Eaten Alive! (1980)

EatenAliveCoverStill hacking our way through Italian cannibal territory, Eaten Alive is another Umberto Lenzi movie about unknown Italian actors and wayward porn stars stumbling around the jungle getting raped, chopped up and eaten.

I suppose, relatively speaking, this is a better movie than other Italian icky flicks such as Cannibal Ferox and Cannibal Holocaust which is somewhat surprising since the cannibals are kind of ancillary to things and the plot that takes center stage involving a Jim Jones-style cult is quite stupid.

First of all, this is the only cannibal movie that starts in Niagara Falls! There’s some guy running around near the falls shooting someone with a poison dart. Now, I’ve been to Niagara Falls and I can tell you that though there were a lot of impolite Japanese and German tourists, I never once saw anyone from New Guinea shooting portly sightseers with some cobra-venom-dipped toothpicks!

After the Niagara Falls business this dude goes to New York and uses a poison dart on someone else. He then promptly gets run over by a Ryder truck. This is what we in the Big Apple call “street justice.”

The cops contact Sheila Morris because there was some film found on this guy’s body that had her sister’s name on it and it shows her in the jungle participating in a ceremony that involves a little topless action and a guy in a really big mask.

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A professor she consults (I think this is the very special appearance by Mel Ferrer) tells her that this footage was shot somewhere down near cannibal country. Some further half-assed investigation reveals that Sheila’s sister, Diana, went into the jungle with Jonas, a charismatic cult leader who has very nicely styled hair for living in the middle of the rainforest.

Sheila books the next flight to cannibal country and ends up going to one of those shady sports bars that you’ll find in movies where the main male character is an American ex-patriot veteran who is AWOL from the Nam and makes his living doing cool bloodsport-type events like knife-arm-wrestling.

It is in this tough-guy environment that we find our hero, Mark. If Mark’s unshaven mug looks familiar to you, it may be because Robert Kerman, who plays Mark, has appeared in over 100 films, six of them made in the same year as this movie as well as an appearance in the next year’s Cannibal Ferox. (He also showed up in Cannibal Holocaust somehow.)

Of course you might also recall him (but will never admit it) from such projects as Debbie Does Dallas 3, Debbie Does Dallas 2, Angel Buns, and the very descriptive Men Who Love Huge Boobs. But there really isn’t any reason to dwell on the fact that sometimes he had to pay the bills by appearing in movies along the lines of Sky Pies, Cherry Cheesecake, and The Budding Of Brie. And I refuse to mention his role in the questionably named chicken epic Cock Crazed Blondes, since we probably have a loyal following that isn’t cock crazed.

Sheila gives Mark $20,000 to help find her sister. Both of them and a native guide (so what was the point of paying Mark 20K?) set off into the jungle and it isn’t long before their guide steals everything and deserts them. Mark, perhaps missing the irony that he himself is a deserter, is a little outraged that this guy would have so little loyalty, but somehow they find their way to the village that was in the film found in New York.

For reasons I never understood, a couple of white guys hold them prisoner until Mark busts out the old jungle gem where he and Sheila pretend like they were killed by a cobra, but really are only playing possum until their captor can get close enough so that they can take him hostage and escape back into the cannibal infested jungle without any idea where this sister is, except that she is with this cult that has a village 500 miles into the depths of the jungle.

Mark and Sheila wander around aimlessly until they almost get eaten by cannibals, but are rescued by some of the cult members. They are taken to see Jonas at his little camp named Purification and the next thing you know we’re watching some funeral ceremony where the widow gets to be raped by her surviving brothers-in-law.

I’m sure that Mark was just itching to come off the bench during this ceremony and show these natives how a pro does it, what with his action in such studies of human sexuality as The Love Couch, Pleasure Palace, and The Good Girls Of Godiva High.

Sadly, Mark would have to keep it in his holster for most of the movie, though I think he and Sheila got it on once, but only because she thought they were about to be eaten by cannibals. Later when she thought they were about to be eaten by cannibals again, she just asked Mark to stab her, so you can see how that relationship was progressing.

There’s a lot of time spent at the cult’s village and Jonas starts to brainwash Sheila by giving her a drugged drink and raping her with an object dipped in snake blood. This cult stuff is really laughable as Sheila periodically comes out of her brainwashing to complain that she’s being brainwashed.

I doubt that there’s enough cannibal action to satisfy the hardcore people-eaters out there, though the few scenes you get are pretty graphic. Lenzi instead concentrates on exploiting this Jim Jones angle, though he does so poorly – you can only giggle when Sheila’s sister is prancing around the jungle in her high heeled boots and skirt (Is this some kind of jungle cult for hookers?) and when Jonas falls for Mark’s lame “I’m ready to join your cult now” scheme (he was just faking it like when he pretended that a cobra ate him).

Not as gross as other cannibal movies simply because there aren’t as many cannibal scenes (what you do get is yucky though), but at least this one has some laughs. About as good as you could expect from a movie that stars a guy who was also in Inside Jennifer Wells, Dirty Lilly, and Peepholes.

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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