Saturday, 13 June 2009

EATEN ALIVE! Italian Cannibal and Zombie movies

Edited by Jay Slater
256 pages, B&W w/ Colour Insert
Dimensions: H=23cm W=17cm D=1.8cm
SRP £14.99(UK) $19.95(US)

This one takes a somewhat different's a series of articles, reviews and interviews, from a variety of different authors. The articles are arranged in chronological order, but as there is no linear meta-narrative joining them together, you are free to pick and choose where to pick up and leave off. If you've read my review of Zombiemania, you'll know this is something I rather like, and the same applies here. Eaten Alive! is another one for the 'bathroom bookshelf'.

As for the articles themselves, as you might very well expect it's quite a pot pourri given the diverse list of contributors, and there are some real surprises in there too. When I saw that Troma figurehead Lloyd Kaufman had contributed an article, I was expecting a rollicking and irreverent pun-filled yuckfest in keeping with the mood of his own superb book "All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger" (Which I can more than happily recommend, if you're wondering), a comedic counterpoint to some of the more serious critical analysis which undoubtedly lay ahead. Instead, you get an insightful, intelligent and utterly straight-faced dissection of Cannibal Holocaust which contextualises the film and the themes therein brilliantly.

Script snippets and portions of interviews with the leading lights (both from behind and in front of the camera) of this particular sub-genre are skillfully interwoven between the articles. All of the usual suspects are there (Morghen, MacColl, McCulloch), but it is disappointing to hear what low regard some of them have for these movies. Still, the inclusion of numerous juicy Lucio Fulci anecdotes does go same way towards redressing the damage.

Is it good value for money? I would answer with a most enthusiastic "Yes!", but you have to bear in mind that I picked my copy up off of Ebay for less than a third of the SRP, postage included...and I'm still feeling incredibly smug about it, thank you very much. Had I been forced to pay full price, I wouldn't be shedding too many tears though. If you can scare yourself up a copy for around the £10 mark, then you will have got yourself a genuine bargain (although not as good as mine!!!).

Of course, no doubt some of you are saying to yourselves right now: "Cool! So, which one should I get? Eaten Alive! or Cannibal?"

If you're anything like me (and I assume you are since you're here), then my honest answer would be to get both. Eaten Alive! seems like a slightly more substantial certainly has more pages, but they are smaller than the pages of Cannibal and not in glossy full colour either. The truth is that whilst they cover very much the same ground, they are as different as apples and oranges. Cannibal is the product of a single author, with a linear narrative. It's in full vibrant colour and is extremely well written...the only downside for me is that it is just too short. The old adage of 'Always leave them wanting more' has never been more appropriate.

Eaten Alive!, on the other hand, you certainly gives you a little more for your money (and it's cheaper too), but this is partially due to the fact that Slater is able utilise the work of multiple authors on the same subject (for example, there are no less than three pieces on Cannibal Holocaust), whereas John Martin only has the luxury of one.

Ultimately, it's the choice between a sixpack of domestic beers versus maybe a four-pack of a premium quality imported beer. You could make a similar analogy about hookers too, I guess, but I'm just too damned classy.

In short, if you like Italian exploitation flicks it's all good. If not, you have no soul.

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