It's Alive Trilogy: It Lives Again Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Written and directed by Larry Cohen
1978, 91 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on May 15th, 2018
Frederic Forrest as Eugene Scott
Kathleen Lloyd as Jody Scott
John P. Ryan as Frank Davis
John Marley as Mr. Mallory
Andrew Duggan as Dr. Perry
James Dixon as Det. Lt. Perkins
Dennis O’ Flaherty as Dr. Peters
Frank Davis survived his ordeal with a mutant baby and is now on a mission to help future parents of special offspring. He tracks down Eugene and Jody Scott in Tucson, Arizona, and meets them at their baby shower. Frank informs them that local authorities are on a mission to kill the abnormal toddlers but he is working with a team of specialists to protect the children. The Scott child is indeed a monster, but born in a controlled environment in a mobile delivery room. The family is moved to an undisclosed location somewhere in Los Angeles. Theirs is not the only special kid in attendance, as there are two more being studied. Federal agents swarm the building and the parent must quickly relocate to an isolated house in the valley. Their monster baby is not far behind but can our heroes give it what it wants?
Writer/ director Larry Cohen (Full Moon High) is back for a second bite at the apple with this lively follow-up It Lives Again (aka It’s Alive 2). Cohen ditches a lot of the humor found in the original and instead goes for straight horror. He teases the action with a false labor before quickly delivering the goods. He has made enough exploitation pictures to know how to satisfy his audience and is not interested in simply repeating the plot of the first movie. There are several good ideas here, including the introduction of multiple babies. Granted, the little beasties remain largely off camera, but in Cohen’s hands audiences will be keeping a close eye on the screen for any glimpse. The first film focuses on the perils of parenting and the fear of babies where this sequel carries a distinctly pro-life message. Cohen explores both sides of the debate fairly and does so without lecturing.
Frederic Forrest (Apocalypse Now) and Kathleen Lloyd (The Car) star as Eugene and Jody Scott, the new parents with a desire to keep their baby safe. The two share great chemistry, which makes it harder to watch as their marriage crumbles in the second half of the picture. Returning from It’s Alive, actor John P. Ryan (Three o’clock High) delivers another solid performance as mutant baby survivor Frank Davis. His scenes with Forrest are among his strongest and his presence is a welcome addition to bridge the two films. Kathleen Lloyd is sympathetic as the new mother caught in a horrible situation. Her performance is emotional without ever dipping into melodrama. Rounding out the core cast is veteran character actor John Marley (The Godfather) as Federal Agent Mallory, the man pursuing the Scott family. Marley plays his role with ease and is more of an opponent than a villain.
Larry Cohen’s It Lives Again is another quality drive-in movie that knows exactly what kind of story it is telling. Everything is played straight yet the film never takes itself too seriously. The opening act was shot in Arizona, a state more than willing to assist the filmmaker with a stunning on-camera police presence. The number of cops is impressive and certainly adds a level of production value. Bernard Hermann’s score for the original was re-arranged posthumously for the sequel, but remains quite effective. I’m still not afraid of babies, but Cohen is a master of placing viewers firmly within the plot. This is a strong middle chapter in the franchise and was successful enough to merit a third entry.