Retro-review: New on BluRay in an IT’S ALIVE TRILOGY COLLECTION from The Shout Factory; help me out and pick it up here on Amazon!
IT LIVES AGAIN (1978)
aka IT’S ALIVE II
Directed by Larry Cohen
Written by Larry Cohen
Starring Frederic Forrest, Kathleen Lloyd, John P. Ryan, John Marley, Andrew Duggan, Eddie Constantine, James Dixon, Dennis O’Flaherty, Melissa Inger, Jill Gatsby, Bobby Ramsen, Glenda Young, Lynn Wood
Larry Cohen expands the world of IT’S ALIVE in this sequel that improves on some of the concepts introduced in the original, but also basically mimics the structure and adds two more monsters to the mix.
The guilt ridden father, Frank Davis (John P. Ryan) returns to warn a new family (played by Frederic Forrest and Kathleen Lloyd) of the epidemic of mutant babies that is spreading across the nation. With the government eyeballing pregnancies, they are capturing and killing these mutants before they go on their rampages as the baby did in the original. This time around, through Frank’s efforts, a resistance force is able to get to the baby before the government does to eliminate it. But once at their secret facility, the three mutant babies they have managed to save escape and of course, the rampage begins anew.
Sure, this is basically the same movie times three. More mutant babies make for more carnage, but we still get the cross-eyed technicolor baby-view, the quick shots of the puppets (through this time we see a little more of them), and a higher death count. Once again, the parent’s struggle with the urge to protect their child and the urge to destroy something that is obviously a danger to themselves and others. All of these themes carry over from the first and in many ways, this is a rather tedious remake of the original.
At the same time, IT LIVES AGAIN expands nicely on the mythos showing a world that is adapting to the monstrosities. There are forces for and against the protection and destruction of the babies. There are ways to deal with the babies that were unknown in the original. I also liked the development of Frank Davis’ character, though he does just disappear from the story once the baby is born. I’d have loved to have seen Davis’ subdued performance again go the gauntlet as he did in the original. Davis is an odd actor and though it’s not really meant to be terrifying, there is something really odd about the opening scene in this film as Frank sneaks into the pregnant family’s baby shower and stays weirdly until after the party is over to warn them. Cohen again seems to gives a little more thought than usual to this franchise and it shows in subtlely terrifying scenes like this.
Gone is the visceral pregnancy horror from the original film. This scene is much more focused on the carnage (both mental and physical) inflicted after the baby is born. The original was masterful in the way it addressed complex issues, but while the world is expanded, this is definitely a less cerebral way of addressing the horrors of having children. I’ll be back soon with another look at this IT’S ALIVE COLLECTION with the third and final entry, ISLAND OF THE ALIVE—a truly oddball way to end Cohen’s baby monster series.
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