It's Alive (1974)
Director: Larry Cohen
John P. Ryan/Frank
Frank (Ryan) and Lenore (Farrel) are about to give their young son a brother. Lenore is on the brink of giving birth. Unos problemos. When she does give birth, the baby murders the whole delivery room team, escapes the hospital and needs to feed. You guessed it, the baby is a bit…what’s the word…mutated. Is he evil? No. Is he dangerous? You bet. A wide city baby hunt is launched by the local police (dumb cops) force and the matter becomes a press nightmare. A pissed off , jobless (he gets fired, poor bastard) Frank takes part in the hunt. He wants to kill the baby beast himself. Let the games begin.
This movie is more than a creature on the loose flick. It’s actually very dramatic, very moving and touches lots of serious issues. Imagine this: Your newborn son is mentally challenged, how do you feel? A feeling of failure, anger, disassociation between you and the baby? Now multiply that by 100 and you get a sense of what the unlucky parents in this film are going through. The movie also dabbles with the issue of pregnancy pills, pollution and deeply explores the differences between a man and a woman, the way we deal with events, the connection we have towards a newborn, our primal instincts. The movie is a bit slow but the human drama is fascinating and the ending brings it home. Now lets crawl out of our cribs and see what's for breakfast…
Most of the kills are offscreen. But we get to see the bloody aftermath. Sadly I must admit that the baby creature looks awful (and we hardly see it), sometimes it’s a midget in a suit, other times a bad puppet. Try to ignore it.
John P Ryan (Frank) gives a strong, multi layered performance. He is good. Like I’m talking "Oscar" good. He blew me out of my seat…so intense…full of burning emotion…wow. Sharon Farrell (Lenore) also lights up the screen, she’s goes through an emotional rollercoaster and we’re right there with her. Both actor’s feed off each other perfectly. They make a great team and both give astounding performances.
T & A
Not about that.
The opening sequence is very strong. Cohen is good at building tension but when he lets go he loses us a bit. The movie is sometimes badly edited and I personally would have cut it tighter. Cohen seems to be asleep in the middle part but he does wake up for the conclusion. The last 20 minutes is full of interesting shots, great use of lighting, shadows and crazy tension.
For the first hour and 10 minutes the score is always the same. It’s very redundant. But for the conclusion we are blessed with a tense, lively piece that blends with the action gracefully.
An uneven movie. The beginning shows great promise, the middle lets you down and the ending wins you over. The actors really make a difference. I can’t emphasize how good they are, they elevate the movie to a higher status. Be patient with this one and in the end you will be rewarded.
This movie is followed by It Lives Again. And It’s Alive 3:Island Of The Alive. Oscar winner effect master "Rick Baker" designed the baby creature (what happened dude? Cut down on the weed).