Plot: Frank (John P. Ryan) and his wife Lenore (Sharon Farrell) have been patient and careful about a second child, to make sure the situation was ideal to bring a new life into their household. The couple used birth control and vigilant care to ensure no surprises popped up and now, Lenore is about to give birth for the second time, so their plan has worked out as intended. But when the child is born, it is a hideous, disfigured presence that the doctor tries to put of out its misery, only to have the newborn attack and kill the entire room of medical attendants. As the baby continues a murderous path, Frank refuses to believe it could be his child, while Lenore is heartbroken, but still feels connected to her child. But what caused the baby to turn into a violent mutant and how will this blood soaked rampage come to an end?
Entertainment Value: Blending dark humor, ecological panic, and a ridiculous monster, It’s Alive is a fun ride from Larry Cohen, who managed to make a hit out of the movie, despite some studio hurdles. The narrative puts some fresh paint on the Frankenstein lore, but isn’t a beat for beat tribute, as it puts some new elements and retains a distinct feel. The movie has a series tone, but comes off as campy in a lot of the scenes, due to budget limitations and the special effects involved. The baby is silly, but still provides an odd kind of menace and the movie is smart about how it is used and shown, so it is never that outlandish. While It’s Alive isn’t able to live up to Cohen’s ambitious premise, it works a lot better than it should, given the resources involved. But then Cohen’s movies always manage to rise above low budgets and such, so It’s Alive is just example of his skill in that area. John P. Ryan is one reason the movie works so well, as he delivers a serious, powerful lead performance that brings authentic emotion and depth to his role as the child’s father. That kind of sincere, effective effort works wonders for the movie and anchors the entire picture. I think It’s Alive is a fun, tense, and sometimes bizarre movie, one that genre fans should appreciate.
No nakedness. The movie has some violence and bloodshed, but most of the action takes place out of our field of vision. So we see the attack begin, then the carnage occurs off screen and we see the aftermath. Even so, there’s some fun baby attacks to be had here and the blood does flow well at times, even if the violence is rarely shown. The opening scene with the delivery room covered in blood with bodies strewn about is quite a sight to kick off the movie. In addition to the various baby related violence, there’s also some gun based violence, but the wounds are rarely splashy. So not caked in crimson, but some nice bursts of the red stuff here. The dialogue here is overly dramatic, but not that wild or over the top. Ryan’s performance is so sincere, it does veer into camp a little, just barely though. As for craziness, the movie has some b movie vibes and the baby is beyond ridiculous, but overall the tone is serious and aside from some light camp, keeps things on the serious side.
Overall Insanity: 3/10