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.


Video and Audio:

All three films have received a new 2K scan of the original film elements and the results are pretty spectacular. Each movie is presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and all are free from dirt and debris. Colors are muted but deliberately so and black levels are bottomless. There is plenty of small-object detail found in hair and fabrics.

A DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio track preserves the original recordings and all three are up to the challenge. The trilogy sounds terrific with strong music cues and easily understandable dialogue.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.


Special Features:

Scream Factory’s highly anticipated box set comes loaded with goodies that will put your old DVD copies to shame. Classic features are joined by some all-new supplements and fans will definitely be pleased.

Each film receives a lively audio commentary from Larry Cohen, who holds his own without a moderator – until part three. In the first two films there are only a few gaps of silence, as he is quick with an anecdote or detail from the production. He covers a lot of ground in these tracks, including his approach to writing, how he works with actors and assorted bits of information about events on both sides of the camera. Part three suffers from a few extended gaps of silence but remains fairly informative when he actually does speak. These commentaries were recorded for the 2004 DVD release but hold up well.

In the new featurette Cohen’s “Alive”! (18 minutes), Larry Cohen is joined by cinematographer Daniel Pearl, producer Paul Kurta, actors James Dixon, Michael Moriarty and Laurene Landon. They discuss the origins of the project, working with Cohen and how they approached the material. This is a well-made segment that tells a solid story.

It’s Alive at the Nuart: The 40th Anniversary Screening (13 minutes) features Cohen holding court in a Q&A before an audience screening in California.

Make-up artist Steve Neill discusses his work on Island of the Alive and how Rick Baker helped start his career. He talks about working with Larry Cohen on a budget with a fast schedule.

Each film receives a still gallery filled with promotional and behind-the-scenes images.

Trailers for the series appear on their respective discs. There are also a series of TV spots and radio ads.



Movie: Cover
Overall: 3.5 Star Rating

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Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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