Tag Archives: John Ryan

It Lives Again (1978)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Three more monster babies.

As Jody and Eugene (Kathleen Lloyd, Frederic Forrest) hold a baby shower in excited anticipation for their newborn they meet Frank (John Ryan) the father whose wife gave birth to the monster baby in the first film. He warns them that their baby may be the same way and advises them to give birth to it in the back of a semi-truck specially equipped to handle the mutant child. The couple initially resist, but then come into contact with Malory (John Marley) and a police force intent on killing it. Frank manages to get their baby to a secret underground home where two other mutant children are being held under the observation of Dr. Perry (Andrew Duggan) who wants to raise the monster babies and have them multiply in order to create a whole new race of people.

This sequel to the surprise cult hit starts out with potential despite neglecting to explain why these mutant births are occurring. In the first one it was intimated that contraceptive pills were the cause, but here that gets forgotten and never even mentioned. Keeping the babies in an underground facility bogs the action down and eventually turns this into a talky drag and the idea of having three killer babies isn’t all that impressive either as I would’ve imagine that by now, given that four years have passed from when the first story took place, there should’ve been hundreds if not thousands of them.

The film’s biggest drawback though is that we don’t see much of the babies and instead get treated to extended shots of the adults talking while only hearing the baby’s crying in the background, which is boring. If the budget didn’t allow for elaborate special effects, which forced them to keep the footage of the little monsters to a minimum, then this cheesy excuse for a horror film should never have been made at all because what’s the point of watching it otherwise?

Lloyd and Forrest are good, but their characters shift perspectives too quickly. In the first film Frank’s changing opinion of his newborn came about slowly and realistically, but here the parents see-saw from loving the baby one second to wanting to kill it the next. The jump cuts are also an issue, which makes the intended scares  hard to follow and the film’s message is a muddled mess too. The first one had a seemingly a pro-life point-of-view while here those who want to save the babies are portrayed as being fringy lunatics.

Alternate Title: It’s Alive II

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: May 10, 1978

Runtime: 1Hour 31Minutes

Rated R

Director: Larry Cohen

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: DVD, Amazon Video, YouTube

It’s Alive (1974)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Newborn is a monster.

Frank (John Ryan) and Lenore (Sharon Farrell) are excited about the birth of their second child, but during the delivery they find to their horror that the newborn is a freakish monster who kills all the doctors in the delivery room and then escapes out onto the streets. The police try to track it down while Frank initially avows to kill it himself, but when his paternal instincts eventually set in he has second thoughts.

This is for the most part a fascinating, offbeat look at the abortion issue that seems to be a continuing theme with writer/director Larry Cohen who also co-scripted Daddy’s Gone-a-Hunting. In many ways it’s less of a horror film and more of a character study as the main focus is on Frank and the way his feelings on the baby change during the course of the story. In fact it’s Ryan’s intense performance that’s the film’s mainstay and what really propels it.

The baby itself offers intrigue and I liked how his appearance is kept mostly a mystery throughout, which helps build even more fear, but then we never end up getting to see it up close, which is a big letdown. Instead it’s just fleeting long distance shots and even then that doesn’t happen until the very end. The only reason to see a movie like this is to get a genuine look at the thing and when that only gets teased it’s a rip-off.

The baby’s super intelligence had me confused too. Supposedly it’s deformed due to the mother taking some contraceptive pills, but how does this make the child super smart to the point that he is able to find the school that Frank and Lenore’s child goes to, in crowded L.A. of all places and then eventually Frank and Lenore’s house? This thing is just a few days old, so how is it able to read street signs and find places and be ‘pre-programmed’ as it were to know which school/house to go to?

I was also confused at how the baby was able to attack people by biting into their necks. If it’s a crawling baby shouldn’t the feet and ankles of the victim be the place that suffers injury? And how was the baby able to kill all the doctors and nurses in the delivery room? If he was attacking one of them couldn’t the others have ganged up on the little guy and overpowered him or even just ran out of the room and yelled for help or did they all just stupidly stand there as if frozen while the baby jumped onto each Dr. and bit into them one-by-one?

Never getting a clear consistent view of the baby, nor properly explaining what the ‘logic rules’ were was a big turn-off for me when I first saw this decades ago and I came away considering it a Grade-B schlockfeast with little redeeming value. Upon second viewing I’ve softened on it a bit and appreciated Cohen’s efforts especially on such a limited budget, but the screwy loopholes and flimsy effects ultimately hurts it either way.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: April 26, 1974

Runtime: 1Hour 30Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Larry Cohen

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: DVD, Amazon Video, YouTube