You know it’s good ’cause the title has an exclamation point – Eaten Alive! is a relentlessly exploitative action adventure cannibal movie set in a place known for “crazy religion and the clap.” It’s so exploitative, even finding an image suitable to post here was a challenge.
Like all good cannibal movies, this one starts off in New York — but wait for it — Upstate New York. Now that’s a switch. A tourist gets a blowgun dart in the neck while taking in the wonders of Niagara Falls. Then sure enough, we’re back to The Big Apple where a couple more people get a venom dart fired into their bodies.
The perpetrator, some island savage type, tries to escape but is run over near Times Square. On his person, police find the personal effects of a woman, Diana, who’s suddenly disappeared. They also find pictures of masks and tribesmen.
Detectives, with the help of (who else?) an anthropologist, determine Diana’s run off to join some sort of cult in New Guinea, that, as we later find out, believes in some kind of purity law, not to be confused with the one that’s used to brew German beer.
Anyway, because this is an Italian production, we have a Swedish model playing the missing woman’s Alabama-born sister Sheila and an Italian playing the missing woman. Sheila makes it her mission to head to the Southwest Pacific to find Diana and return her to safety.
And who should she enlist to help in this mission? Police? The embassy? Interpol? The CIA? Nah. A degenerate gambler and arm wrestler, Mark, who guzzles scotch whiskey and promises to lead Sheila to the middle of the jungle, where he believes the cult is camped out. And he’s played by none other than Robert Kerman, a human consumin’ triple threat known for Cannibal Ferox, Cannibal Holocaust and Eaten Alive!
Unluckily for everyone involved, Mark and Sheila do find the cult. It is lead by a Svengali named Jonas who sports gossamer orange robes, does very bad things with snake sexual aides and blasts Bach’s organ Toccata in D Minor and Battle Hymn of the Republic on a boombox, as one is wont to do.
This nutbar 1980 production was actually filmed before the infamous Cannibal Holocaust (and associated cannibal boom) but contains all the hallmarks of the genre: the degradation, animal cruelty, entrails, inane dialogue. The ever economic Umberto Lenzi cribbed footage from other cannibal films to make this hilarious people-eating pastiche.
***1/2 (out of 5)
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