Released in 1977 "The Eaten Alive"is a Tobe Hooper films that he thought would capitalise of the success of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. Hooper has indeed interfered with production in the middle of filming due to artistic differences according to some people involved with production. The film was apparently not popular in its home land of the United States and this is why it often emerged under different titles ("Eaten alive, Legend of the Bayou" or "Starlight Slaughter"). At Fantastic Film Festival Paris, he won several awards. It includes Neville Brand (Judd), Mel Ferrer (Harvey Wood), Marilyn Burns who played Sally in the first "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and Robert Englund "Freddy" for whom it was a first big role.
I'll be honest; Eaten Alive is a film I never 'got'. The film was banned in Australia and its first official release was the Umbrella DVD from back in the day. I remember watching the Umbrella disc (this may have been 2004), it was one of the only few Hooper films I had not seen. My memory is faint but I recall not being a fan, of course it had 'Chainsaw' to meet up with in terms of expectations. I watched it once, and did not think about it again. Over the years however I have come to appreciate Hooper more for his wackiness and ideas. Upon this second revisit I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable it really was.
A young prostitute fled a Louisiana brothel. It is night and she is looking for a place to sleep. There it is a hotel lost in the middle of nowhere (Starlight Hotel) is a large house almost ruined and very dirty. It is received by Judd (the hotelier) real maniac, former war hero and misaligned sex, in short a real insane one. His pleasure is chasing its customers, rushing into a pond where his hungry alligator that devours is located. This film although a little wobbly at the start, takes time to pick up and rest assured Tobe Hooper creates an excellent production of horror. It is bloody and the atmosphere is murky at will. I found that there were some lengths at times building up but also a lot of very intense scenes.
It clicked with me this time, upon watching it reminded myself of an episode of 'The Twilight Zone'. The film is structured in a way that 'guests' begin to show up at the Hotel one by one. Through this we follow their journey, whether it be a family who needs to use the rest room, or Robert England coming by to harass crazy old man Judd. Breaking it down, it feels like mini TV episodes, however by the end everything falls together. We follow these individual stories and see the horrible events that happen to them. The rich and vibrant colours add to this surreal atmosphere, with rich reds seeping through the windows, or the gothic purple vibe of the swamp. Upon his second visit I realised how insanely colourful it was, giving it one of the most unique distinct looks of 70's horror. The films pacing is good, leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat awaiting what will be next, when Judd snaps its moments of intensity that cause fear.
What makes "Eaten Alive" is the environment which is made of sticky swamp mist and fish reeks at the distance, the croaking amphibians. Judd is a character tortured by the most powerful madness that I could see in cinema history: it exceeds Spinell, Torrance, Ed Gein, Bates, with this inner fever like a tormented Vietnam that erupts in a paranoid schizophrenia in relation to his beast, pure hellish; and we must see this movie just to understand what agitates, tempted by sin, and full of character that contains symbols Hooper always inserts by innuendo willingly playing with a music that he himself made with Wayne Bell and graphic effects rather well brought in this fragmented universe that looks like a psychosis. A very good film, not so terrifying that it certainly, but one of the most fevered movies genre cinema could offer.
Eaten Alive comes recommended, being Hooper, it is well written, has amazing atmosphere, and suspense. Its a step above the average grindhouse film as Hooper himself is an intelligent hippy who makes films with underlying themes and concepts. Overall do yourself a favour and pick up this forgotten gem.
This new Blu-Ray from Glass Doll films is a revelation. The previous DVD release did not do it justice, in fact was probably one of the contributing factors to not liking the film upon first visit. The old transfer was dark, murky, had ghosting issues and so much grain to the point where it was unbearable. This new Blu-Ray is presented in its original aspect ration of 1.85:1. The film is incredibly clean with little to no traces of dirt or specs. The black levels are rich and there is no compression or artefact issues. The colours finally stand out, its like watching an entirely new film, reds and blues bleed on screen. The grain is there but a natural layer and blends in well providing us with detail not previously seen.
Presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, the film sounds great. Dialogue is clear, the previous DVD sounded very muffled at times with cracks and pops. None of that is found here, it is clean and precise. The films score really does blast too, making use of the mix.
Most Australian distributors will usually skimp out on the extras, giving us barebones releases. I have to give Glass doll films a round of applause as they have compiled an insane amount of extras into this release, creating the most definitive version of the film to date.
24 Page Booklet
Audio Commentary by Producer Mardi Rustam, Actors Roberta Collins, William Finley, Kyle Richards & Make-Up Artist Craig Reardon
Exclusive Audio Commentary from The Terror Transmission team Jason Andreasson & Matt G. Paradise
Blood on the Bayou – A Brand New Interview with Tobe Hooper
The Gator Creator - Archival Interview with Tobe Hooper
My Name is Buck – Archival Interview with Robert Englund
The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend Of Joe Ball
5ive minutes with Marilyn Burns - Jason Andreasson interviews Marilyn Burns
Special Tribute to Marilyn Burns: Short testimonials with Amy Steel (final girl in Friday the 13th Part 2), Brinke Stevens (90s Scream Queen par excellence), Camille Keaton (I Spit on Your Grave), Lynn Lowry (Shivers and Cat People), as well as Bill Johnson (longtime friend of Marilyn and Leatherface in TCM 2), R.A. Mihaloff (Leatherface in TCM 3) Gunnar Hansen, Bill Moseley, Linnea Quigley & Steve Railsback.
Extended interview with John Dugan (Grandpa in the original TCM)
Still Gallery Slideshow
Alternate Credits & Title Sequences
2 Radio spots
7 Theatrical Trailers
From the first frames Alfred Hitchcock builds the visual and musical elements to a sensational tension and subliminal eerie atmosphere. Over the course of the film these elements are consistently increased becoming more threatening and unnerving. The suspense is started subtly but ends strongly.
For example, small things that we'd take for granted, like being stopped by a traffic cop, Hitchcock drives the voltage in situations like this to the highest peak. The arrival at the Bates Motel is the culmination of the initial basic tension that actually began in the first 30 minutes. But there in the rainy night when the "BATES MOTEL" roadside sign lights up, you realize that this place guards dark secrets.
Marion Crane embezzles $ 40,000 through her employer and thus is on the run. When in the evening she is too tired to continue to drive, she stops at the unnasuming Bates Motel, one of many roadside stops. Here she meets the sympathetic and out of sorts, taxidermy hobbyist Norman Bates who runs the Motel under the supervision of his unseen yet controlling mother. However, her respite is short lived and ends in one of the most shocking scenes in film history. From here it turns into THE groundbreaking horror spectacle (for 60s standards), a psychological thriller that required Hitchcock to add a spoiler warning to future audiences at the beginning of its initial run.
Feeling the guilt of what she has done in stealing the money she decides to return it, hopefully without notice. But one must be refreshed before such a journey. So she decides to take a shower.... Here horror and cinemas thrills changed forever. Marion is attacked in the shower by the jealous and possessive Mrs. Bates and murdered with a now iconic shaped knife. Panicked, Norman hides any trace (including the large quantity of money) should the police investigate the matter. A private detective hired by Marion's employers is soon despatched to find her and recover the money, but what he finds is that all is not as it seems at the Bates Motel. Also along for the search is Marion's sister and Marion's boyfriend Sam. Plot twists start HERE! and cinema has been trying to out-do it from here, sometimes to great effect, but this really is the "Mother" of them all.
In addition to Alfred Hitchcock's daring, often voyeuristic and brutal staging is the outstanding acting of Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), Janet Leigh (Marion Crane), Vera Miles (Marion's sister Lila), John Gavin (Marion's boyfriend Sam Loomis) and Martin Balsam (Detective Arbogast) and the groundbreaking and iconic score of composer Bernard Herrmann. After 55 years, Psycho remains the origin of modern horror! Everything in Psycho works to perfection! An exceptional cast, where each embodies his or her character as if it was the last role they have to play. The scenario is worked brilliantly, we go from revelation to revelation until the great final scene. A master piece from the beautiful cinematography and sound design complete the package. In a genre that has since given us films such as "The Shining" or "Silence of the Lambs", Psycho is absolutely essential viewing.
Psycho 2: 4/5
The film was released in 1983 and directed by Richard Franklin and screenplay by Tom Holland. Staring Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), Vera Miles (Lila Loomis) and Meg Tilly (Mary Loomis) it was, for me a very pleasant surprise. Indeed it was not at all easy to follow up the masterpiece of Sir Alfred Hitchcock. With few exceptions, the sequels of a successful films are often very poor. Either they offer an almost identical story and bore the audience, or they give a story that deviates too much from the previous film and confuse us. "Psycho 2" to my great satisfaction does not fall into the trap and offers a scenario that is both a sequel (This starts with the shower scene from the first film and Bates incarceration in a psychiatric hospital) but also a very well done story with multiple twists.
After 22 years spent in a psychiatric hospital, Norman Bates is released and returns home to the Bate Motel, despite the insistence of Lila Loomis (Marion's sister in the first film) who is still haunted by the murder of her sister. The current manager has turned it into a brothel which greatly displeases Bates. He is forced to take a small job in a restaurant where he befriends a co-workerMary (Tilly). Norman has apparently accepted the death of his mother and trying very hard not to relapse.
Yet strange events make him ask lots of questions. Is his mother still alive? Surly not...right? But there are questions that need to be answered. After that, everything follows with multiple twists that are still very chilling. This sequel which is quite different from the first does not suffering at all from the comparisons. It is very original and exciting.
To summarize, although knowing that there will be none better than the first, Richard Franklin and Tom Holland realized there is a nice gamble at the sequel game.
Psycho 3: 4/5
This third installment released in 1986 and directed by Anthony Perkins himself from a screenplay by Charles Edward Pogue stars Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), Diana Scarwid (Maureen Coyle), Jeff Fahey (Duane Duke) and Roberta Maxwell (Tracy Venable).
The beginning drags a bit long, the suspense is gone, the history is no real surprise.
For the viewer who has never seen the other two there is not enough evidence to really understand all of the Bates story. The film is fairly coherent as it picks up the story where "Psycho II" had left us. Some reminders of the other two films are given to us like the murder of the shower, and the character of Madame Spool. Unfortunately this is not enough. As for the positives, Anthony Perkins is still great in the role of Norman Bates and his chemistry with Scarwid is appealing.
Maureen Coyle really resembles Marion Crane (see the first film). She's a mentally unstable nun who has been living at the Motel. After an attempted suicide she thinks she sees a religious figure and is saved by Bates. And sparks fly!
A drifter named Duane Duke is also staying and has his own agenda as things at the hotel start to get out of hand.
Unfortunately the film at this stage becomes a bit too self-referential and Perkins tries his best to use Hitchcockian stylings as much as he can. The film upon its relates was well received (heck, even Roger Ebert gave it a positive review). Yet this film is a decent entry in the series where it fills in a few more of the backstory we didn't previously know and a must for fans of Norman Bates.
Psycho IV: 3.5/5
This fourth installment of the Psycho saga addresses an interesting topic and it is different from the other two sequels. The scenario is quite original, a radio program talking about matricide (Killing ones mother).Norman Bates, now married, calls to talk about his childhood and his murderous acts . Radio talk show host Fran Ambrose is discussing the topic of matricide with her guest Dr. Richmond, Norman's former psychologist. Norman calls the show, using the alias "Ed", to tell his story. Most of the film thus passes through the Norman adolescence and shows the conflicts he had with his mother which makes us understand a lot about her personality and finally shows us her murder and that of and his stepfather. Even if there are some rather long scenes they are useful to the film and we learn back story. To sum it up "Psycho 4" is pretty interesting and it is absolutely worth watching, especially if you liked the others. Also Psycho IV can be seen as the REAL 'Bates Motel', giving a backstory in detail and showing what drove Norman to be the way he ended up.
Psycho (1998): 3/5
In a unique cinematic experience, Gus Van Sant launches the extreme challenge of returning the Hitchcock film shot for shot, but in colours and with fresh actors. Apart from the tribute to the master, without being a total plagiarism (arguable) or a transposition, he creates an exercise in style succession of incredible virtuosity. The result is breathtaking: a film that is both identical to the original and gives a completely different effect. Besides the significant modernization of the female characters and much less conventional, color and radiate light and it become the essence of the new film. So props to Christopher Doyle, the brilliant director of photograph. I think to fully appreciate this unique approach is essential to properly remember the Hitchcock movie because the interest is in its rewrite and not in suspense. The ideal would be to see both films simultaneously propose that, for some sequences, the bonus interesting around the controversy surrounding this film. This remake has grown on me over the years; I originally hated it and thought it was a complete outrage and insult to the original, but knowing the directors work, I then realised maybe there was more to it under the surface.
Bates Mote: 1987 3.5/5
First of all, this is not the current TV series 'Bates Motel'. It's a 1987 pilot of a TV show that attempted to spin off the Psycho Movie. The Bates Motel Pilot is more of a 'haunting ghost story' rather than a slasher storyline.
Bud Cort plays Alex West, a psychiatric patient who inherited the Bates Hotel from Norman Bates after he passes away in a mental institution. Add an annoying offsider by the way of Lori Petty that hangs around like a bad smell and the producers thought they'd have a good TV show.
Had the pilot been picked up, it seemed to be a 'Twilight Zone' show of sorts. I also assume it was supposed to follow the 'guest of the week' formula of storytelling as per the pilot: a guest stays at the Bates Hotel, they would face their demons and there would be some supernatural resolution by the time they checked out. Continuity isn't one of the shows strong points - the show doesn't fit into the Psycho continuity as by the time Psycho IV is released, it clearly ignores the events of this pilot as Norman Bates is alive and well in that movie.
As for the product itself, a MOD DVD-R, the video and sound is pretty good. I guess anything from the official source is better than the many bootlegs floating around out there. My only regret is the cover design that they chose for the DVD - some people will of course get confused with the current TV series and the original painted VHS cover of Bud Cort holding a hotel check-in book with 'UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT' stamped across it was pretty good.
Still, for Psycho completists like me, I'm just happy to own this one.
The Psycho Legacy: 4/5
The documentary consists essentially of interview excerpts and commentary film clips with participating directors and actors, from "Psycho" influenced filmmakers and particularly fans. In chronological order it is received on each of the 4 parts of the film over 20 minutes. In as much as both Alfred Hitchcock and Norman Bates Actor Anthony Perkins are sadly passed away, on one hand both are back on some unreleased archive material. The extras are extensive and consist of further interviews and various "Deleted Scenes" from "Psycho" films.
actor. Since the film has no story line and interviewed persons themselves or "represent" their memories, there is no actor in the strict sense.
The film makes one curious about the film series. "Psycho" has seen a lot of attention and media coverage over the years, the sequels were but largely ignored. The film gives the impression that the parties were aware and have very much a reason to invest a lot of energy and creativity in the sequel. This contributes enormously to rethink the vision concerning Part 2-4 and you may look at in a different light.. My curiosity is aroused by this documentary; in any case to see more of Norman Bates. Thus, the otherwise highly entertaining and informative documentary. Furthermore, I must confess also that I have forwarded to this doc, however there are major spoiler . I recommend therefore, be sure to first to look at the film series and subsequently to deepen the documentary. The rare archival footage is worth it alone.
Video/ Audio: 4.5/5
The psycho set includes an array of different films from different time periods; resulting in differing source materials.
Psycho (1960) 5/5:
Shot in black and white, this print comes off very clean with little to no specs. The black levels are rich and the detail is impressive, this is the transfer universal used for its original blu-ray and it still holds up very strong.
The Audio is a brilliant 5.1 master mix, so all detail is heard in every shot with no pops or crackles. The score really come across strong, giving rich detail to the orchestral classic.
Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1
Audio - English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Psycho II (1983) 4/5
/Psycho III (1986) : 4.5
This transfer is the same we presume as the U.S Scream factory release, both use the same original aspect ratio. The colours are rich and vibrant with the sun bleached cinematography not looking washed out. There is natural grain and no sign of print damage. Psycho 3 has the better transfer of the 2, also it could be de tot the better source material when it was shot. The outdoor scenes remain strong yellow desert and rich black levels indoor,
Both films use a another 5.1 DTS master mix, which overall impresses with its level of detail.
Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1
Audio - English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Psycho IV (1990) [Blu-Ray] 4/5
First Time on Blu-Ray, presented in its original spect ratio, this is like Bates Motel a TV Movie. The film stock is clean with no dirts or specs. In HD there is a lot of detail, with natural grain and black levels.
Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1
Audio - English Dolby Digital 5.1
Duration - 93
Psycho (1998) 4.5/5
The Remake is presented in its original aspect ratio. Its actually the better looking film of the box set, shot on a high budget and 35mm Film. It is an incredible clean print, skin tones and backgrounds are natural. The colours are rich and vibrant and the black levels come off with no digital grain.
Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1
Audio - English Dolby Digital 5.1
Duration - 104
Bates Motel (1987) 4/5
This was a shot for TV movie, however we have to say that the transfer was very impressive. For years only poor quality bootlegs have existed from VHS rips. His is taken from the film elements.
Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1
Audio - English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Duration - 90
The Psycho Legacy (2010 Documentary) 4.5/5
Shot Digitally, this mixes old archive film and VHS footage. The digital stuff does look strong and looks perfectly fine on DVD, no Blu is required.
Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1
Audio - English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Duration - 90
This boxset is absolutely packed and the most complete package you will ever find, it contains documentaries, making offs, commentaries etc. Psycho 4 and BatesMotel have no extras, however they are covered in the psycho legacy.
The Psycho Legacy alone would have been the ultimate extra, but via vision have really outdone themselves.
Audio Commentary with Stephen Rebello, Author of "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho"
The Making of Psycho documentary
In the Master's Shadow: Hitchcock's Legacy
Hitchcock / Truffaut audio interview with scenes from the movie
Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho
The Shower Scene: With & Without Music
The Shower Sequence: Storyboards by Saul Bass image gallery
The Psycho Archives image gallery
Posters and Psycho Ads image gallery
Lobby Cards image gallery
Behind the Scenes Photographs image gallery
Publicity Shots image gallery
Psycho II (1983)
Audio Commentary with screenwriter Tom Holland
Cast and Crew Interviews
2 Theatrical Trailers
4 TV Spots
Option to play the film accompanied by vintage audio interviews with Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Janet Leigh, Richard Franklin, and Alfred Hitchcock (first fifteen minutes, then the track goes back to the film's 2.0 stereo mix).
Psycho III (1986)
Audio Commentary with screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue
Watch the Guitar interview with actor Jeff Fahey
Patsy's Last Night interview with actor Katt Shea
Mother's Maker interview with special make-up effects artist Michael Westmore
Body Double interview with Brinke Stevens
Theatrical Trailer and TV Spot
Psycho Path documentary
International News Reel Footage
Additional Shower Scene
The Psycho Legacy (2010)
Full panel discussion with Perkins
PSYCHO reunion panel
A tour of the Bates Motel
Revisiting PSYCHO II: Sequel scripter Holland and Galluzzo go over original blueprints, newspaper clippings and articles and possessions left behind from PSYCHO II director
Shooting PSYCHO II interview featurette with cinematographer Dean Cundey
A visit with PSYCHO memorabilia collector Guy Thorpe
PSYCHO on the Web
The Hyaena Gallery presents serial-killer-inspired art