Sunday Matinee: It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive

Shout Factory has just released Larry Cohen’s It’s Alive trilogy on blu-ray and it looks fantastic.

I’ve written before about the first It’s Alive about a horribly deformed monster baby being born and then going on a rampage to get home to Mom and Dad. Cohen was a master of low budget horror movies. God Told me To and Q were both fantastic and the original It’s Alive is highly entertaining.

The original had a couple give birth to a horrible mutant baby that slaughters the delivery room doctors and nurses and goes on a rampage. This quickly becomes news and the father Frank Davies (John P. Ryan) loses his job because the bad publicity. Meanwhile a pharmaceutical company that manufactures birth control pills is worried that the creature is a side effect of the drug and wants it destroyed before anyone can make a connection. They bribe the police to make sure that the creature is being hunted down.

Davies helps try to kill his son but at the last moment has a change of heart and wants to try and save his offspring to no avail. The movie ends with reports of another creature being born. The sequel It Lives Again has John P. Ryan returning as Davies but now he’s traveling around the country trying to save the creatures from being exterminated by the government. He helps a couple who are taken to a secret hide out where a couple of scientists have managed to save three of the creatures and are studying them. Naturally things go wrong.

The second film is okay. Once again Cohen keeps the creatures barely visible from the audience hiding the cheap effects. Then there’s the third movie.

Larry Cohen made the third as part of a direct to video deal he made with Warner Bros. The film is weird. Michael Moriarty gives an excellent performance as an actor and father of a more recent creature. He pleads for his son’s life in court and the judge rules that they can’t kill these creatures. Instead (there are five of them) the creatures are exiled to an island away from mankind. After the babies are dropped off on the island a group of men lead by the head of the pharmaceutical company arrive to kill the babies. They are quickly dispatched. Five years later and a doctor along with a couple colleagues, Michael Moriarty and James Dixon who managed to play Lt. Perkins in all three movies go to the island to check on the offspring. There are only four left (one died when the pharmaceutical company attacked.) and the female one has given birth to a new baby. Naturally things go wrong and soon Moriarty is helping guide the creatures back to America.

This is a really weird movie. It moves at an uneven pace and jumps to almost random scenes. Moriarty is acting like he’s almost in a different movie altogether. And once again Cohen hides the creatures keeping them off screen as much as possible. After watching all three movies despite the second film just being okay and the third being – well really weird you really appreciate Larry Cohen’s skill as a director.

Author: Shane Hnetka

Shane Hnetka has spent most of his life watching movies and reading comic books. He has decided to use this vast knowledge for evil instead of good.