It’s Alive

It’s Alive

John Ryan and Sharon Farrell as a couple that welcome a bouncing baby boy into the world.  Unfortunately for them, Farrell took a load of questionably safe pregnancy pills, and the progeny comes bursting into the world as a genetic mutant, complete with fangs and razor-sharp claws.  Baby monster goes on the crawl, ripping out throats left and right, as Ryan vacillates between wanting to kill his offspring and protect it from predatory scientists who wish to study it.

It’s Alive is an early-70’s horror cult classic, moderately controversial upon initial release, and played completely straight, without a hint of irony or camp humor.  Writer-director Larry Cohen does a decent job of building both suspense and legitimate sympathy for the shell-shocked parents, played effectively by Ryan and Farrell.  Cohen also makes the wise decision to the keep the baby–a surprisingly wicked creation by future Oscar winner Rick Baker–largely out of frame until the end of the film.  It’s Alive is about five times better than I expected it to be, due in large part to Cohen telling the story dead-pan serious and the solid cast.  In the end, the film could have been a colossal disaster, so this was a nice surprise.

1974; starring John Ryan, Sharon Farrell; directed by Larry Cohen; 91 min; R; in English.