Thursday, October 11, 2012

Eaten Alive! (Umberto Lenzi, 1980)

You know how Tough Actin'® Tinactin® provides fungus-related relief to millions of Americans? Well, the same can be said for blow-gun darts dipped in cobra venom. Except, blow-gun darts dipped in cobra venom are not, I repeat, not, going to ease your athlete's foot, jock itch, or ringworm. What it will do, however, is attack your central nervous system, cause respiratory failure, and ultimately lead to your untimely demise. Call me crazy, but Tough Actin'® Tinactin® and blow-gun darts dipped in cobra venom seem to have nothing in common. You're right, they don't. You know what? Let's just pretend that didn't happen, shall we? A quick show of hands, who here is excited to watch yet another film that features real animal cruelty, simulated cannibalism, outdoor rape and indoor castration? Judging by the lack of hands being raised, I'm gonna assume no-one is. Which is a shame, because I've slowly become enamoured with Italian-made cannibal exploitation films. Don't get me wrong, I despise them with a fiery passion. But for some strange reason, I can't look away. Which is odd because Eaten Alive! (a.k.a. Mangiati Vivi!) is filled with instances where looking in the opposite direction is probably the correct course of action. Hell, even the characters that populate this cruel universe think looking away is the right thing do. In fact, one of them punches the other in the face (knocking them out cold) in order to shield their eyes from a particular bit of ghastliness. Enough with the hand wringing, deep down (yeah, yeah, "trauma hounds - run to corrode," we get it, you like Skinny Puppy) you love these movies. How do you know I love them? I didn't want to bring this up, but I've watched you browse the bins of your local video emporium, and I've noticed that you always seem to go straight to the cannibal section. Damn, you got me. You win this round, voice in my head.
You know how Tough Actin'® Tinactin® provides...Just kidding. Quick question. Yeah, hi. I couldn't help but overhear you say that this film, directed, of course, by Umberto Lenzi (Cannibal Ferox),  features "indoor castration," and was wondering: Does the inside of cave constitute as being "indoors"? Wow, that is an excellent question. I'm gonna say, yes, it does constitute as indoors. Any structure, whether it be a makeshift shelter in the woods or an imposing castle sitting on top of a hill, is technically a building. And like all buildings, there's an inside and an outside. And the castration scene in Eaten Alive! definitely takes place inside as supposed to outside. Anyway, I hope that clears things up.
I have a question of my own: Is this the first cannibal film to sport an opening sequence that takes place in Niagara Falls, Canada? I'm going to go out on a limb and say, yes, it's probably the first. I only ask because the sight of all that snow and ice threw me for a bit of a loop. I mean, for a minute there I thought I'd put in the wrong movie. That thought quickly evaporates, however, when a balding white man is shot in the neck by an ambiguously Asian man wielding a blow-gun. While the trip to Niagara Falls was somewhat jarring, the next scene brought me back to my comfort zone, as we hit the streets of New York City. Like Niagara Falls, the weather is snowy and cold; hence, the ridiculous fur coat worn by a blonde man who is shot in the chest by a, yeah, yeah, an ambiguously Asian man wielding a blow-gun. Just in case some people in the audience are having trouble connecting the two slayings, another man, this time a balding white man in a trench coat, is shot in the neck in front of a man dressed as Santa Claus.
What do these killings have in common? Frankly, I couldn't careless. That's funny, you strike me as the kind of person who usually cares a lot about these sort of things. Oh, don't get me wrong, I care. You could even say that I give a fuck. It's just that Janet Agren is about to start strutting her stuff down 42nd Street, and I don't want to have to worry about the  plot-based machinations of some cannibal flick. It's not that I find her attractive or anything like that (her cheekbones are stupid), I'm mainly excited to watch a blonde woman in a fur coat (unlike the blonde guy shot in the chest with a dart dipped in cobra venom, Janet looks chic in fur) walk up and down 42nd Street at a time when it was a seedy paradise.
Since the 42nd Street of today looks like a corporate cesspool, someone should open a museum dedicated to 42nd Street as it was during its heyday as a sleaze mecca.
Removing her fur coat to reveal a busy sweater (it's mostly red with black around the neck, but the left shoulder features red, white, and pink stripes), Sheila Morris (Janet Agren) sits down at the detectives desk, and is told that her missing sister, Diana Morris (Paola Senatore), might be connected to the recent spell of bizarre blow-gun murders.
It would seem that her sister has gotten herself mixed up with a purification sect. A purification what? Yeah, it's this sect who apparently worship the environment. I know, what a bunch of wackos. Actually, as the police describe Jonas (Ivan Rassimov), the charismatic leader of this particular sect, and his group's beliefs, I found myself agreeing with everything they stood for. Of course, I'm not saying I would hop on the next Pakistani Airlines flight to New Guinea to join up with these so-called "nutjobs," I just thought it was odd that what was once considered radical is now the norm. I love the look of horror on Sheila's face when the F.B.I. agent tells her that the sect are against pollution.
After talking with Professor Mel Ferrer (the name of his character is not important) about New Guinea, Sheila is on her way. Unable to transverse the harsh wilderness by herself (she's just a simple country girl from Alabama), Sheila picks out her guide. Only problem is, her potential guide, a whiskey-loving expatriate American named Mark Butler (Robert Kerman), doesn't really want to guide her anywhere at this juncture. And why would he? He gets by on the money her makes on the local backroom arm wrestling circuit (you know it's a legit arm wrestling league just by looking at the yellow headbands the competitors wear). Desperate, Sheila offers Mark, who's still busy implementing the "your problems are not my problem" routine, a ton of cash. After mulling it over for about five seconds, Mark agrees to take her to the village where Diana was last seen.
As they're paddling down the river, Mark, Sheila, and their two native guides, spot a monkey about to be devoured by a giant python. Also known as: the monkey with its head in the mouth a giant python scene, this infamous scene is hard to watch. Poor monkey, its agonizing final moments are captured on film forever. The look on its little face as it fruitlessly tries to prevent itself from being eaten was heartbreaking. But as Mark tells a visibly shaken Sheila, "You'll see worse before this is over." And you know what? I believe him. 
As expected, Mark and Sheila soon find themselves "up shit's creek without a paddle." In addition, one native guide is eaten by a crocodile and the other is killed by an unknown assailant. You know who else is killed? A native woman wearing a pink shawl. Well, actually, first she was raped, then she was killed. As the cannibals are dining on her entrails, Mark and Sheila stumble upon their unorthodox feast. Don't worry, though, the cannibals didn't spot them (Mark is able to stifle Sheila's gasp in the nick of time). Nevertheless, the area is swarming with cannibals.
Luckily, a reasonable fellow named Karen (Franco Caduti) and his merry band of Jonas-affiliated henchmen (you could call 'em The Jonas Brothers) find them first. To be honest, I don't know what's worse, being eaten alive by cannibals or being forced to listen to the mumbo-jumbo that spews from Jonas' mouth on a regular basis. In case you forgot, Jonas is the leader of Purification Village (come for the hallucinogenic Hawaiian punch, stay for the dildos dipped in cobra blood). After being brought before Jonas by Karen and the Paul Rudd-esque Dick (Carlo Longhi), Jonas' right-hand man, Mark and Sheila spot Diana while attending the funeral of one of the sect members.
What's interesting about the funeral sequence, besides the fact that Dick gives Mark a play-by-play of what is going on, is that Mowara (Me Me Lai), the widow, is forced to have no-nonsense sexual intercourse on her husband's ashes with her brother-in-laws in front of the entire village. Oh, and just in case you're wondering, all three men choose to employ the missionary position. It's true, the third brother-in-law lifts Mowara up slightly  in order to gain penetration leverage. But the fact that his humping style was somewhat different than his brothers indicated to me that he simply wanted his thrusts to stand out from the crowd.
We soon learn that Diana is not happy being a sect member. While that's great news and all, but how do you expect Mark and Sheila to bust Diana out when you take in account that the village is surrounded by cannibals. In other words, the choice is simple: You can remain with the purification sect or take your chances with the bloodthirsty cannibals.
One man whose had enough with both is Mark Butler, as he just wants to drink whiskey and count his money. An anti-hero in every sense of the word, Robert Kerman brings a take no guff righteousness to the grisly proceedings. Getting the better of every cannibal and henchman that crosses his path, I wouldn't mind seeing Mark Butler go up against Giovanni Radice Lombardo's Mike Logan from Cannibal Ferox in a contest to prove who's the bigger jungle badass. Of course, Mark would probably destroy Mike rather easily (Mike is only tough when his adversaries are tied to trees), but I still would like to see them go at it.
Special kudos need to go to Paola Senatore (Emanuelle in America) for her ballsy work during the film's gruesome final third. Now, I don't want to say what exactly happens to her. But let's just say, it makes the monkey scene look tame. Which is saying something since that monkey's head was actually inside a snake's mouth.
Oh, and forget using cyanide to wipe out your crazy religious cult. Try cobra venom. It's quick, relatively painless, and it's all natural. Cobra venom, the choice of a brainwashed generation.

nsfw video uploaded by r0l00L


  1. Tinactin only relieves Americans? What does it do to Canadians, give them toe herpes?

    ORGY OF THE DEAD has a similar gold chick ceremony. If you haven't seen it, you need to.

    I thought this was one of the lesser Italian cannibal movies when I went through a phase of watching Italian cannibal movies. You make me want to see it again, such is your genius.

  2. This looks awesome in that cheap italian way, I once did a marathon of cannibal movies, but only lasted for two movies, they can be a bit much! Looking forward to checking this one out soon.

  3. @Thomas Duke: I guess Tinactin brings relief to flip-flop averse Canadians the same way it does Americans. Except, I don't think Tinactin is available up here. Now, have I checked? I have not checked. Will I be checking in the not-so distant future. Probably not.

    Are you aware that you just recommended that I watch an Ed Wood movie? Sure, it says here he didn't direct it. But still... ;)

    @The Film Connoisseur: Two cannibal movies, eh? That's not bad. I made it through about six.

  4. aaaaahhhhhhhhh, the remix from the "Addiction" single.

    (snuggles down into happy place)

  5. In typical industrial music fan fashion, the youtube comments section is full of people arguing about what album the song appears. But like you said, this particular remix originally appeared on the Addiction 12" single. Which I still have somewhere. :D

  6. Let’s be honest, Janet Agren in her fur coat was the best part of the movie lol