It’s Alive

It's Alive (1974) movie poster

(1974) director Larry Cohen
viewed: 10/10/10

“There’s only one thing wrong with the Davis baby…It’s Alive!”

Pretty great tag line for a rock solid B-movie horror film from director Larry Cohen.  And it kind of says it all.  It’s sort of like what if Rosemary’s Baby (1968) actually started where it ended.  A monster baby.  Fangs, claws, lots of going for the jugular.

I remembered this film somewhat vividly from childhood.  Vividly enough, I suppose.  Perhaps mixed up a little with the sequel It Lives Again (1978) in which the babies were seen a little bit more.  I think they were played on cable together a fair amount.  And I think I must have re-visited this in high school or shortly thereafter because I also recall seeing the much later third film, It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987) which was a lot more like a comedy as I recall.

Really, it was quite timely stuff.   In this case, the horrors embodied in the childbirth deformities created by Thalidomide and the like (in the film it’s a mixture of fertility drugs).  But rather than the real effects of such drugs, this time we get mutant monster babies, killing from the moment that they exit the womb and start breathing the air.  And designed by legendary FX man Rick Baker, the killer baby is quite a thing.   Mix in with those elements the whole nightmare of parenting turned up to the nth degree, and you’ve got a little shocker that has lots of hot buttons to push.

Mr. and Mrs. Davis are about to add to their little family, their baby is due.  They’d held off making their family larger, but now it’s time and they are excited.  Only, as I mentioned, when the baby pops out, it kills everyone in the OR except its mother and then escapes through a ventilation shaft.  It goes on a continued rampage, tearing apart a school and a milk truck, seeking its way back home to ma and pa.

John Ryan, a typical charactor-actor-like performer in a Larry Cohen movie, mumbles his way through much of the dialogue, as he struggles to take responsibility for the actions of his mutant child.  He and his wife go through pangs of denial (he wants to be the one to kill it) but eventually also come to sympathize with the powerful, easily frightened baby monster.

It’s inventive, weird horror at its best.  I mean, even now, nearly 40 years later it’s still one of the weirder, more out-there concepts for a movie.  And oddly enough, they did a re-make of it a couple years ago, which was supposedly so bad that it was straight to video and panned outright.  A classic is still a classic.

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