IT’S ALIVE (1974)
Article 4876 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Larry Cohen
Featuring John P. Ryan, Sharon Farrell, James Dixon
What it is: Mutant killer baby movie
A mutant killer baby is born and terrorizes a town.
The idea of a mutant killer baby is one of those concepts that seems so outlandish that I’m a little surprised that they didn’t go the obvious route and play it for laughs. But writer/producer/director Larry Cohen goes the difficult route and plays it seriously, and I think for the most part he succeeds. He keeps the baby in the shadows for the most part and mostly plays the attack scenes out of the frame (probably because he knew they wouldn’t be very convincing), and instead concentrates on finding a good emotional thread by which to carry the story, and that emotional thread is that of the baby’s father’s attempt to come to terms with bizarre situation in which he’s thrown, one that ends up having a profound effect on his work, his relationships and his life. The script is even clever enough to see the parallels between his situation and that of Frankenstein’s, and when he speculates on the confusion between the man and the monster, we begin to wonder as to which one he will turn out to be. Still, the movie doesn’t quite transcend its campy reputation, and it you do have to laugh a bit when the baby attacks a milkman. Nevertheless, the script goes a long way towards making this movie more thoughtful than it might have been.