There is nothing more beautiful, rewarding and yet terrifying than having a kid. It is a strange duality of emotions that a new parent experiences when expecting a new child. For the most part, it’s an exciting time met with eagerness and joy. A baby is a wonderful thing that new parents can experience. However, there is a slew of worry and “what if “scenarios’ that can cause any parent a great deal of strife. But then the baby comes and all that worry and fear goes out the door.
But what if your child is something else. What if the spawn of your loins turns out to be a monster? A ravaging creature addicted to blood and terror?
It’s Alive is a 1974 horror film directed by Larry Cohen who brought us other awesome b-rated horror films like 1985’s The Stuff and 1988 Maniac Cop. It stars Sharon Farrell, John P. Ryan, William Wellman Jr. and Andrew Duggan. It did moderately well by critics and today holds a fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But who the hell cares about Rotten Tomatoes? The film has been given two sequels and a remake in 2009.
On a late night, Frank and Lenore Davis happily check themselves into a hospital as Lenore is in labor with their second child. Eager and excited to meet their new bundle of joy Frank is waiting patiently while Lenore undergoes the typical procedures of birth. However, when the baby finally does arrive, all is not like it should. What comes forth is a mutated demon child, hellbent on blood and death! Now it has escaped the hospital and causing chaos wherever it goes.
It’s Alive is an awesome movie that runs in the same vein as 1982’s Basket Case by Frank Henenlotter. It’s a ridiculous premise to a film that requires total acceptance. The prop of the mutant baby is very much like Belial and like Belial you don’t get a clear shot of the baby til the end. It’s total cheese but something makes you appreciate it for it’s simplicity. The idea of a mutated newborn baby feeding on victims and causing havoc is kind tough to accept. But damn, I absolutely love John P. Ryan and Sharon Farrell in this film. Ryan is so believable as the confused and angry new father that you forget the campiness of the effects. Back that up with the badass musical score and it sucks you deeper into the film.
It’s Alive is a creature feature like no other. I think it was a huge risk to make a movie about a killer baby and like The Exorcist released a year before, it pushed the boundaries of social norms. Even today we have a hard time with horror including babies. It’s a touchy subject but one that always gets a huge reaction. Think of the 2004 remake of Dawn of The Dead.
What Makes A Monster
What I love most about the film is a clear message of our society. We experience the turmoil of being a parent caught in the evil actions of our children. Something displayed perfectly from John P. Ryan and Sharon Farrell. We can’t imagine the pain and confusion a parent goes through knowing their child turns out to be a monster. All the hopes and dreams of bringing a new person into this world. What they will become, the moments you dream of like playing catch in the backyard, learning to ride a bike and graduating. To seeing your kids marry and have grandkids. All that is burned away like paper in a fire.
Although the film exaggerates this point with a baby… it does make a great deal of sense and one that is insanely relevant in this current culture. Why do people kill? Why do kids go bad? How can someone go from being a joyous thing to being a monster to us all? Maybe this film speaks volumes to those ideas? We all come out of the womb as open bags that need to be filled. What is put into the bag determines whether or not one is a functioning person to our society. If a child is given love and compassion then they can be a wonderful thing. But given pain and violence, then they become a terror on our society. Maybe that is what this movie is saying. After all, this was released in the seventies. A time when serial killers and cults were wildly active. Maybe the mutant baby represents the chaos and monsters of our own society? Maybe if we started loving each other and respecting each other a little more, then possibly we wouldn’t be at each others throats?
Ehh, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s just a ridiculous film that we’re meant to laugh at but then ponder. Nothing wrong with that. Either way, it’s a great movie and one that I always go back to. So watch It’s Alive and thanks for reading day seven of my Horror Movie Marathon!