Mangiati Vivi! / Eaten Alive! (1980)

Professor Carter: "Cannibals. Instead of buying frozen meat in a supermarket. They get theirs fresh from people like you."
By Umberto Lenzi
With Robert Kerman, Janet Agren and Ivan Rassimov

I was looking for the other Eaten Alive (1977) and I remembered this one, in its original Italian title Mangiati Vivi! also known as Eaten Alive!. I had read about it after I watched Cannibal Ferox (1981) and so, while stumbling upon it once again, I decided it could be a great feat to watch the both Eaten Alive one night.

Mangiati vivi! is about Sheila Morris who is being interrogated by the police about the disappearance of her sister Diana. The only clue they have is a film that shows some sort of cult and she appears on it. After an investigation, they realize she must have went with Jonas, the leader of a cult that rejects civilisation and calls for a return to nature. The leader and its members have all gone to the jungle, a place where no one could escape for it is surrounded by cannibalistic tribes. Sheila decides to go pick up her sister, finds the help of Vietnam deserter Mark Butler and they both end up in the cult'd settlement.

Watching Mangiati vivi! felt like watching Cannibal Ferox (1981) all over again. They are very similar. The locations are different and the cult was then replaced by a student's research but it has all the same themes, which are shared also with a lot of Italian horror movies of the 80's. The blatant misogyny, the awesome English dubbings with their one liners, the killing of way too many animals to justify the creation of the animals guild, free topless shots of the fantastic plastic of the actresses, few scenes in New York, cannibals, missing limbs, castration and of course, a ton of jungle shots.

Well, this movie is definitely for a converted audience, but it works well. The idea of the cult is a bit dull, but apparently it was inspired by a real cult so you can't blame them--after all, it justifies the trip to cannibals' land. It's a very solid cannibal movie overall, but don't watch it for the plot or the acting. The gore scenes are plenty, the stereotypical cannibal tribes are... well, typical and the cult leader is obnoxious and most likely a fraud. What's not to like?

I liked: It feels old, it feels cheap, it feels like Italian horror.

I disliked: Between the slaps, the punches, the eating of breasts and the overall sexual abuse of women, it's not your feminist dreamlike movie. Did they really use Sri Lanka for Guinea?

I like cheap Italian horror. Cannibals not as much as zombies but it's quite gory, funny...and entertaining.


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