Eaten Alive

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This article is about the Tobe Hooper film. For the Diana Ross album, see Eaten Alive (album). For the title track from the album, see Eaten Alive (song). For the Barry Gibb album containing the demos made by him to the Ross' album, see The Eaten Alive Demos. For the film by Umberto Lenzi, see Eaten Alive!.
For the television special, see Eaten Alive (TV special).
Eaten Alive
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Produced by Alvin L. Fast
Larry Huly
Robert Kantor
Mardi Rustam
Mohammed Rustam
Samir Rustam
Written by Kim Henkel
Alvin L. Fast
Mardi Rustam
Starring Neville Brand
Mel Ferrer
Carolyn Jones
Marilyn Burns
Music by Wayne Bell
Tobe Hooper
Cinematography Robert Caramico
Edited by Michael Brown
Mars Productions Corporation
Release dates
May 1977 (USA)
Running time
91 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Eaten Alive (known under various alternate titles, including Death Trap, Horror Hotel, and Starlight Slaughter) is an American horror film, directed by Tobe Hooper and released in May 1977. It was written by Kim Henkel, Alvin L. Fast and Mardi Rustam and produced by Fast, Larry Huly, Robert Kantor and Mardi, Mohammed and Samir Rustam. The film stars Neville Brand, Roberta Collins, Robert Englund, William Finley, Marilyn Burns, Janus Blythe and Kyle Richards.


After refusing a request from frisky customer named Buck (Robert Englund), naive prostitute Clara Wood (Roberta Collins) is evicted from the town brothel by the madam, Miss Hattie (Carolyn Jones). Clara makes her way to a decrepit hotel, called the Starlight Hotel, located deep in a swamp, where she encounters the middled-aged, mentally disturbed proprietor Judd (Neville Brand) and his pet Nile crocodile in the swamp beside the porch. Upon realizing Clara was a prostitute, the sexualy frustrated Judd attacks her while ranting and raving. When Clare fights back, Judd stabs her with a garden rake and feeds her dead body to the crocodile.

Some days later, a fractious couple, the outgoing Faye (Marilyn Burns) and the disturbed Roy (William Finley), arrive at the hotel, along with their young daughter Angie (Kyle Richards). They soon experience the trauma of Angie's overly curious pet dog being eaten by the crocodile. Faye and Roy take their daughter to their room to try to calm her down.

Meanwhile, Harvey Wood (Mel Ferrer) and his daughter Libby (Crystin Sinclaire) arrive at the hotel seeking information on Clara, Harvey's runaway daughter. Judd denies ever meeting Clara to them. Harvey and Libby soon leave after checking into the hotel to try locate Clara at the brothel.

Roy decides to shoot the crocodile for eating their dog. Judd intervienes and during the struggle, Roy shoots Judd in his right leg, only it is revealed that Judd's leg is a wooden prostetic. During the fight, Roy is stabbed by Judd with a scythe and he is then being attacked and devoured by the crocodile. After getting Angie to sleep, Faye goes into the bathroom for a bath, however is interrupted by Judd who begins to beat her. Angie wakes up and flees the hotel, however is trapped underneath the hotel by Judd, who proceeds to tie up Faye to a bed in a vacant room at the hotel.

Accompanied by Sheriff Martin (Stuart Whitman), Harvey and Libby question Miss Hattie, who denies ever seeing Clara. Harvey returns to the hotel alone while Libby stays in town to eat dinner with the Sheriff. After ariving back, Harvey hears Angie's crying, and while investigating is attacked by Judd who kills him by stabbing him in the neck with his scythe. Judd then drags Harvey's body into the swamp where the crocodile eats it.

While Sheriff Martin and Libby are at the bar having dinner and drinks, Martin kicks out Buck and his girlfriend Lynette (Janus Blythe) after a fight nearly breaks out. The pair venture to the hotel, much to the annoyance of Judd who had earlier warned Buck to stay away from his land. While in their room, they hear Angie's cries for help. Buck goes to investigate and is pushed into the swamp by Judd, where he is quickly eaten. Lynette hears the commotion, and goes outside only to be chased by Judd and his scythe through the swamps. She manages to get to a road where she flags down a passing car and gets away.

Libby arrives back at the hotel and goes up to her room. Judd arrives back also, and opens up the gate for the crocodile to get in under the house so it can eat Angie. Meanwhile, Libby discovers Faye tied up in the vacant room. After untying her, the women attempt to leave, however Judd chases them back upstairs where he wounds Faye with the scythe. Libby escapes and begins to help Angie out of the swamp she has managed to get into. Judd throws Faye off a balcony, before he attempts to push Angie back into the swamp while struggling with Libby, but Faye arrives and pushes Judd over the wire fence into the swamp, where he is devoured by his pet crocodile. Sheriff Martin arrives at the hotel to arrest Judd after being called upon by Lynette only to find the emotionally shaken Libby and Angie along with the wounded Faye. All that is left of Judd is his wooden leg floating in the swamp beside the hotel.



The film was shot entirely on soundstages at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, California. The plot was very loosely based on the story of Joe Ball (also known as the Bluebeard from South Texas or the Alligator Man) who lived in Elmendorf, Texas, in the 1930s after Prohibition ended. He owned a bar with an alligator pit serving as an entertainment attraction. Several murders of women ensued, but it was never proven that the flesh found in the pit was human. Joe Ball committed suicide upon possibility of capture.


Video nasty[edit]

This movie was one of the so-called "video nasties" in the UK during the height of the issue during 1983 and 1984. Mary Whitehouse took a personal objection to this movie.[citation needed]

Critical reception[edit]

Eaten Alive has received a negative response from critics, and currently holds a 18% approval rating on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on ten reviews.[1] An African hand-made poster for the movie is included in the book Extreme Canvas: Hand-Painted Movie Posters from Ghana by Ernie Wolfe.


  1. ^ "Eaten Alive - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 

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