Blu-ray Review: IT’S ALIVE Trilogy

IT’S ALIVE (1974) was written, produced and directed by Larry Cohen and stars John P. Ryan, Sharon Farrell, Andrew Duggan, Daniel Holzman and William Wellman Jr. The music was composed by Bernard Herrmann.

It’s newborn and … It’s Alive … and murder is what it knows best! A proud couple’s bundle of joy is really a newborn terror in filmmaker Larry Cohen’s cautionary cult hit that tapped into environmental fears. Leaving their son, Chris (Daniel Holzman), with a family friend (William Wellman Jr.), Frank (John P. Ryan) and Lenore Davis (Sharon Farrell) head to the hospital for the birth of their second child — which turns out to be a mutant who kills many doctors and nurses as it escapes. Convinced his monstrous son must be destroyed, Frank ignores Lenore and Chris’ pleas and tries to destroy the freakish progeny, unaware that the infant may be the blameless product of an experimental drug gone wrong.

It’s Alive follows a couple that’s dealing with their newborn baby that turns out to be a hidious mutated monster. The monster instantly kills the doctors and nurses as soon as its born which leaves it on the run afterwards. The entire movie deals with the parents trying to locate their baby and the suspense builds as the nightmarish story plays out because the authorites are also after it. The frightened creature lurks in the shadows (we hardly ever see it) as its father searches for it and ultimately reunites with his second son to finally put an end to its terrifying misadventures. The story was interesting and I like how Larry Cohen tied this creature’s mutation to polution and environmental awareness. The legendary Rick Baker created the makeup effects in the movie and even played the monster in certain scenes.

Run Time: 91 Minutes

Rated: PG

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: 

  • NEW 2K scan of the original film elements
  • NEW Cohen’s Alive: Looking Back at the It’s Alive Films featuring interviews with writer/producer/director Larry Cohen, actors James Dixon, Michael Moriarty and Laurene Landon and more… (18:14)
  • NEW It’s Alive at the Nuart: The 40th Anniversary Screening with Larry Cohen (13:27)
  • Audio Commentary with writer/producer/director Larry Cohen
  • Radio Spots (01:49)
  • TV Spots (01:05)
  • Theatrical Trailer (03:03)
  • Still Gallery (04:44)

IT LIVES AGAIN (1978) was written, produced and directed by Larry Cohen and stars Fredric Forrest, Kathleen Lloyd, Andrew Duggan, John Marley and John P. Ryan. The music was composed by Bernard Herrmann.

The horror grows when multiple child monsters rampage in the first sequel It Lives Again as two brave parents try to stop them by becoming the bait for their spree. Is it human? Is it a beast? Whatever it is, It Lives Again in this second film in cult filmmaker Larry Cohen’s Alive Trilogy. Once again, Cohen brings to the screen a hideous threesome of mutant baby monsters that are the evolutionary response to man’s polluted environment. These frightened creatures lash out with deadly claws at what they don’t understand. There are only three, but they could reproduce into uncontrollable millions if someone doesn’t destroy them. Fredric Forrest and Kathleen Lloyd star as the loving parents of one of the monstrous creatures. Parental love, however, is no match for these hell-spawned mutants. Their wild blood binge must be stopped. Will the next stage of their evolution become our last?

This second installment features a new couple that has one of these mutant monster babies that ends up getting paired with a couple of other fanged infants that are imprisoned inside a top-secret institute. The father from the first movie also returns to help this couple deal with their monster baby as well as fight against the sinister threat that wants to experiment on the creatures. As misunderstood as these fanged infants are, they’re still blood-thirsty monsters that kill when they get stressed out and with that comes a little blood and gore to go along with their terrifying tantrums. It doesn’t work out well for most of the adults who get close to this fanged newbie (the other two don’t live) and the couple’s terrifying experience allows them to pass on their knowledge to others who are having monster babies.

Run Time: 91 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: 

  • NEW 2K scan of the original film elements
  • Audio Commentary with writer/producer/director Larry Cohen
  • Theatrical Trailer (00:42)
  • Still Gallery (03:40)

IT’S ALIVE III: ISLAND OF THE ALIVE (1987) was written, produced and directed by Larry Cohen and stars Michael Moriarty, Karen Black, Laurene Landon, Gerrit Graham and Macdonald Carey. The music was composed by Laurie Johnson.

The now global mutants are rounded up and relocated to a far-flung island. In It’s Alive III: Island Of The Alive, Michael Moriarty and Karen Black star as Stephen and Ellen Jarvis, the distraught parents of one of the new mutant children. They’ve watched in horror as government death squads roamed the earth, shooting the humanoids on sight. They’ve suffered through the court hearings that sentenced their child and other surviving mutants to a remote, uninhabited island. And their nightmare continues … because the abandoned creatures are now grown … and they are coming back home to the society that created and rejected them. And no one who stands in their way will live.

The mutant babies are sent to an isolated island in this third and final entry where they end up becoming adults that are hellbent on returning to where they came from. They leave a trail of dead bodies behind them as they take their journey back to the home that ended up rejecting them in the first place. There’s a little more comedy in this one as well as more creature effects that incorporate some impressive stop-motion and it’s a trick that the first two movies didn’t have. We also get to see a lot more of the monsters this time, and as silly as they look, it simply works for the movie. Island of the Alive distances itself from the first two with the route it takes and the impressive new cast, that’s led by Larry Cohen’s go-to guy Michael Moriarty and Karen Black, did a great job with their likable characters.

Run Time: 85 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features:

  • NEW 2K scan of the original film elements
  • NEW interview with Special Effects Makeup Designer Steve Neill
  • Audio Commentary with writer/director Larry Cohen
  • Trailer (00:45)
  • Still Gallery (02:50)

The packaging comes with a slipcase with three individual blue plastic keepcases inside. The front of the slipcase features the artwork you see up top and the back includes special features for each movie along with some images. The front of the packaging for each Blu-ray keepcase features its own indivual artwork (see down below) and the back includes some images and list of special features. The reverse sleeve for It’s Alive and It Lives Again features some alternate artwork and movie credits while Island of the Alive features an image from the movie. Each Blu-ray disc also features some matching artwork. Inserting each disc, the menu screens were simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for these high-definition upgrades were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, I really enjoyed revisiting the It’s Alive Trilogy – the latest films from the Larry Cohen arsenal to get the Scream Factory midas touch. It’s Alive is kind of an iconic entry into Cohen’s trilogy because it’s a PG-rated horror movie that relies heavily on suspense instead of blood and gore. It also keeps the monster in the shadows and never reveals too much and that’s part of the charm of this fun cult classic. It Alive Again takes the R-rating and shows some of the red stuff as well as more of the monster babies and to me this is also the weakest entry into the trilogy but it’s still an okay watch. Island of the Alive is also R-rated and is the bizarre entry into the franchise. So bizarre that it’s cheesy good! This time the mutant monster babies blossom into full grown adults plus there’s some blood and gore to go along with it as well as a little dark humor. These three movies aren’t epic by no means but they are entertaining horror classics from cult maestro Larry Cohen and deserve to live again in high-definition so a whole new generation of horror fans can enjoy and appreciate them. Larry Cohen’s It’s Alive Trilogy finally makes its Blu-ray debut on May 15th and is worth checking out.

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