Saturday, October 18, 2014

MR:Quickies IT'S ALIVE series

It was born three days ago. It has killed seven people. Its parents are human beings.

Whatever it is, IT'S ALIVE and deadly.

Friday the 13th series - Friday the 13th (2009)
Book One (Wildstorm) - Book TwoFriday the 13th (Avatar Press)
Freddy vs Jason
Elm Street series - A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (WildStorm)A Nightmare on Elm Street (Avatar Press)
Halloween series - Halloween (2007) - HII (2009)
Halloween (Chaos! Comics) / NightDance - 30 Years of Terror
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 1 & 2
Chucky series - Curse of Chucky / Chucky (Devil's Due Publishing)
Candyman series
 Re-Animator series
Hatchet 1
Hack/Slash: My First Maniac - Me Without You - Omnibus Vol. 1 - Friday the 31st
Series 1 (DDP)Hack/Slash Meets Zombies Vs Cheerleaders - Series 2 (Image)
Revival Vol. 1 - Vol. 2
Tucker & Dale / Cabin in the Woods
Darkman series
Gremlins - Gremlins 2: The New BatchCritters seriesTremors series
The Faculty / James Gunn's Slither
 Troll 2
The Thing from Another WorldJohn Carpenter's The Thing
John Carpenter's Prince of DarknessJohn Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness
Jacob's LadderJohn Carpenter's The WardEvent Horizon
DeepStar Six / Leviathan / Lords of the Deep / The Evil BelowThe Abyss
Deep Blue Sea

This one here's one of the silliest concepts for a slasher film out there. But it's honestly not that bad. And actually kind of fun, once you get past the idea.

It's Alive! was originally a 1974 horror/slasher film written, directed and produced by horror genre veteran Larry Cohen (who also did the cult films God Told Me To, Q and The Stuff).

The first movie follows a couple that just had a baby. But it turns out the baby is actually really a mutant monster. Be it because of our over-polluted world, a birth accident or a strange dark new step of human evolution. Thing is, it escapes and starts killing people around because it's frightened at first. But really because it just wants to be left alone.

The original film was specially notable for involving a lot of famous names from the genre, such as Bernard Herrmann who composed the musical score on many Alfred Hitchcock films, special effects artist Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London) who did most of the make-up and the puppetry for the film.

The tone of this first film was pretty refreshing at a time horror movies were all about the gore and the shock value. It had a deliberately slow pacing and moody atmosphere, with a tone sort of closer to old Twilight Zone episodes. Closer to those more bizarre and horror episodes. The whole feel of the movie evocated that era and style of story, even the music sounded like it was directly taking some cues from the old serial anthology show.

Then followed two sequels to form Larry Cohen's It's Alive trilogy. While the second went for an actual gory slasher vibe, with more blood and death scenes, the third and finale episode decide to embrace the subtle dark humor of the first for a more tongue-in-cheek approach. Making for a pretty fun over-the-top slasher horror trilogy!

When it's all said and done, they're all silly but fun films.

Those films weren't Larry Cohen's first features, but they helped establish his reputation as a director that loves making these fun creepy low-budget films. Often relying on unexpected dark twists, conflicted protagonists, plenty of silly dark humor and a bit of sympathy towards his monsters.

A cult obscure series revolving around the idea of these murderous mutant babies on a killing rampage!ate. 

Movie title: It's Alive 
Directed by Larry Cohen
Release date 1974
Genre Horror movie

The movie where it all began!

Our story takes place in Los Angeles. A couple, Frank (John Ryan) and Lenore Davis (Sharon Farrell) are about to have their second child.

The man work fir public relations. They weren't planning on having another child. The woman had been using contraceptive pills for years. They leave their other kid at the family to head to the hospital.

But it turns out the baby's a mutant monster! ~

The newborn appears to have some deformation of some sorts. But it might be a lot worse than it really seems.. For one, the baby has fangs and claws! As the shady doctors were about to suffocate the child to hide his condition from the parents, and pass it as an accidental miscarriage, the mutant baby kills the doctor and the nurses! And it escapes! Lenore heard the screams! The parents are afraid to learn the truth! What exactly happened in that bloody hospital wing the creature left behind!?

Frank and Lenore leave hospital, still shaken by the police investigation. But the "baby" is not dead yet. In fact, It's Alive! And it's making its way back to the Davis home, killing people across its path. Even a milkman gets it (Awww, see? It it just wants to eat!)

Scientists are discussing the case. Meanwhile Frank is reminded of the tale of the Frankenstein creature, regretting the turn of events a bit and seeing himself as Dr. Frankenstein, the true monster who was responsible for the creature. An hunting pack is formed to go after the mutant infant. Is this mutant baby a new kind of genetic disease? Perhaps even due to all prescription drugs people use nowadays? They need to destroy this creature so no research can be done on it, which could be traced back to them.

The mutant baby gets back home. Lenore is even happy to see it, whatever it might look like. She hides it in the basement of the house. That is when the other child runs away to go back to the house. Lenore wants to keep the mutant monster baby, hey, it's just a baby! "It" is just scared and frightened! Frank wants to kill it! He finds his other "normal" human son talking to the mutant baby. He's gonna protect it, it's his baby brother afterall! Frank tries shooting it, but hurts his normal son by accident. The mutant baby escapes into the night, killing some more people along the way.

They track it back to the sewers. Frank finally has a change of heart, it's just a scared baby. They should keep him alive, to study him and see exactly what happened to it, not kill it! But the scientist guy screams, the baby jumps at him, and the cops shoot it down...

As everyone go back home, the Davis hear some new calls about new mutant deformed babies being born all over Seattle! They Live Again!

Overall: It's Alive it's a pretty fun if cheesy at times 1974 horror film.

From the start, Larry Cohen knew exactly what he wanted to make with the film. It's a fun strange little B-movie horror film. From a different era, back when it was perfectly acceptable to smoke in hospitals! (And it actually questions the effects how modern life might have on new generations actually.)

As with most of the best horror films, the film contains a few messages Larry Cohen wanted to play with (unlike, say, random generic Hollywood cheap cash-in "horror" films nowadays). Here the film is clearly about pollution and society spiraling out of control from the effects humanity has on the natural order of the world.

The film does raise a few questions for the audience, despite its silly premise. It's also one of these rare instance a horror film plays making people uncomfortable with something natural that is never really much thought about in the entertainment, child birth.

And actually, this made the film be banned in a few places at the time. While it wasn't a big success originally, in fact it was a complete commercial failure, the film went on gaining a big cult followings which would get it a second theatrical re-release (you don't see this kind of stuff anymore these days!). And so three years after its original release, given a whole new marketing campaign, they were finally able to make its budget back and the film won a surprising new succes!

It's a very underrated fun cult movie. With some thought-provocative themes such as abortion, lots of interesting ideas explored in its short runtime, like the parental responsibility, the intolerance in our society to the different and the unknown, environmental pollution, etc. Some would be more explored in the later sequels.

The effects look great, if simple. And that is besides the blurry creature barely seen through most of the film. There's even a fantastic creepy disturbing delivery scene. And despite anything, we kinda feel sorry for it, it is afterall just innocent!

It's a fun Recommended B-movie, able to stand above most similar films at the time thanks to the great performance of the cast, the direction and its original theme. We even get a perfectly-fitting moody musical score, thanks to the fantastic Bernard Herrmann.

The film would go on to receive two more complementary sequels, along a novelization (as most mainstream films did at the times), which expanded upon the film instead of being just your typical tie-in with the film, like detailing the use of fertility drugs and the effects pesticides have on the food people eat.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Movie title: It Lives Again aka It's Alive 2 or also It's Alive II: It Lives Again nowadays
Directed by Larry Cohen
Release date 1978
Genre B-Movie/Slasher horror film

Picking up where the conclusion of the original left us, with monster babies being born at an increasing rate through America.

It Lives Again picks up soon after that, some time later with more monster babies being born now. And continues from there. The movie follows Frank Davis after the death of his child, the mutant baby creature from the first film. Feeling guilty, he has now decided to make the best off it and help other people in the same situation, for what he did in the previous film. Trying to help and assist another couple of parents that have just had a mutant baby of their own. He tries to warn these other parents, we meet Jody and Eugene Scott. As they come home, they find Frank waiting for them there. They read about the story of Frank Davis' monster baby. He wants to protect them before the government tries to kill the creature to erase any traces of their mess they were behind in the first place.

There's this entire conspiracy, the people involved in what caused this rise of deformed mutated babies being born. They're murdering them to hide the fact it was pharmaceutical companies that cause these newborn mutant kids all over the country.

There's this big epidemic of mutant creatures. Frank helps them and takes the child to a place where they already have two more mutant babies hidden. But the bad guys tracks them down and attack them. They go after the babies, but the creatures escape, and start killing all over again...

Overall: The sequel is just as silly but still pretty fun.

It starts off to a pretty good start actually, and this time totally embrace its slasher horror nature. They killer mutant babies are ruthless. (Even if they do come as more innocents and victims of this whole things.)

It's another typically provocative film from Larry Cohen. With great pacing and acting once more. Very enjoyable and just as Recommended for fans of the horror genre and old slashers flicks. A fun low-budget horror film from the 1970s.

This time featuring a more over the top story about this government squad that goes after the mutant infants! Hidden labs where they people are trying to understand these monster children.

It's an original portrait of prejudice in our society. Parental fears. How having a "different" child can affect people, which can itself be seen as an allegory to the anxiety parents get of their child turning "different", off norms, wondering if they might turn out to be "one of them". Which itself can be seen as any number of real-life parallels, as a representation of homosexuality for example. What is being born "normal" or "right".

Frank is a much more likable character this time around. There's also more mutant babies, which wouldn't have been possible or worked in the first film but it is a great idea for this sequel. And we also do get to see them more, there's no need to hide them in the dark and shadows anymore since we know they "exist". And the creatures look great and creepy. They're shown to not only have super strength now but also be a lot more intelligent than we would have thought.

Larry Cohen's having fun explore this world from a fun if simple standalone horror film premise to make another fun movie out of it. maybe even better than original.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Movie title: It's Alive III: Island of the Alive 
Directed by Larry Cohen
Release date 1987
Genre B-movie slasher/horror comedy/adventure

The story takes place a few years after the previous two episodes.

The mutant creatures are being born "faster than they can kill them"...

Some measures have been taken to take care of that. The deformed monster children are now taken somewhere else, living off an island. Placed there by court order, it was decided they would be taken there to be left alone by themselves. It's also a way to set them "free", having them outside human society.

A few of them have actually already reached adulthood by now. A female "Alive" (as the marketing of the film apparently decided to call them now) is about to have a mutant baby of her own, she's bearing a child.

A man feeling responsible for their care doesn't like the cynical way the Alive are regarded and exploited by the media. He decides to mount an expedition to seek them out and help them.

He goes to this desert isolated place, this island. On the way, a few things go wrong... And some people are looking to use this trip for their own objectives...

Overall: It's Alive III: Island of the Alive was still written and directed by Larry Cohen. This 1987 sequels decides to completely embrace the dark humor of the series, and is instead a complete satire of our society and America.

Cohen has always been pretty good and such an underrated film director, always able to turn silly B-movie ideas into something more. And this third It's Alive is no different.

It is also often seen as the weakest entry in the series, since there's a lot more humor this time and the story goes for complete non-sense....

From the original simple modest horror film to this island adventure, it seems kind of a big stretch for the series, even compared to the Evil Dead series.

There's still some social commentary, on abortion and the media (how it manipulates lives). It's still a great fun film but it also seems to try a bit too much with the concept, and kinda goes off-roads.

The film was shot back-to-back with Cohen's A Return to Salem’s Lot, which it shared a lot of locations, props and even actors with. If the first one had some humor to it, the second though had very little humor to it. This one's a funny self-aware film compared to the others. It still has some action, lots of special effects (all these mutant "Alive" things going around) and plenty of gore.

But it feels kind of awkward. Perhaps a bit too much humor that detracts from the overall satirical tone. And it also feels really completely different from the previous two films, like it seem to go in a completely tonally different direction. It still works as an overall trilogy, but I dunno...

The film seem to retreat to the same themes already explored. There's some nice new ideas like the secluded creatures on this island, how they seem to be growing rapidly. For the horror fans, everything's much more graphic than the past two films. There's also some great stop motion work. Though the full-grown adult monsters look a bit strange.

It's fast-paced. More far-fetched than the other films. A lot more campy too. The island setting is nice in itself, but most of the film is actually set taking place while going to the island and not actually on the island itself.

13 years since the last films, Larry Cohen mostly wanted to revisit his mutant babies and see how they had grown up. Only really Give A Look if you're a fan of the previous two films, it's really the weakest entry in the series.

I give this one a: 1.5 / 3 Score!

All in all, it's a pretty entertaining series, easily watchable and recommended for any fans of the horror/slasher genre really.

Try it, chances are you'll find yourself really enjoying the films and their twisted sense of humor.

The concept behind the series is really out there, but it isn't frankly that bad when you come down to it to be honest.

For years Larry Cohen had been interested in rebooting the series or remaking the original film. But everyone seemed to have forgotten the series and big studios weren't interested in the pitch anymore.

Suddenly, It's Alive was finally remade in 2008... without his consent or participation! But that is the story for another review...

That's all for this time's Quickies!

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