Eaten Alive! – Italy, 1980

‘Trapped in a jungle of crazy flesh eaters!’

Eaten Alive! – original title: Mangiati vivi! – is a 1980 Italian cannibal film written and directed by Umberto Lenzi (Nightmare City; Eyeball; Seven Blood-Stained Orchids; et al). The story is loosely based on the Jonestown Massacre of 1978. Alternative titles include Doomed to DieThe Emerald Jungle and Eaten Alive by Cannibals.

The film stars Robert Kerman, Janet Agren, Paola Senatore, Mel Ferrer, Ivan Rassimov and Me Me Lai.

Janet Agren Eaten Alive!

Alongside Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox, Eaten Alive! is one of the most notorious cannibal films. The film features scenes of nudity, castration, carnal assault, animal cruelty, graphic gore and mondo footage of a pain ceremony.

Most of the violent scenes from the film were lifted from other movies in the genre, namely Lenzi’s previous cannibal film from 1972, The Man from Deep River (footage of a mongoose fighting a cobra and a native woman being sexually assaulted); Ruggero Deodato’s Last Cannibal World (a tribal castration and fatal punishment scene, 1976) and Sergio Martino’s The Mountain of the Cannibal God (a python eating a monkey, 1978).

At Niagara Falls and then in Manhattan, a trio of men are killed by an Asian assailant with a deadly blow-pipe. The police are baffled…

Meanwhile, Alabama-born Sheila (Janet Agren) is searching for her sister Diana (Paola Senatore), who has disappeared in New Guinea. Sheila hires American dropout Mark (Robert Kerman), and they encounter many jungle perils, especially when one of their guides is eaten by a crocodile.

It transpires that Diana has joined a “purification” cult run by a “cruel sadist” named Jonas (Ivan Rassimov). Jonas physically and sexually abuses his followers and local people alike…

Eaten Alive 1980 Me Me Lai


“This is not a good film by any means, and probably the most inept of all the Italian cannibal outings. And, as with most cannibal films, it contains the obligatory animal violence, which many find offensive. But, if you’re a tolerant film viewer, this can also be good, cheesy fun. The film is full of appalling dialogue, excessive gore and bad acting, with some gratuitous nudity added to the heady mix.” Digital Retribution

“So devoid of logic that it could be termed dreamlike if it were more technically proficient, Eaten Alive heaps on the gory goods […] Lenzi shot this one fast, loose and quick, so it’s a credit that, repugnant animal atrocities aside, the results turned out to be this fast-paced and entertaining.” Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital

“As a fan of Italian horror from this time period, I did get a kick out of just how outrageous Eaten Alive! was, though I realize that opinion will likely put me in the minority. So, for everyone else, let me sum up by saying Eaten Alive! is an exploitative, mean-spirited, often sickening gorefest.” Dave Becker, 2,500 Movies Challenge

“The reflectionist commentary of Cannibal Holocaust is obviously missing here, and its collection of atrocities being visited on (mostly) female bodies is little more than standard gore-fare, but there is a certain urge to the film that is difficult to describe. It is almost as if the film could not quite decide what it wanted to be and attempted to cover its back by touching upon key genre elements…”

“So it’s a faster moving film than Ferox (the gory cannibal action happens much earlier) but comes across as a blander production with only the nudity and well handled gore holding the attention. Enjoyably cheesy but only really recommended to Italian trash cinema completists.” Beardy Freak

“The gore scenes housed within the film “proper” are laughably crude, but fairly mean-spirited and indicative of the era. To Lenzi’s merit, there has at least been an attempt to match in the stock footage, from the previously mentioned films, that helps gloss over their blatant pilferage.” M.C. Thomason, Sex Gore Mutants

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Choice dialogue:

“You saw a monkey do his job. The survival of the fittest. You’ll see a lot worse before this is over.”

“The whole world has to know that the stone age still exists. Not everybody’s living in the space age.”

doomed to die aka eaten alive poster3

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