Dismissed and forgotten almost immediately upon its theatrical release, Eaten Alive predictably suffered from being Tobe Hooper’s follow-up to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Thirty years later, however, that fate seems the product not just of unfair expectations but also of an audience unwillingness to accept its aggressively abstract argument in favor of nihilism. “My name is Buck, and I’m rarin’ to fuck,” says Robert England’s anally obsessed rural degenerate as Hooper’s camera stares at his jeans-encased crotch, a perfectly skuzzy opening moment for a film that celebrates unbridled sadism and random cruelty without the comforting filters of narrative coherence, character development, or concessions to realism. Alas, while its rejection of standard, soothing conventions is admirable, Eaten Alive’s off-the-wall hybridization of Tennessee Williams, Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho, specifically), and Lucio Fulci is more often than not sloppy. To its credit, the film’s opaque story – in which events pile upon each other with no discernable logic – as well as chintzy effects and motel set create an unreal atmosphere that augments its grotesque portrait of backwater Southern culture. And as Judd, the scythe-wielding motel proprietor who likes to feed guests (including TCM’s Marilyn Burns) to his laughably phony-looking killer crocodile, Neville Brand delivers a spitting, blazing-eyed performance full of muttered scripture, denunciations of prostitution and maniacal grins. Yet any hint that the evildoer’s madness stems from knotty psychosexual issues remains as underdeveloped as every other aspect of Hooper’s sophomore effort, which earns points for its uncompromising vileness and pessimism, but – imparting the impression that it was slapped together without much thought or care – never finds a way to make its hallucinatory horror frightening or as bleakly amusing as his similar, subsequent, and superior The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.