If you read this site every so often, you might notice that there haven’t been any updates recently. The reason for that is my wife had a baby the second week of June and I haven’t gotten a chance to take a shit without falling asleep, let alone watch and review any movies. Thankfully, I was able to peel myself away for a hour and a half and watch Larry Cohen’s 1974 film “It’s Alive“, which is about what else? A baby that kills people. Sounds like a great movie for a new parent to watch, right?. Let’s examine it a little further, shall we?
It’s Alive follows the Davis family – father Frank, mother Lenore and son Chris. They’re just a regular every day family, and they’re expecting a new addition any day now. The pregnancy goes like any other, and late one night Lenore knows it’s about to happen… This baby is about to be born. The Davis family all pack up in the car and drop little Chris off at uncle Charley’s house for a little while until everyone can come back home after their hospital stay. Once at the hospital, the doctors and nurses are acting a little strange. They won’t tell Frank and Lenore what’s going on, but they both know something is not normal. As Lenore gets wheeled into the delivery room, Frank is left to pace with the other expectant fathers in the waiting room. That’s when the magic happens.
Frank hears screaming from the delivery room. Not the normal screaming you expect to hear when someone’s giving birth, but screams like someone’s being killed. He rushes into the delivery room and sees Lenore on the table, and all the doctors and nurses that were delivering are dead and bloody all around them with scratches and gashes covering their bodies. More medical people rush in and soon the police are there to investigate. At first they think that someone must have come in and abducted the baby, but they soon realize that the baby is the one that did this. It killed all these people straight out of the womb, and it needs to be stopped. On the way home from the hospital, Frank hears on the radio that someone’s leaked the details of this gruesome birth and now he and his family’s name are broadcast across the country. They’re known as the people with the mutant killer baby! He then decides to do what any rational human being would do that’s been put in this situation. He makes it his mission to hunt down and kill this baby. He basically says “I brought you into this world, and now I’m going to take you out!”
From that description, “It’s Alive” sounds like a totally ridiculous concept that would just never work. The craziest thing it, it really does. You and I both know (or at least I hope we know) that this could never happen, but Larry Cohen puts in the work to make this whole idea sound possible. After the family’s name is leaked to the media, they start getting stalked by what I can only describe as the 1970’s version of the paparazzi. He can’t go anywhere without being questioned and harassed about this killer baby.
I also admire that while Cohen could have made this over the top, he didn’t. The movie isn’t just some crazy baby going around killing people. While there’s plenty of that, you don’t really even see the baby that much. I don’t think there’s more than 10 seconds of the thing in the full light of the day in the entire movie. It just stalks it’s prey in the darkness or the high grass and instead of being a gore fest, this movie is genuinely suspenseful. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time waiting to see when this thing would claim it’s next victim and ruin Frank and Lenore’s life even further.
While I expected something that was little more plain insane, It’s Alive was actually a pretty serious movie that was very well done. John P. Ryan does an awesome job as the vigilante father and you actually feel bad for the guy, but at the same time he acts with such blind vengeance against this baby that you start to hate him a little bit at the same time – and that’s what makes him such a great character and amplifies the great performance he’s putting on. You’d almost think Frank would be happy he had such a brilliant and independent baby right out of the birth canal. While absolutely ridiculous most of the time, It’s Alive is a great classic 70’s b-movie that you should check out. I also look forward to seeing the sequels: It Lives Again and It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive. It’s Alive gets 3.5 killer mutant babies out of 5.