It's Alive Trilogy: It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Written and directed by Larry Cohen
1987, 95 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on May 15th, 2018
Michael Moriarty as Stephen Jarvis
Karen Black as Ellen Jarvis
Laurene Landon as Sally
James Dixon as Lt. Perkins
Gerrit Graham as Ralston
Macdonald Carey as Judge Watson
Neal Israel as Dr. Brewster
William Watson as Cabot
It has been a few years, but the wave of mutant babies seems to be subsiding. The remaining infants are sent to an uncharted island by court order where they will live without human interference. Five years later, an expedition to the island is underway to see how things have turned out. Steven Jarvis, father to one of the infants, joins a team of scientists trying to locate the inhabitants. The team is ambushed and Steven survives only to be captured by the monsters and forced to sail them back to Florida. What do the creatures want with him and why have they chosen this destination? Steven needs to be cautious if he intends to live long enough to find out.
Writer/ director Larry Cohen (The Stuff) is back at the helm of the concluding chapter of the It’s Alive trilogy with It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive. The script covers a lot of ground and this time around the babies are allowed to grow up and reproduce on their own. In the nine years between parts two and three, Cohen has come up with a lot of ideas on where to take this franchise, but ultimately he has trouble maintaining focus. He changes tone from horror to broad comedy with a touch of melodrama thrown in for good measure, but the results are not very satisfying.
Michael Moriarty (Troll) does all the heavy lifting as the demented Stephen Jarvis, whose life and marriage are destroyed by the birth of the monster. Over the ensuing years, he has become a bit of a lunatic but has little trouble forming a telepathic bond with the mutant babies. Karen Black (Trilogy of Terror) doesn’t have a lot to do here as Stephen’s ex-wife Ellen, a woman hiding from her infamous past. She attracts a bunch of losers at the bar where she works in Florida and refuses to give Stephen a second chance. By the end of the picture, the babies have tracked her down with a special request that will help the couple reunite. Supporting players include Macdonald Carey (Shadow of a Doubt) and Gerrit Graham (Phantom of the Paradise) as a judge and cocky prosecutor respectively.
Island of the Alive tries to be a lot of things but ultimately buckles under the strain. Neither funny nor scary, the picture simply moves along from scene to scene without building from one sequence to the next. By the time this sequel came along, make-up legend Rick Baker had moved on, but his baby design is featured via a series of stop-motion animation shots, while a new design is used for the goofier adult counterparts played by men in rubber suits. This entry proved to be the final installment in the franchise until the 2008 It’s Alive remake.
Larry Cohen is a master storyteller and quite a filmmaker, as he has repeatedly proven for the past fifty years. Not all of his films hit the mark, but he constantly tries to satisfy his audience. The It’s Alive trilogy tells a broad story when viewed back to back and I don’t think anyone but Cohen could put so many strong ideas into a high-concept killer baby picture.