JUNE 15, 2008
I can’t recall when I bought It’s Alive. It’s one of those movies that I ‘discover’ when looking at my collection, coming across it and saying to myself (or out loud) “What the hell? When did I get this? Oh well, let’s watch it!”. Evidence points to it being purchased at Best Buy (the Best Buy price tag being the biggest clue), and it was recommended in February by an HMAD reader named Brian, but as for when I actually – HOLY FUCK I TALKED TO JOHN CARPENTER LAST NIGHT!!!
OK, I was going to include my bloggy thoughts about it in this review, but since they are so long I just made an actual blog entry on my Bloody Disgusting page. Check it out HERE and then come back for the usual movie ramble.
Anyone who knows me, and no one does, knows that I love killer kid movies. Bloody Birthday, Cathy’s Curse... hell even Good Son is pretty awesome, even though he doesn’t kill anyone. So a killer BABY is even more enticing, because, well, it’s a baby.
However, despite being made by Larry Cohen, it’s actually a pretty serious movie. I mean, yeah, it’s a silly concept, but it’s played very straight. As my good friend Matt pointed out, it’s a horror movie for adults, not teens (indeed, other than the baby and the main character’s son, no one in the film is younger than 35 or so), and it’s true. It would have been easy to simply have the baby go on a rampage and kill necking teens and the occasional drunk/homeless guy in the woods, a la most monster movies, but instead we actually get a lot of stuff with the parents, who are clearly (and understandably) disturbed about birthing an actual monster. Mom goes a bit nuts and wants to raise the child, Dad wants to get rid of it (some shades of abortion here, but nothing too obtrusive), feeling responsible for the deaths it has caused.
But that’s not to say it’s all frowns and melodrama. I got quite a few laughs out of it, mainly because everyone in the movie is so blunt. At one point, the dad’s boss tells him “Hey you know Ted in accounting? He’s got a retarded kid!” in an attempt to cheer him up. There’s also some nice black humor – a (non monstrous) baby is at one point surrounded by gun-toting cops who are hunting the monster baby. Cohen is brilliant here, as you fully believe that these cops will actually shoot the tyke (aided by a sudden cut to black that lasts 10 seconds – as if we might just hear the shot). Great stuff.
My only real issue was a strangely coincidental one. The baby is making its way back to its family’s home, and thus I assumed the climax would be entirely housebound. It certainly seems that way, but then the thing escapes and a chase ensues. The monster is chased to the sewers, and that is where the final battle really occurs. I had this same problem with the movie Them (Ils) – they leave the house (scary) to the sewers (not). But here’s the weird thing – the sewers in question here are in fact the ones connected to the giant LA river dam thing that you’ve seen in many movies, like Grease, Escape From New York, and... Them!, the giant ant movie from the 50s. Cohen, being a guy who knows his sci-fi/horror, probably did this intentionally as an homage to that film, but the idea that It’s Alive has elements from two entirely different movies with the same title, in a single sequence, is pretty odd. At least to me.
The DVD has a commentary by Cohen. Like The Stuff, it’s not the best track, but there’s some nice info here and there (and a few too many silent gaps), including some funny stories about the film’s composer, Bernard Herrmann. Cohen also manages to take credit for the POV shots in Jaws, which I’d be more inclined to believe if I didn’t know that this film was released in the fall of 1974, after Jaws had finished principal photography. But hey, who’s to know for sure?
Well, probably lots of people. But so what, it’s a good movie. Watch it, you might have it in your collection as well!
What say you?