Written & Directed by Larry Cohen
Frank Davis...John P. Ryan
Lenore Davis...Sharon Farrell
Lieutenant Perkins...James Dixon
Three words: Larry Fuckin' Cohen.
Frank Davis is awakened in the wee hours of the morning to find that his wife Lenore--who is very, very pregnant--is going into labor. After more than their fair share of dilly-dallying around the house, they head to the hospital where Lenore is fussed over by nurses and doctors, and Frank hangs around in the waiting room with all the other expecting fathers.
Ah, the good old days. Back when men were men, women birthed alone, and it was perfectly acceptable to smoke in hospitals!
The film takes its time here, which is fine, because this is where Mr. Cohen allows us to get to know Frank Davis. He's a well-dressed man, prideful, and perhaps a bit arrogant--he's in P.R., so that makes a bit of sense--but he has a lot of love for his wife, his young son Chris, and even for his unborn child.
But suddenly something goes terribly awry. Lenore knows that something is wrong with the child, despite the doctor's insistence that it's fine albeit gigantic! And with helpful advice like "Don't push, just pant!", the delivery is over before you know it. And, just like when Baby Jonny was deposited upon this earth, the newborn quickly kills all of the medical professionals in the room, shimmies up the stairs, breaks through a skylight on the third floor, and disappears into the night.
It seems 'gigantic' isn't the only term that could be correctly used to describe this child. Mutant; Aberration; Crime Against Humanity; An Affront to God; Those are all very suitable as well. Frightened and alone, the dangerous Davies boy cuts a path through the city, leaving a trail of dead in its wake...all because he wants to find his way home.
You know, kind of like Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, but with less fur and more bloodshed.
This movie has a bit of a cult following, and with good reason. As noted above, Larry Fuckin' Cohen! Which is to say nothing of Bernard Shittin' Hermann and Rick Dammit Baker! If that's not an Unholy Triumvirate, then I don't know what is! Plus, we've all seen literally dozens of movies that feature killer kids; but how many movies have you seen about killer babies? And newborns at that! I'm willing to bet, even with the sequels and the remake, it's still in the single digits.
This film does, admittedly, move a bit slowly at times, and it's not going to be for everyone. The grue is extremely subdued, mostly limited to a brush stroke of dried blood on someone's neck. And, although this movie was released theatrically (TWICE!), it almost feels like a Made-for-TV movie. Granted, a good Made-for-TV movie, but still. And there is perhaps a reason for that.
Despite the subject matter, and despite the fact that It's Alive was literally banned in some countries, it was only given a PG rating. PG!? That's what E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial was rated! Maybe Larry Cohen had a good hard think between the years of 1974 and 1978, or maybe the rating process had simply gotten stricter.
Regardless, Part II and Part III were both rated R.
As it should be, people!
It's Alive is currently ranked #38,064 in DVD's at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!
"Hunting and killing babies doesn't seem to be my specialty."