It’s Alive + It Lives Again (1974 + 1978)

Rating: C- and C+

Dir: Larry Cohen
Star: John P. Ryan, Sharon Farrell, Frederic Forrest, Kathleen Lloyd

[22] Cohen has an ability to take even the most ridiculous of concepts and turn it into a horror movie. Whether it’s killer yoghurt (The Stuff), killer flying snakes (Q: The Winged Serpent) or, as in this case, killer babies, his technique is to play it all totally straight, no matter to what depths of bizarreness things sink. In the first film, we have a mother giving birth to a mutant kid, which then proceeds to rampage through LA on its way back home, yet no-one ever bothers to mention how ludicrous it is. Perhaps wisely, the baby is kept mostly out of sight, Cohen endeavouring to create a creepy atmosphere while making social comment on the evils of pollution: neither are hugely successful, but it’s only in the last fifteen minutes that boredom really sets in. Given the severely limited material, this isn’t a bad squeeze job at all.

The follow-up heads off in a different direction, concentrating on the government plot to kill all the mutant babies, and the counter-conspirators trying to save them. This works better, and the feel is similar to Scanners (albeit with fewer exploding heads). Cohen adopts Jim Cameron’s approach to sequels i.e. if one baby is scary, three must be scarier – however, you rarely see more than one, presumably for budgetary reasons, leaving the effect somewhat diluted! Still, Cohen’s reputation for strange little efforts is proven once more to be well-deserved.