Director – Umberto Lenzi
Cast – Janet Agren, Robert Kerman, Ivan Rassimov, Paola Senatore, Me Me Lai, Fiamma Maglione, Franco Fantasia, Franco Coduti
Release Year – 1980
Reviewed by John of the Dead
While it seems most horror fans associate the cannibal/exploitation horror sub-genre with Ruggero Deodato, mostly due to his 1980 classic Cannibal Holocaust, although said sub-genre was really popularized by the underappreciated Umberto Lenzi, who made the cannibal realm his home in 1972. Although Cannibal Holocaust ruled 1980 in the realm of exploitation, Umberto Lenzi’s Eaten Alive! is a fun and enjoyable cannibal flick.
Eaten Alive! follows Sheila Morris(Janet Agren), who’s sister disappeared 6 months ago after traveling to New Guinea to join a deranged preacher named Jonas and his followers. Sheila enlists the help of a rogue Vietnam soldier and adventurer, Mark Butler(Robert Kerman), to help her locate her sister in the deep cannibal infested jungles of New Guinea. They locate her sister, but realize they underestimated their mission. In order to bring her out alive they must battle and outwit Jonas and his followers, as well as the numerous cannibals that surround them.
Well, if you are into the usual cannibal exploitation antics then you should no problem watching this film and most likely already know what you’d be getting into if you do. We get plenty, and I mean PLENTY of gore scenes in this film, and if you come into this watch for the gore alone you would definitely leave this experience with a smile on your face. Much like Cannibal Holocaust we get some pretty intense gore scenes involving animals, so those of you having sex with PETA signs and posters should maybe stay away from this one.
The storyline is nothing out of the ordinary for these types of films, and I do not mind that one bit. Being an “adventurer” myself(on a much smaller plane) I enjoy these films where the protagonists go on a search in the jungle looking for someone. Jungle scenes provide some nice atmosphere given they come with plenty of places for dangerous cannibals and other things to hide, so it works great for this film. The addition of Jonas the deranged preacher was a nice touch that I can honestly say I have not seen in these cannibal films, so I appreciate that element thrown in to add some originality to the storyline.
Lenzi’s direction in this film is positive, mainly because he paces the film well and does a darn good job with the gore scenes. Some will balk at the fact that some of the death and animal kill scenes were recycled from other films, such as his own Man From Deep River(1972), his Jungle Holocaust(1977), and Sergio Martino’s Mountain of the Cannibal God. Purists may balk at him recycling some scenes from the mentioned films, but I find no major fault in it given I enjoyed the recycled scenes regardless of where they originally came from.
Overall, this is a cool cannibal exploitation film that gives us the usual clichés we get in these films, but clichés that I find fun and enjoyment in. If you like these types of films or would like to get an idea into how these films are then I suggest you give this a watch.