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It’s Alive! Review

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Frank Davies takes his wife into hospital to have their second child. The baby, a super-strong fanged mutant, slaughters the delivery team and escapes. The Los Angeles authorities track the creature, while the shattered parents try to come to terms with their situation.

★★★★

‘There’s only one thing wrong with the Davies baby,’ read the posters, ‘It’s Alive!’. The best mutant killer baby movie ever made, Larry Cohen’s horror thriller is at once a great suspense/monster film and a darkly comic soap opera about strained parent-child relationships.

Taking its title from Colin Clive’s declaration in Frankenstein, the film plays havoc with traditional ideas about an infant’s place in society as ‘the Davies baby’ rampages through a darkened kindergarten or bloodily slaughters the milkman.

It winds up, like the 1950s giant ant epic Them!, in the Los Angeles storm drains as hordes of gun-toting cops round on the barely-glimpsed, Rick Baker-created baby monster.

Writer-director Cohen’s strong suit is combining outrageous science fiction ideas with credible, unnconventional character scenes. Perennial supporting thug John P. Ryan has a rare lead role as the bewildered Mr Davies, a public relations man who loses his job because he has fathered a monster, and superbly plays an unusual arc from revulsion to near-devotion. With an eerie Bernard Herrmann score, one great joke scare involving a soft toy that falls into frame at the worst possible moment and good supporting work from character actors Andrew Duggan, James Dixon, Guy Stockwell and Michael Ansara. Cohen has made two sequels, both with their own interesting angles: It Lives Again, in which Ryan leads a pressure group for the parents of monsters, and It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive, in which Michael Moriarty has a reunion with his grown-up monster son.

Compelling 1970s take on the monster horror genre which remains fresh and hugely watchable.

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