With the recent passing of genre giant Larry Cohen, this week's title is his first horror film, 1974's It's Alive.
The birth of the Davies' second child brings them nothing but pain and suffering when it turns out to be murdering mutant. And it's loose in Los Angeles!
Had to spring for VOD on this one, as I do not own the VHS sadly. It's Alive was another title I thought I'd seen as a kid, but realized pretty early on that was not the case. I guess my memory of the baby's POV tearing through an operating room must have been from one of the sequels. No matter.
I could certainly see that this was Cohen's earliest foray into horror as it possessed a more deliberate pace than his later efforts. The ones I grew up with, specifically Q & The Stuff, have more grandeur and larger scope. When looking at his work as a whole, you can see his progression as a filmmaker.
|Sharon Farrell & John P. Ryan in It's Alive.|
Now, that's not to say there isn't a shitload of personality in this movie. John P. Ryan (who always played the villain in the movies of my youth like Avenging Force and Class of 1999) had some terrific moments, including some odd banter with a Scottish nurse and his choice to smoke & chew gum at the same time. How? Why? And don't even get me started on the cops.
It's Alive existed in a weird universe that seemed to over-react to the situation at hand. A mutant baby escaped from the hospital and somehow it's the parent's fault, as the father lost his job and the mother was loaded up with pills. Even the press seemed to be on their back, naming the couple in the news before the blood was even dry.
I did like how the creature itself was handled. It was a gradual reveal, using shadow and blurred lenses to start, and even some body suit work in its most effective moments. The puppetry was obviously more rudimentary than what we'd get from gore guru Rick Baker in the decades to come, but the sound design made up for it in spades. Throw in a solid score from legend Bernard Herrmann and you've got an inherently watchable flick, if maybe not as colourful as Cohen's later collaborations with Michael Moriarty.
Also, now that I've read that the baby was modelled after the Starchild in Stanley Kubrick's 2001, that's all I can fucking see now!