something this brutal. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre opened the flood gates for what was to come in the horror genre and that, more than anything else, is why this film is important.

Rating: 8/10