It’s Alive! (1969)

IT’S ALIVE! (1969)
Article 3228 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-20-2010
Posting Date: 6-16-2010
Directed by Larry Buchanan
Featuring Tommy Kirk, Shirley Bonne, Bill Thurman
Country: USA
What it is: Horror in Buchananland

Two vacationers get lost in the backwoods of the Ozarks and encounter a man who maintains a makeshift zoo. He locks the vacationers (along with a visiting paleontologist) in a cavern in the hopes they will serve as food for a prehistoric monster dwelling there.

Larry Buchanan’s best fantastically-themed movie? Well, I wouldn’t go that far; there’s something that just doesn’t sit right with me to put “Larry Buchanan” and the word “best” in the same sentence. It is, however, one of the rare times that I do have something good to say about one of his movies, and that is that the performance of Buchanan regular Bill Thurman is rather effective; he does a decent job of portraying a character that seems friendly on the surface but turns out to be an abusive madman underneath. Granted, his performance is uneven; it falters whenever he’s required to maniacally overact. The movie also has the advantage of not being a remake of a better AIP movie, so you can’t compare it to a better version of the story; still, this was because the script was not pursued at the time. Thurman’s performance aside, however, the movie is a stinker, with too many dull stretches and a particularly ill-conceived monster. The latter uses the same outfit that Buchanan used for CREATURE OF DESTRUCTION; it was a lousy monster suit to begin with, but at least in that movie it made a little sense. Here, it’s supposed to be a giant dinosaur, but it never once conveys any sense of real size, and it looks not the least bit dinosaurish. Still, the movie does make me want to see the movie AIP had originally planned to make with the script; it would have featured Elsa Lanchester and Peter Lorre. I’m assuming Lorre would have had the Thurman role, and I would love to see what he would have done with it; furthermore, he would have made the maniacal overacting scenes a lot more fun.

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