MANGIATI VIVI: Eaten Alive! (1980)

What happens when you throw assassins in New York City, cannibals in the jungle and a Jim Jones-like cult leader into a big pot and set it to boil? You get Eaten Alive!

Sheila (Janet Agren, City of the Living Dead, Hands of Steel) is searching for her sister, Diana (Paola Senatore, Emanuelle in America)who has disappeared in the jungle. She hires Mark (Robert Kerman, Cannibal Holocaust) to help her find her way through the jungle. Oh yeah — and there are killers in the city using blowdarts. That doesn’t matter so much once we’re in the jungle.

When they find Diana — after being chased by cannibals — they learn that she has joined the cult of Jonas (Ivan Rassimov, everyone cheer when he shows up to make this movie awesome), who abuses, murders, manipulates and mindfucks everyone and anyone he gets close to. Seriously, the minute Jonas shows up, this film goes off the rails. First, he burns a man on a funeral pyre and then orders his wife Mowara (Me Me Lai, who thanks to appearances in this film, Last Cannibal World and Man from Deep River is pretty much to this genre as Edwich Fenech, Barbara Bouchet or Nieves Navaro are to giallo)to be ritually raped. Then, he hypnotizes Sheila and takes her on an altar using a snake phallus covered in venom and blood (yep, really).

Jonas preaches the Book of Isiah and pretty much owns everyone he can get his hands on, but Mowara, Sheila, Mark and Diana all attempt to escape. Diana and Mowara are overtaken by cannibals, with Diana graphically devoured while her sister and Mark watch helplessly. A helicopter arrives at the last minute to save them while the film goes into full exploitation mode, with the cult killing themselves ala Jonestown, leaving only one female survivor.

Oh man, I forgot! Mel Ferrer (The Visitor, Nightmare City) shows up as a professor!

Director Umberto Lenzi knows how to make a down and dirty film. He also knows how to keep it entertaining. Just witness other films he’s done like Ghosthouse! Plus, he’s the master of recycling, as this film re-uses the crocodile death and a woman being eaten from his 1972 film Sacrifice! (also starring Rassimov and Me Me Lai), Me Me Lai’s death from Ruggero Deodato’s Jungle Holocaust and a castration, a monkey being devoured and a man being eaten by a crocodile from Sergio Martino’s Slave of the Cannibal God. You could say he…cannibalized those movies! Sorry.

Again, keep in mind that these are rough films. They’re nearly indefensible, to be honest. I kind of wish the story of Jonas and his cult was more of the movie, with less of the cannibals. But you know, I can’t send notes back to Lenzi with a time machine or anything!

You can find this at Severin, who just put out an insanely detailed reissue, along with alternate slipcases, t-shirts and a Lenzi enamel pin! You can also watch it on Shudder.

PS – Amazingly, it wasn’t until I read this review that I learned that Eaten Alive was three different movies — Jungle Holocaust, The Man from Deep River and Mountain of the Cannibal God (look for that in a few days!)  — along with some Jim Jones thrown in.

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