In the spirit of B movies...
A little while ago I learned the 1974 horror film It's Alive is going to be another in an ever increasing list of remakes being churned out by the Hollywood machine. The original film will always hold a special place in my heart, not because of it being any good (it had been years since I had seen it) but because of a personal connection. After the mega success of the original Exorcist movie It's Alive was re-released in 1977, and this was when my parents went to the theater to go see it. My mother, pregnant with me at time, was so freaked out by the film that she not only left the theater crying but to this day, more than 30 years later, still refuses to see this movie.
When I heard about a remake I knew I had to get reacquainted with the original, to find out if it was any good or not. Our story begins with the Davies', Frank (played by John P. Ryan) and Lenore (Sharon Farrell), your average higher middle class with one pre-teen child and a baby on the way. On the way immediately, as Lenore wakes up Frank to tell him it's time. It's off to the hospital they go, where complications start to arise when the new baby proves to be very large, and soon after that we, along with Frank, see a doctor stumble out of the maternity wing and collapse. Frank makes a bee line for Lenore's room to find out that every one who was in the room during delivery, with the lone exception of Lenore, has been murdered and the newborn is nowhere to be found. The baby has chewed its way through the umbilical cord and escaped. Word gets around quickly as Frank loses his job and has his sights set on finding and killing his demon seed, while the baby begins a trek to make its way home to mommy, daddy and big brother. Along the way it murders random passers by, including an innocent woman who hears the baby crying and a Carnation milk man, avoiding the police at almost every turn.
What's makes It's Alive work is not what we see but rather what we don't see.The gore is at a minimum (all we ever see is blood) and we never actually see the baby kill anybody. In fact, we never really get a great shot of the baby through the entire film as he's usually either obscured or the camera zooms in close to his fangs or whatnot. Subtly, especially in the horror genre, has been long forgotten. Ryan is great as the father on a mission, at first loving family man who morphs into a cold, distant man who is obsessed with killing his mutant offspring.
The film was made on a shoestring budget, but perhaps that's what adds to the ambiance. Another key factor is the actors are not the best looking people in the world...they look like average folks that you can easily relate to. I am going to give It's Alive a high recommendation. I am by no means a fan of the horror genre, but the deliberate pacing and character development make It's Alive a good film by any standard. That is unless you have been weened on modern day horror and need to have everything spelled out and shown to you. If you are one of these people then It's Alive is not for you.