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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Horror Hotel" or "Starlight Slaughter " or "Death Trap" or "Legend of the Bayou" )

 

directed by Tobe Hooper

 

Nearly a decade before he donned Freddy Kruger's famous red and green sweater, horror icon Robert Englund delivered a supremely sleazy performance in Eaten Alive - another essay in taut Southern terror from Tobe Hooper, director of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Deep in the Louisiana bayou sits the ramshackle Starlight Hotel, destination of choice for those who like to check in but not check out! Presided over by the bumbling, mumbling Judd (and his pet croc which he keeps in a large pond out front), the patron of this particular 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...

Oozing atmosphere from its every pore (the entire film was shot on a sound-stage at the famous Raleigh Studios, which lends it a queasy, claustrophobic feel) Eaten Alive matches
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre for sheer insanity - and even drafts in Chain Saw star Marilyn Burns as the terrorised woman-in-peril, alongside William Finley and Mel Ferrer.

***

Director Tobe Hooper's follow-up to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre presents yet another Southern-fried psycho (this time in Louisiana) in the form of a scripture-mumbling, one-legged cracker named Judd (Neville Brand). The proprietor of a seedy bayou inn, Judd keeps a pet gator in the nearby swamp, to which he frequently tosses the remains of his unfortunate victims -- including anyone who offends his delicate sensibilities. One such casualty is Harvey Wood (Mel Ferrer), arriving at Judd's hotel in search of his missing daughter... who, unbeknownst to her old man, has already met her own doom courtesy of the scythe-wielding madman. Other patrons include one of the most annoying families on record -- with Chainsaw veteran Marilyn Burns as the strangely-bewigged mom, William Finley as the browbeaten husband and future Halloween tyke Kyle Richards as the endlessly-shrieking daughter (whose adorable puppy becomes a light gator-snack). Nightmare on Elm Street fans can spot a young, pre-Freddy Robert Englund in a small role as a lecherous cracker. Originally titled Death Trap and known by many aliases, including Starlight Slaughter, Horror Hotel Massacre and Legend of the Bayou.

Posters

Theatrical Release: May 13th, 1977

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Comparison:

Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray

(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT)

Thanks to Eric Cotenas for the DVD captures!

Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duplicate Blu-ray edition also available in North America a day later.

   

Distribution

Dark Sky Films

Region 1 - NTSC

Arrow Video USA + UK
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:30:45 1:30:52.155
Video

Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.9 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 41,714,971,397 bytes

Feature: 24,637,526,976 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.94 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Dark Sky Films

 

Bitrate:

 Blu-ray

Arrow Video

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono; French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono; Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, none English (SDH), none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Dark Sky Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic -

Edition Details:
DISC ONE:
Audio commentary with co-writer and producer Mardi Rustam, actors Roberta Collins, William Finley,
and make-up artist Craig Reardon
Still Gallery

DISC TWO:
'My Name is Buck' interview with actor Robert Englund (16:9; 15:03)
'The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball' (16:9; 23:02)
'The Gator Creator: Tobe Hooper' (16:9; 19:37)
'5ive Minutes with Marilyn' (16:9 5:18)
 Trailers: 'Death Trap' Green and Red Band, 'Eaten Alive' Green and Red Band, 'Starlight Slaughter',
 'Horror Hotel', and Japanese 'The Devil's Swamp'
 TV and Radio Spots: 2x for 'Starlgiht Slaughter' and 2x for 'Eaten Alive'
 Slideshow
 Alternate Credits for 'Death Trap' and 'Starlight Slaughter' (16:9; 2:32)
 Comment Cards

DVD Release Date: September 25th, 2007
Amaray

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow

 

1.85:1 1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 41,714,971,397 bytes

Feature: 24,637,526,976 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.94 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

Audio commentary with co-writer and producer Mardi Rustam, actors Roberta Collins, William Finley and Kyle Richards, and make-up artist Craig Reardon
New introduction to the film by Hooper (:20)

Blood on the Bayou a brand new interview with Hooper (14:03)
Gator Bait a brand new interview with star Janus Blythe (11:38)
Monsters and Metaphors a brand new interview with make-up artist Craig Reardon (11:25)
The Gator Creator an archive interview with Hooper (19:38)
My Name is Buck an archive interview with star Robert Englund (15:05)
5ive Minutes with Marilyn Burns the Texas Chain Saw star discusses her role in Eaten Alive (5:18)
The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball featurette looking at the true-life story of the South Texas bar owner on whom Eaten Alive is loosely based (23:05)
7 Original theatrical trailers for the film under its various alternate titles: Eaten Alive, Death Trap, Starlight Slaughter and Horror Hotel
4 TV and Radio Spots
Alternate Opening Titles (1:05)
Behind the Scenes Slideshow
Stills and Promo Material Gallery
Audience Comment Cards
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Brad Stevens, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

DVD included!

Blu-ray Release Date: September 22nd, 2015
Transparent
Blu-ray case

Chapters: 14

 

 

 

Comments

Firstly, the Arrow is really Region 'A + B' but I've yet to see a region 'C'-locked Blu-ray so let's just consider this region FREE.

Regarding differences in the US and UK Blu's - I suspect it as Michael Brooke informed us on Facebook about Day of Anger: 'As the producer of Arrow's release, I can confirm first hand that the UK and US discs are absolutely identical: we only paid for one master, so there's no doubt about this at all! Which means that no matter which package you buy, the discs will play in any Region A or B setup (or Region 1 or 2 for DVD - and in the latter case the video standard is NTSC, to maximise compatibility). The booklets are also identical, but there are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.'

Arrow's Blu-ray/DVD combo is technically the film's fifth digital release stateside following Diamond Entertainment's unauthorized and cut fullscreen edition, Elite Entertainment's non-anamorphic letterboxed disc, and Dark Sky's single-disc edition which was recalled when a better print source was found and transferred for Dark Sky's two-disc edition. The 1080P - sourced from 35mm is a substantial improvement in every visual area looking much more like film while the SD looked like video. The HD cited as 'a brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative' and has more information in the frame, is much sharper and grain is supported without the artifacts of the SD.

Arrow go with an authentically flat linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps in 24-bit. It's as good as the film will probably ever sound. Effects, scream and aggression all come across with a some minor depth but are reflective of the original production. The score is by Wayne Bell and Tobe Hooper - the former credited with the music on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles on the Arrow.

In addition to some brand new extras (see Gary's comments below), Arrow's release reproduces all of the Dark Sky extras starting with a commentary featuring separately-recorded input from producer Mardi Rustam, actors Roberta Collins, William Finley, and Kyle Richards, as well as effects artist Craig Reardon. Rustam recalls how co-producer/writer Alvin Fast pitched the film to him to cash-in on JAWS, hiring Hooper and the contributions of TEXAS CHAINSAW writer Kim Henkel, as well as the scenes he added after Hooper left the project and the work of cinematographer Robert Caramico who tore up his union card when they tried to prevent him working on the film (after the cinematographer he had recommended proved unsuitable) and also directed some scenes. Collins only appears for her murder sequence and recalls liking Brand even though she thought he might actually kill her when he invited her to dinner. Finley appears for the duration of his screentime, discussing how he met Hooper, his interpretation of his character (who the producer told him was mentally-challenged), working with Brand, the ear-splitting screams of Burns and Richards, and the malfunctioning mechanical croc. Richards recalls the traumatic experience of working on the film compared to HALLOWEEN where it felt like she was playing every day (including checkers with Michael Myers). Reardon pops up about as often as Rustam on the track, discussing his first experience as a make-up artist on the film, being the fall guy for the make-up artist he was supposed to replace but stayed on the production, and expresses his admiration for Brand, Hooper, and Mel Ferrer.

In "My Name is Buck" actor Robert Englund discusses his initial stage ambitions before heading to Hollywood, early film roles, the opportunity to work with actors like Brand, Jones, Whitman, and Ferrer even on a low budget film, as well as Hooper's directing methods. "The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball" (16:9; 23:02) profiles the WWI vet turned bootlegger and then bartender who had a pond with six alligators and murdered a number of women (including his wife) and supposedly fed them to the alligators (although there is no concrete evidence that they actually ate them). In "The Gator Creator: Tobe Hooper" the director discusses his career in the wake of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, the protracted development of EATEN ALIVE (which "has as many scripts as titles"), location scouting before deciding to use a soundstage and unreal "twilight" lighting, the usual reflections on the cast, the hassles with the crocodile, and producer interference. In "5ive Minutes with Marilyn", the actress discusses looking for work in Hollywood following TCM, has more pleasant memories of the shoot than other cast and crew, and seeing the finished film with her parents. There are a wealth of trailers for the film's different releases under the titles of DEATH TRAP, EATEN ALIVE, STARLIGHT SLAUGHTER, and HORROR HOTEL stateside as well as THE DEVIL'S SWAMP in Japan, as well as two TV spots each for STARLIGHT SLAUGHTER and EATEN ALIVE. The alternate credits option features full opening credits for DEATH TRAP but only part of the STARLIGHT SLAUGHTER sequence because a few of the credits in this version were moved to after the first murder. Also included are a photo gallery on the first disc and another on the second, as well as a gallery of comment cards.

There are are some new Arrow-produced supplements on the Blu-ray release. We get a brief introduction to the film by Hooper and three new interviews; Blood on the Bayou spends 14-minutes with the director talking about the production, Gator Bait a brand new 12-minute interview with star Janus Blythe and we get a similar length of time in Monsters and Metaphors with make-up artist Craig Reardon. The Blu-ray release includes 7 original theatrical trailers for the film under its various alternate titles: Eaten Alive, Death Trap, Starlight Slaughter and Horror Hotel as well as 4 TV and Radio Spots. We can see a minute's worth of the alternate opening Death Trap title, a Behind the Scenes Slideshow and a stills and promo material gallery. The Arrow package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin and contains a liner notes collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Brad Stevens, illustrated with original archive stills and posters. It is dual-format with a DVD included.

Certainly, this is the definitive package for Hooper's Crocodile-infused horror on the Bayou. Fans of the genre and director should be very pleased with this Blu-ray package that leaves no stone unturned in the extras department and a pure triumph for the audio/visual presentation. Absolutely recommended!

 - Eric Cotenas and Gary Tooze

 


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Screen Captures Subtitles Sample - Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


(Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Blu-ray

 
Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duplicate Blu-ray edition also available in North America a day later.

   

Distribution

Dark Sky Films

Region 1 - NTSC

Arrow Video USA + UK
Region FREE -
Blu-ray

 




 

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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...