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Eaten Alive | review | book | Lollipop
by Jay Slater (Plexus Publishing)
By John Bikowski
Whenever I see an Academy Awards show, I always feel they are neglecting one very important and influential genre: the Italian cannibal and zombie film. How can you not recognize the likes of Cannibal Holocaust, Dawn of the Dead, and The Gates of Hell! I know that I'm not alone in trumpeting the joyousness of those downright sleazy gorefests. Luckily, Jay Slater is on the scene with his new book, a comprehensive guide to spaghetti splatter in its purest form: The form that looks you in the eye as it greedily gnoshes on your large intestine and then pukes it up and slips on it. Ahh... those Italians can bring a tear to your eye.
Firstly, there would be a redundancy issue in the numerous film reviews if Slater penned the entire collection himself. Once he establishes his point of view and opinion of the genre, do we really need to read all 256 pages of it? Probably not. To combat this potential problem, Slater had the insight to incorporate submissions and reviews from a variety of well-versed horror buffs. Here you'll find hilarious contributions from the likes of David Schow (splatter author and screenwriter of The Crow), Jim Van Bebber (cutting-edge director of Deadbeat at Dawn), Ramsey Campbell (noted novelist), Lloyd Kaufman (the nutty president of Troma Films), and others.
Secondly, Slater went through a good deal of effort to secure loads of rare photos from a full range of cannibal and zombie classics. Most of the pictures are black & white, but several rare posters are in glorious color. Warning: Do not leave this book out in the kitchen like I did, whether you have kids or not. Not only are the photos disgusting, they're often very naughty with full frontal nudity and sex mixed with the bloodletting. For example, your unsuspecting Aunt Gertie could flip open to page 157 to see a homely zombie-kid biting off his mother's breast, or to page 162 to see a guy with most of his penis hacked off by a machete. Actually, there aren't too many safe pages as the photos are generously interspersed throughout.
As for the reviews and interviews, you'll find every zombie/cannibal film from the mainstream to the obscure. I'm not proud to say that I've seen virtually all of them, and some of them are on my all-time favorites list. If you're familiar with the likes of Dario Argento or Lucio Fulci, now is your chance to get introduced to other like-minded but even sicker Italian directors like Umberto Lenzi and Ruggero Deodato. Chances are you'll read about several films you've never heard of, but will want to seek out. Some are still pretty tough to find, but with the wave of rare films out on DVD, you should have some luck. You can now get previously unreleased gore like Zombie 4: After Death or Burial Ground uncut in mint quality for under $15. Armed with a few bucks, a DVD player, and your copy of Eaten Alive!, you should have everything you need to become an Italian cannibal connoisseur.