Having hit pay dirt with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974, director Tobe Hooper followed it with another taut Southern terror in 1977’s sleazy and psychotic exploitationer Eaten Alive.
Meet the maniac & his friend!
Deep in the Louisiana bayou, the decrepit Starlight Hotel is presided over by the mad, mumbling Judd (Neville Brand) – who keeps a pet croc in a large pond out front. The patron of this peculiar establishment may seem like a good-natured ol’ Southern gent – but he has a mean temper on him, and a mighty large scythe to boot…
Originally released in British cinemas under the title Death Trap and subsequently seized as one of the so-called ‘video nasties’ in the 1980s, this offbeat horror thriller was Hooper’s ‘not-so’ successful attempt to recapture the relentless energy and perverse aura of Texas Chain Saw.
It’s certainly dripping in atmosphere, and has a claustrophic, nightmarish feel, mainly due to fact the film was shot entirely on a sound stage (at the famed Raleigh Studios). Brand also gives an over-the-top-and-then-some performance as the psychotic hotelier.
Checking into Hooper’s gorefest are Chain Saw star Marilyn Burns and William Finley (Phantom of the Paradise), while The Car‘s Kyle Richards plays their young daughter. Also along for the ride are Hollywood veterans Mel Ferrer and Stuart Whitman, and Carolyn Jones (aka Morticia from The Addams Family).
The film was also released under a number of exploitation titles: Starlight Slaughter, Brutes and Savages, Murder on the Bayou, Legend of the Bayou, Horror Hotel, Horror House Hotel and Horror Hotel Massacre.
Following a new 2k transfer, Hooper’s stage-bound nightmare is being released in HD Blu-ray and standard DVD from Arrow Video, with a host of bonus features, from 21 September. Time again to check in – don’t you think?
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
• Brand new 2K transfer from the original camera negative
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
• Optional English SDH subtitles
• Audio commentary with co-writer and producer Mardi Rustam, make-up artist Craig Reardon and stars Roberta Collins, William Finley and Kyle Richards
• New introduction to the film by director Tobe Hooper
• New interview with Hooper
• My Name is Buck: Robert Englund discusses his acting career
• The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball – The story of the South Texas bar owner on whom Eaten Alive is loosely based
• 5ive Minutes with Marilyn Burns: The star of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre talks about working on Eaten Alive
• The Gator Creator: archival interview with Hooper
• Original theatrical trailers for the film under its various titles Eaten Alive, Death Trap, Starlight Slaughter and Horror Hotel
• US TV and Radio Spots
• Alternate credits sequence
• New cover artwork by Gary Pullin
• Collector’s booklet
Glancing at the retro credits of the Final Cut Entertainment Blu-ray UK release of this 1986 sci-fi, director Tobe Hooper’s homage to the 1950s classic, Invaders from Mars, about a small-town boy who is convinced aliens are taking over the minds of his parents and townsfolk, should have been as inventive and rewarding as John Carpenter’s The Thing or David Cronenberg’s The Fly.
It had Dan O’Bannon (Alien, Return of the Living Dead) and Dan Jakoby (Arachnophobia) on script duty, the legendary Stan Winston conceiving some great creature effects, John Dkystra doing the impressive visuals, and Christopher Young supplying a suitably cosmic score. The cast, meanwhile, was a who’s-who of favourites, including Louise Fletcher, Karen Black, Timothy Bottoms and Bud Cort.
But, and it’s a big but, Invaders from Mars was made by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus’ Cannon Films, and they were notorious for creating some of the VHS-era’s worst films (just check out the Electric Boogaloo documentary). Not only that, it was the second of Hooper’s three-picture deal with the misguided Israeli cousins to misfire – spectacularly. His first was the hugely expensive sci-fi flop Lifeforce (you can read all about that here).
The problem with Hooper’s Invaders is that it doesn’t know whether it wants to be a serious sci-fi, a spoof, or a kiddie-friendly adventure. There’s also no action or suspense, and Hunter Carson, who plays David, is plain awful (he probably only got the job because he was Karen Black’s son). The original David, Jimmy Hunt, puts in a cameo as the Police Chief which made me smile, as did the in-joke of setting the film in the same town as another sci-fi classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Now, there’s a reimagining that’s just as good as the original.
But if you are a Tobe Hooper fan and don’t have a multi-region player (to view the Scream Factory Blu-ray release, which boasts a commentary from Hooper), then this Final Cut Entertainment Blu-ray UK release comes in at second best, and includes the following extras:
• A career in Cannon/Tobe Hooper in the 1980s with film historian David Del Valle
• Mission to Mars: The Special Effects of Tobe’s Invaders by Alec Gillis (art department co-ordinator and creature effects crew)
• Red Planet Recollection: Remembering Invaders from Mars by Leslie Dilley (production designer)
• Creative Concepts: An interview with William Stout (concept artist)
• Invaders from Mars concept art presented by William Stout
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre | Tobe Hooper praises the 40th Anniversary restoration of his terrifying masterpiece
‘The most purely horrifying horror movie ever made. Genuinely disturbing, even now’
‘Chainsaw-wielding Leatherface remains one of the most disturbing characters in horror’
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre not only changed the face of horror in 1974, but still remains one of the most shocking, powerful and terrifying films ever made. Now to celebrate its 40th Anniversary, a brand new restored version comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Second Sight on 17 November.
‘This is absolutely the best the film has ever looked,’ says director Tobe Hooper, who supervised the 4K restoration and new 7.1 audio mix.
Available in a two-disc limited edition Steelbook Blu-ray with new artwork created by Doaly and bonus features (see below), and as a standard two-disc Blu-ray, with reversible sleeve featuring the new artwork and the original US poster artwork.
• New audio commentary with director Tobe Hooper
• New audio commentary with cinematographer Daniel Pearl, sound recordist Ted Nicolaou and editor J Larry Carroll
• Cutting Chain Saw with editor J Larry Carroll
• Grandpa’s Tales with actor John Dugan
• Horror’s Hallowed Grounds
• New deleted scenes/outtakes
Lifeforce (1985) | Tobe Hooper’s space vampires sci-fi blockbuster restored for a new generation of fans
SPACE VAMPIRES SUCK LONDON DRY
Three aliens in suspended animation are brought back to Earth from their dying spacecraft hidden inside Halley’s Comet. But while undergoing examination by a team of British scientists, the aliens – cloaked as perfect humanoid specimens – escape by feeding on the lifeforce of their captors. Running amok in London, the vampire trio create an epidemic that turns the populace into soul-sucking ghouls. With the alien’s spacecraft on a collision course for Earth, only one man can stop them – shuttle crew survivor (Steve Railsback), who has a strange connection with the alien’s leader (Mathilda May).
HOMAGE TO HAMMER
Tobe Hooper’s 1985 adaptation of Colin Wilson’s 1976 novel The Space Vampires was the American director’s big-budget homage to Hammer, fusing the 1950s sci-fi of the Quatermass films with the pert eroticism of their 1970s-made gothic bloodsuckers like The Vampire Lovers. Despite an editing hack job by the film’s purse-holders, Hooper’s Poltergeist follow-up is a delightfully insane sci-fi horror blockbuster.
There’s the stellar cast of wildly over-acting British thespians – including Peter Firth, Aubrey Morris, Frank Finlay and Patrick Stewart, a script by the Dan O’Bannon, who penned Alien and (my favourite) The Return of the Living Dead, stunning make-up effects – the animatronic corpses are the highlight, John Dykstra’s superb special effects – although the model set of London is a bit ropey, and Mathilda May’s unforgettable nude vampire. If you’ve never seen this, then you are in for a surprise. If you are already a fan, then this restored release is a must-have. The only thing missing (besides a full-on director’s cut) is Henry Mancini’s classic music score.
The Arrow Video (region B) release includes a HD Blu-ray presentation of both the international and theatrical versions, transferred from original elements by MGM with supervision by director Tobe Hooper. The amazing extras includes audio commentaries with Tobe Hooper, visual effects artist Douglas Smith and make-up effects artist Nick Maley; a making-of featurette, and new interviews with Hooper, Mathilda May and Steve Railsback.