Release Date(s)1980 (February 20, 2018)
Studio(s)Dania Film/Medusa Distribuzione/National Cinematografica (Severin Films)
- Film/Program Grade: D
- Video Grade: C+
- Audio Grade: C
- Extras Grade: C+
Like most Italian cannibal movies of its era, Umberto Lenzi’s Eaten Alive! (aka Doomed to Die) is a fairly aggressive piece of work, and certainly not one for the extremely timid. One of many controversial titles in a very controversial genre, the fairly standard plot about people who traipse off into the jungle and find themselves at the hands of barbaric local natives who would like nothing better than to feast on their flesh also incorporates a Jim Jones cult-type subplot, an aspect of which was still fresh in moviegoers’ minds when the film was released.
While contextualizing is important, much of the content of Eaten Alive!, which I won’t go into detail about other than mentioning that it’s not just limited to human beings, is indefensible. Besides the gory gut-munching activities, there’s also heaps of rape and nudity, and none of it even remotely titillating. To the film’s credit, it does try to maintain a story throughout (however uninteresting it may be), but with the grisly moments you would normally expect from a film of its ilk. Some of these moments were actually lifted from other cannibal films, which include Jungle Holocaust from 1977 and Slave of the Cannibal God from 1978.
As you can no doubt tell by my lack of praise, I’m personally not a fan of this genre, but I can understand the appeal of it to connoisseurs (in other words, to each their own). Featuring performances by Robert Kerman, who appeared in many softcore pornography films throughout the 1970s and 1980s; Ivan Rassimov, who was also in Cannibal Holocaust that same year; and Janet Agren, who later appeared in Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead, the cast of Eaten Alive! will be familiar to deep-seated fans, and with the stomach-churning content to back it up.
According to the back cover of Severin Films’ Blu-ray release of the film, it’s being presented “uncut, uncensored, and fully remastered in HD for the first time ever.” A film print appears to be the most likely source, at least judging by the quality. It’s filled with leftover scratches, damaged frames, dirt, and speckling. However, it appears natural and film-like, aesthetically evocative of a Grindhouse-type presentation. Grain wavers between even and clumpy, but detail is high and the color palette, though a bit faded, is reproduced well. The candy-coated reds during gore scenes stick out more than anything else while skin tones appear fairly cool. Black levels are unremarkable and are often crushed, but overall brightness and contrast is quite acceptable. It’s also a stable presentation for the most part. The audio is presented via 2.0 mono DTS-HD in three different languages: English, Italian, and Spanish. Of the three, I found the English track to be the easiest on the years as the other two tracks offer muffled, sometimes distorted dialogue and score. Sync, as expected, is never perfect, but the dialogue itself is well-prioritized. The film’s upbeat 70s score also offers some much-needed fidelity. Occasional dropouts, hiss, and distortion are also present from time to time. Optional subtitles are also included in English SDH, as well as English for the Italian audio.
The extras include Welcome to the Jungle, a new interview with director Umberto Lenzi (which was conducted six months before his passing); Me Me Lai Bites Back, an 80-minute documentary about “The Queen of Cannibal Movies”; The Sect of the Purification, an interview with production designer Antonello Geleng; a set of archival interviews with actors Ivan Rassimov and Robert Kerman, which were culled from the Shriek Show DVD release of the film and edited together (the Lenzi interview from that release hasn’t been carried over); a Q&A from September 2013 with Lenzi at the Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films, UK, which was moderated by Calum Waddell and translated by Nick Frame; and the film’s theatrical trailer. It’s worth nothing that all of this material is presented in HD. The film is also separately available in a Limited Edition package of 2,500 units, which includes a slipcase and the film’s soundtrack on CD.
Eaten Alive! joins the high definition ranks alongside other cannibal films like Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox, the latter of which was also directed by Umberto Lenzi. Severin Films offers up a nice package, as per usual, but as with any kind of content this crude, it’s definitely not for everyone. You have been warned!
- Tim Salmons