Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Eaten Alive (1980, Umberto Lenzi)

Umberto Lenzi is credited with starting the Italian Cannibal craze (for better or worse) with his 1972 film The Man from Deep River.  The film was basically a remake of the Richard Harris film A Man Called Horse, only instead of Richard Harris being captured by Indians and eventually becoming part of their tribe, it was Ivan Rassimov being captured by Cannibals and ...well, I'm sure you can guess.  Several years later, the same year as Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust, Lenzi made the second of his three Cannibal films, Mangiati Vivi!...aka Eaten Alive. 

Eaten Alive follows Sheila Morris (Janet Agren), a woman who travels to New York to search for her sister Diana (Paola Senatore), who has gone missing.  Sheila soon finds out that her sister went into the jungles of New Guinea to join a religious cult led by the sadistic Jonas (Ivan Rassimov).  Sheila hires badass Mark Butler (Robert Kerman) to help her travel into the deadly jungle to save her sister (for a mere 80 thousand dollars!).   After arriving at their destination, they are soon captured by Jonas and forced to join the cult.  Can they escape the commune through the Cannibal infested jungles or will they be....EATEN ALIVE?

Mangiati Vivi! is more of an incidental Cannibal film in the regard that the Cannibals are basically just a plot device and are not the main focus of the film.  Actually, the scenes of Cannibalism are mostly cut from previous Cannibal films (including Lenzi's Man from Deep River and Ruggero Deodato's far superior Last Cannibal World).  The characters are all pretty silly, including the Jim Jones-inspired cult leader who uses a dildo covered in snake's blood to defile one of the women.  Acting is pretty much non-existent too and the dubbing is noticeably bad.  One good aspect of the film is that the story is different and not just another "people stuck in the jungle running away from Cannibals" flick.  On the other hand, the films I've seen with that premise have all been superior, so maybe it's not so good.

RATING:  4/10

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