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It's Alive
It's Alive
Actors: John P. Ryan, Sharon Farrell, James Dixon, William Wellman Jr., Shamus Locke
Director: Larry Cohen
Genres: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Special Interests
PG     2004     1hr 31min

A couple expecting a baby discover it's a monster that kills when it's scared.DVD Features: — Audio Commentary:Commentary by Writer/Director Larry Cohen — Theatrical Trailer:Trailers of this and the sequels "It Lives Again" ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: John P. Ryan, Sharon Farrell, James Dixon, William Wellman Jr., Shamus Locke
Director: Larry Cohen
Creators: Fenton Hamilton, Larry Cohen, Peter Honess, Janelle Webb, Peter Sabiston
Genres: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Special Interests
Sub-Genres: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Special Interests
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/05/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 31min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

It's newborn. It's alive. And murder is what it knows best.
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 10/28/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"We're pushed (or dragged) from our mothers' wombs kicking, screaming, disorientated, all misshaped, covered in viscous goo, and just generally unhappy, but it's not surprising, as the world can be a cold, harsh place, unlike that from hence we came. Let's face it, once the cord is cut, you're out there, for better or usually things settle after the birth, as babies settle into a regular routine of sleeping, crying, drooling, eating, and messing their pants, allowing for those that brought them into this world to take care of all their needs, as they're are totally helpless and completely dependant on the kindness of others...right? That's pretty much what I thought, and so did Mr. And Mrs. Davis...but we were both very wrong...

It's Alive (1974), not to be confused with the dreadful 1969 Larry Buchanan made for TV movie of the same name, was written and directed by the extremely multi-faceted schlock auteur Larry Cohen, who's had some recent successes with stories produced into the films Phone Booth (2002), Cellular (2004), and Captivity, scheduled for 2004, but will probably see a release in '05. It's Alive stars John P. Ryan (Class of 1999) and Sharon Farrell (Night of the Comet). Also appearing is William Wellman Jr. (The Puppet Masters), James Dixon (Q: The Winged Serpent), and Andrew Duggan (Bone).

Frank (Ryan) and Lenore (Farrell) Davis are expecting a baby...and now it's hospital time as the birth is nearing. Things appear normal, but difficulties arise as the doctor estimates the bambino a whopping 11 pounds (ouch!)...what they don't know (at least until it's born), is that, not only is this one big baby, but it has some unusual features, like extended fangs, claws, and a humongoid head, along with the creepiest eyes I've seen this side of Bette Davis. Oh yeah, it also possesses a thirst for flesh and is extremely mobile, which is evident as it kills all those within the delivery room (except Lenore) in short order and then runs off (what a lil' rascal), escaping by breaking through a skylight, leaving no witnesses and everyone wondering just what the heck happened (Lenore is no help, claiming she was out of it the whole time). The answers do not come quickly, but the bodies sure do, as brutally mutated victims begin popping up in the surrounding community and the Davis' gain unwanted notoriety as the couple that spawned a killer freak. The police soon begin a manhunt (or, infanthunt, to be more accurate...well, to be completely accurate, I'd call it a freakymonsterbabyhunt, but that's a mouthful), as no one knows where the terrifying tot will strike next, or what its' motivations least those past its' seemingly insatiable hunger...for HUMAN FLESH!

It's Alive is probably one of the best exploitation films I've seen come from the 70's. It's listed as a horror film, but viewers expecting over-the-top gore will be sorely disappointed. Instead, what Larry Cohen brings forth is a sort of realistic drama/thriller, one that features a freakish, mutant cannibal easy feat, I'll tell you what. As with his 1982 film Q (it's about a giant winged serpent terrorizing New York), the characters presented are infused with a perceived sense of realism, like these are people you might or could know, people who actually reside in the same world as you. Sure, there's that completely unrealistic element of the hideous mutant cannibal baby, but when the two are combined, Cohen creates a story that almost exists beyond the screen, and will causes the hair on the back of your neck to continue standing long after the movie is over. Some will feel the pacing is too slow, extended periods where nothing happens, but I felt this was deliberate, as to not only allow for the tension to build, but also to focus on the development of the characters, the main ones, finding themselves having to deal with this completely unique and terrifying experience, along with incorporating various other aspects involving local law enforcement, the medical establishment, and the pharmaceutical industry (it's thought maybe the child was a result of long term usage of a certain medication) and their own, particular views and opinions of the situation. I thought John P. Ryan was really good as the distraught father, living in denial. His character actually scared me almost more than the creature, as he appeared to me as a pot always on the verge of boiling over, or a taught piece of twine near its' snapping point. He's got serious anger management issues (don't tell him I said that). I also thought Sharon Farrell did well, the mother suffering from a sort of post-partum depression of not only the birth, but of her now on-the-lam child, filling her time with meaningless tasks avoiding the horror of her birthing of a mutant, but also the very real possibility that it will soon be dispatched by local law enforcement, or her husband, as his abject rejection of the abomination along with his anger management issues forces him to take matters into his own hands. One thing you'll notice about Cohen films is they often look like they're made on a low budget, but I think, while he may not have the money of others, he makes the most of what he has, often filming on location, adding to the overall sense of reality...think Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973) or Frank Henenlotter's Basket Case (1982)...and the musical scoring by the legendary Bernard Herrmann adds so much. The effects aren't great, but they are notable as an early work of special effects master Rick Baker.

I thought the widescreen picture looked pretty good here (much better than the VHS copy I had), although I thought the audio a bit soft. Special features include a commentary track by Larry Cohen and a trailer for this film along with the sequels, It Lives Again (1978) and It's Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987), both also available on DVD.

A suprisingly sedate and human monster-baby movie
General Zombie | the West | 03/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I gotta say I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. The relatively mixed reviews did a good job of lowering my expectations. What I realize now, which I hadn't then, is that 'It's Alive' is a film that is prominent enough and strange enough that it's more likely to draw the attention of non-horror buffs. So when I hear this being accused of being cheap and incompetent, what I'm thinking is a lot different from what the writer likely is. Sure, this film is cheap, but as far as low-budget 70's horror goes this is fairly sharp and professional, and stands alongside most of the 'Classic' films of the era fairly nicely. (And it is, technically, definitely a cut above a few of them, such as 'The Last House on the Left' and 'Shivers'.) It's an odd film though, in execution, in that it takes an extremely odd, outrageous premise and creates a relatively uneventful, low-key film. If you're looking to see a film with a whole lotta baby combat you're probably gonna be disappointed. It's got some of that, no doubt, but the film is more interested in the infant's family. Of all the 70's cult horror films I've seen, `It's Alive' is unquestionably the one that is most interested in the people in the film. Needless to say, that isn't going to be to everyone's taste, but it worked for me.

Technically this film is competent, though it does have a few particularly rough edits. The acting isn't great, but it's perhaps above average for this sorta film, with out a single stunningly bad performance. Special note goes to John Ryan as Frank Davis. His stoicism could be interpreted as simply wooden acting, but however you take it it fits the role well enough. Again, the film is mostly about how the baby's rampage effects him, so you need to like and be interested in the guy, and I was. He's just got a good, sad face that naturally fits the emotions of the film. The score is by Bernard Hermann, so you get something that is quite a bit more lush and dramatic then you'd usually find in cult horror. The oft-repetitious score occasionally gets on my nerves, but it's works alright in general and gives the whole thing an added air of class and professionalism.

Shots of the baby are wisely kept to a minimum, and the thing looks alright. Better than I would've thought. The baby murder scenes are competently done as well, with some amusing baby-cam. The film isn't scary, but it manages to be fairly serious, far moreso than I would've imagined. The murder of the milkman is especially well done, as is the aftermath of the infants opening rampage. Despite the premise I never laughed at the movie, which is an impressive feat, and intentional humor is kept to a minimum, which is nice as it would be very tempting to turn such a film into a horror-comedy. It does have *some* humor in it, yes, but not a ton, and certainly not enough to move into horror-comedy territory.

The film is pretty slow, I'll admit, but I was interested enough in what was going on with the Davis family that I didn't mind, and it all comes to a fairly effective climax. The later scenes, where the baby returns to the Davis house and Frank searches all around for it are surprisingly tense, and the final confrontation out in the city is, yes, touching. More than a few movies out there have tried to make you sympathize with the monster, but none does a better job than 'It's Alive'.

I must also note that the box art is awesome. I remember seeing that in the video store as a little kid, and it is indelibly imprinted on my mind. (Same goes for the 'Deepstar Six' box. I gotta see that movie someday, though I assume that it sucks.) It's also got perhaps the most awesome tagline ever: 'There's only one thing wrong with the Davis baby... It's Alive!'. Sweet.

Grade: B"
It's a B-Movie Classic!
Robert J. Schneider | Tacoma, WA USA | 04/11/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Larry Cohen has always had fun making no-frills, slightly creepy "B" Horror movies. As a result, his films tend to be non-cerebral, quirky, violent, cheesy-looking, infectiously funny, and, most of all, fun. It is in this spirit of fun that I write this review for one of Cohen's most memorable and fun films, IT'S ALIVE! (1974).The plot is simple: a relatively normal (though slightly quirky) middle-aged couple with an 11-year-old son, who decided to have one more child, is going through what is obviously a prolonged, painful pregnancy for the expectant soon-to-be-second-time-mother. The Davis family, consisting of Frank (John P. Ryan), Lenore (Sharon Farrell) and Chris (Daniel Holzman) just want to get through it, already. Lenore finally goes into labor one night, and the whole family drives to the hospital, during which time Frank tries to lighten the mood with a little humor. During the interminable wait in the hospital lobby, Frank overhears two men discussing something about the toxins being released into the environment and how scientists are warning of the possible mutations this could cause for humans. Suddenly, a badly wounded doctor comes stumbling out of the O/R and drops dead on the hallway floor. Frank and the others run into the room to find a scene of sheer horror: five doctors and nurses dead, their throats all torn and bloody. As they stare in shock and amazement, Lenore (who is uninjured) delivers the chilling news: she gave birth to a newborn baby monster. As Frank and the police try to find the Davis' mutated son, who had escaped the hospital through a ventilation shaft, Baby Davis tries to find his way home by himself, dispatching several unaware victims in the process. Frank is torn amongst his feelings of protectiveness for his son, of the sense of duty to snuff out this newborn killer's life, and anger at those he feels are overly anxious to kill him.I have rented this film and seen it on three separate occasions (all on VHS, of course; unfortunately, Warner Brothers has not yet seen fit to issue it on DVD) and it gives me something new to focus on each time. The first time, it was the visceral violence of the film (it is quite bloody); the second time, it was the sheer campiness of the whole thing. The third time, it was the emotional suffering of Frank Davis, as he tries to simultaneously make sense of the situation, figure out what his newborn monstrosity will do next, and to make it right. Although all of the acting in the film is effective and dependable, none stands out more than John P. Ryan. I love his goofiness at the beginning of the film as he's talking to his "young whipperschnapper" son in a comic Humphrey Bogart-meets-Edward G. Robinson voice. I like the effectiveness of the quiet, tense scene that takes place right after the horrible slaying in the hospital, in which the police try to dance lightly around Frank as they begin to ask him uncomfortable questions at this very awkward time. Frank's foot-shifting, equally uncomfortable responses and increasing agitations hit just the right note, and are a subtle example of great Method Acting. Finally, I like the heartbreakingly somberness of the climactic, and inevitable, final scene.The PG-rating for IT'S ALIVE! remains something of a deceptive mystery; it IS quite bloody, although there isn't much in the way of graphic gore. Still, this got rather strong ratings abroad: According to IMDb, it received a "15" rating in Sweden, an "18" rating in both the U.K. and The Netherlands (the numbers referring to the age at/above to which the film's viewership was restricted), an "R" rating in Australia, and in Finland, it was banned!I know it's cheesy, I know that you hardly see the monster baby (which, given the lack of special effects, was probably a good thing and even added to the suspense), and I know that future multiple-Oscar-winning makeup genius Rick Baker was basically beginning to learn his craft here; the fact is, I find it impossible not to like IT'S ALIVE! If you love those late-night creepy old movies, then you know you will like this too. You've got to admit, you like this kind of stuff--and director Larry Cohen sure makes it fun to watch!RECOMMENDED
Funny, Ferocious Fun!
Jesse Watts | fl | 08/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"" It's Alive " is a part of a horror series directed by Larry Cohen, the sequels are " It Lives Again " and " It's Alive III : Island Of The Alive. " But before we get to those sequels, let's talk about this cult classic, of baby-time carnage!!I absolutely love this movie and its sequels, I once watched, I believe all three films on Monstervision, hosted by Joe Bob Briggs. It was ofcourse during the nightly hours. I was just captured and must say these flicks are certainly some of the great mid-night horror marathon movies. I don't give a damn how long ago they came out, these are cheese-ball, absolutely hilarious classics! The humour is, intentional or not, abundantly apart of the fun. This first one picks up with a normal man and his wife who have a baby, who turns out to be a monster baby. The man is John P. Ryan, and his wife, Sharon Farrell, two marvelous actors in this movie. The supporting cast is there too. The Rick Baker babies may look cheesy, but its all apart of the fun. Some of the funnest moments come when the baby is running amock, attacking, milk men, and all sorts of prey. Also the score, by Bernard Herrmann (Psycho) is perfect, absolutely perfect. His last score by the way before his death was " It Lives Again, " the remarkable sequel, which is even better, and keep a look out for the third picture too, not as good as 1 & 2, but still just a great fun time."