The other day during the Movie Trivia Schmoedown Singles Tournament match between William “The Beast” Bibbiani and the Barbarian, one of the questions in round two was centered around the movie It’s Alive. It was a movie that I had never heard of before, but host Mark Ellis said a couple of times that It’s Alive was a “great movie” and Bibbiani added that the director Larry Cohen was a “genius” and “underappreciated in his time.”
Since it is almost October and the annual Halloween/Horror Binge-a-thon was coming up, I decided that I would start off the month a tad early and watch the movie that two awesome people recommended.
In It’s Alive, the pregnant Lenore Davis (Sharon Farrell) wakes up in bed and tells her husband Frank Davis (John Ryan) that it was time to have the baby. These two were clearly veterans of this because they were remarkably calm and downright nonchalant about this. They slowly got dressed, woke up their son Chris (Daniel Holzman), dropped Chris off with friend Charley (William Wellman Jr.) before strolling peacefully to the hospital.
That would be the final moments of peacefulness the couple would encounter. Almost as soon as Lenore arrived in the delivery room, she began saying things like “this feels different” and the “something was wrong” but no one seemed to be concerned with her proclamations.
The doctors surely would regret that oversight. As soon as the oversized mutant baby was born, it became violent and viciously murdered the room full of doctors and nurses, escaping from the hospital.
The movie wisely kept the viewing of the mutant child to a minimum, with only quick flashes and darkened shots. The imagery of the child could have easily flatlined this production with its look had the creators not used the horror genre tope of the unknown being more frightening.
As it is, this movie is clearly a B-movie that has developed a cult status, but there are several prominent aspects of It’s Alive that make it a worthwhile watch. The whole idea of “Frankenstein/Doctor Frankenstein” debate that Frank has with himself in the film is fascinating. There was also a family dynamic that was included that spoke to loving a family member despite its appearance or its behavior. It took Frank a while to discover that, but he does eventually.
The film speculates that the baby’s mutation came from birth control pills that Lenore had been taking for years and an argument could be made that the movie’s hidden message is about abortion.
I found this to be fun, silly and an exciting monster movie. I might not go as far as Mark Ellis did, but I am glad it started off the Halloween Horror Binge for 2020 (which actually, come to think of it, is an oxymoron).