Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reasons Not To Have Kids #15 and 16: It's Alive & It's Alive 2

Tonight's double header is bought to you by Devon, a fellow Mass Invader. She too was kind enough to go all over the place with us in L.A, telling us neat stuff and showing us the fucking kick ass place she works at: the coolest video store in existance. Anyway, she takes on two Larry Cohen classics "It's Alive" and "It's Alive 2". Enjoy.

Frank Davis - A rather oily-looking public relations man who likes to fire his gun and also has a really neat wine cellar. "A many-faceted man."

Lenore Davis - Frank's wife. Totally losing her shit over this whole homicidal freakbaby thing.

Chris Davis - The original, non-mutant offspring of Frank and Lenore. Somehow doesn't have any fucking clue what's going on throughout most of the film, even though the Davis family has apparently become totally internationally famous for all the fucked up shit that's been happening with their baby.

Lieutenant Perkins - There's some stuff with him that I think is supposed to be like a counterpoint to the stuff with the Davis family, like to make you care more that the baby is going around killing people and stuff, but mostly the scenes with the police are boring.

After a goofy experimental opening sequence with a bunch of disembodied flashlight beams roaming shiftlessly around a black screen, we are launched immediately into a subdued, middle-of-the-night hospital excursion by Lenore and Frank Davis, who are clearly preggers and going into labor. Their young son, Chris, is also introduced.

After some revolting and unmentionable dialogue from Frank outside the maternity ward about "wee cuddies and wee cubs" or something, Lenore is shown getting strapped into the maternity chair and then gives birth off-screen. Frank and the rest of the hospital staff are alerted that something is amiss when a doctor staggers out of the delivery room and collapses in the hall. Closer investigation reveals that his face and throat have been chewed and clawed apart, and even closer investigation reveals a chaos of gore and carnage in the delivery room, where a bloodspattered, screaming, and hysterical Lenore remains strapped to the delivery table, surrounded by the ravaged corpses of about six or eight medical staff members.

Nobody is very clear initially on what has happened, and Frank seems to assume that the hospital was infiltrated by some maniac who killed all the doctors and kidnapped his baby. Some other people ask heavy questions about radiation exposure and prod the Davises about their hospital records, which indicate they had briefly considered aborting their pregnancy early on. Shit really escalates when a big-haired, go-go-boot-wearing lady in some remote locale gets attacked by the side of the road and is found clawed to death by the police, who now correctly suspect that the Davis baby is mobile, and on a homicidal rampage.

A couple other people get killed and there's a really awesome scene where a gun-toting SWAT team surrounds a normal, non-mutant baby that's just hanging out in somebody's back yard. Frank, meanwhile, gets fired from his job at a PR firm because his boss believes that people will be skeeved out by the knowledge that Frank's wife basically gave birth to the Antichrist. The Davises start to become more and more socially isolated and Lenore starts going crazy and popping pills and swilling booze all the time. Frank keeps gruffly asserting that the baby is not really his, and making swaggering overtures about how he plans to kill it.

The baby shows up at Chris's school at night when nobody is there and Frank has to go help the cops try to capture it. It wounds a police officer and escapes, then turns up again later at the Davis's actual house. Frank confronts it in their basement and shoots it, wounding it severely, but it escapes again. Finally a vast squadron of police and government agents are able to locate and surround the baby. Frank suddenly decides that he's been wrong all along, and that the baby should be cared for and allowed to live. He makes a last ditch effort to rescue it from the feds, pointing out that it's incapacitated and harmless, and begging them not to kill it, but they do anyway. Because they're jerks.

It's Alive functions very well as pure cheese if that's to your taste, but beneath its cheap FX, thin plot, and occasionally hammy performances lies a solid emotional core which contributes a genuine feeling of unease, and keeps the film compelling upon repeat viewing.


Eugene Scott - A kind of wormy guy with a weird mustache.

Jody Scott - Eugene's wife. She gives birth to a mutant baby and ends up falling in with a bunch of crazies who want to rescue it from certain death at the hands of the proper authorities.

Frank Davis - Back for round two, Frank has totally reversed all his opinions from the first movie and now believes that the mutant babies are okay and people need to leave them alone and quit killing them.

Dr. Forrest - A really angry guy who hates the mutant babies and thinks they should all be exterminated.

Dr. Perry - A large-foreheaded geneticist who believes the mutants may in fact represent a race of hyper-intelligent, evolutionarily advanced "superhumans." He's also really obsessed with getting them to someday have sex with each other and reproduce.

Detective Perkins - Also back for round two. Tragically, he survives.

So the first It's Alive movie was about what would happen if some hapless people popped out a deformed baby which subsequently freaked out and ran around killing people. It Lives Again expands on these same themes by exploring what might happen if -- stay with me here -- SEVERAL DIFFERENT deformed babies were ALL running around killing people. All at the same time! Think of it!

So it starts out with Frank, from the first movie, showing up at these peoples' house in Tucson. (We know it's Tucson because, after the opening credits sequence -- which, like the one from the first movie, is intensely avant garde, this time involving a murky shadow image of a baby carriage fading slowly into relief against a backdrop of rippling water -- we immediately cut to a huge road sign which says "TUCSON!" Maybe without the exclamation point, I don't remember.) The Tucson people are having a baby shower, and Mrs. Tucson is enormously, conspicuously pregnant. After everyone else except for Frank has left the baby shower, Mr. and Mrs. Tucson realize that Frank is no one that either of them has ever met. Instead of getting totally freaked out by the realization that some strange, greasy man has invaded their baby shower, Mr. and Mrs. Tucson calmly and cheerfully ask Mr. Frank who the hell he is and where he came from. Frank explains that he is Frank Davis, the father of the Davis Baby, and Mr. Tucson is all like "oh yeah I think I remember that" like yeah, really? You remember that a little? Frank basically tells them that he has come to Tucson to warn Mr. and Mrs. Tucson that their baby is probably a mutant baby. He rattles off a lot of reasons why this is probably true, and then he tells them that people from the government are surveilling their house, and points out some weird old man who is wandering around in their backyard, and who I guess they never noticed before Frank got there and pointed him out. Mr. Tucson, whose name is Eugene, is sort of dismissive and wants Frank to leave. Mrs. Tucson seems more receptive, smiling encouragingly and allowing Frank to touch her big preggers belly. Before he leaves, Frank gives Mr. and Mrs. Tucson his card, and entreats them to call him when Mrs. Tucson goes into labor. He warns that if they call the hospital or the police, their baby will be killed as soon as it is delivered.

Later, after Frank is gone, Mrs. Tucson starts going into labor. Frank, it has been revealed, is involved in an elaborate conspiracy with several other sympathetic wackos to rescue all the mutant babies from extermination and hide them somewhere so they can be raised in captivity and studied. Mr. Tucson calls Frank, but he is unable to get ahold of him. Instead, the Tucsons go to the hospital, and Eugene is immediately separated from his wife, who is hustled inside the building and converged upon by a large and shady assortment of doctors, medical staff, and government agents. The Tucsons realize they have made a huge mistake. At the last minute, Frank busts into the hospital with a gun and spirits the Tucsons away in a big, crazy truck with a little medical thing set up in the back, sort of like in that X-Files episode where they pull over that truck on the highway and realize that people have been doing alien autopsies in there. Remember that one?

So anyway, they try to somehow sedate the baby before it's born, but of course the sedation fails, and the baby lunges directly out of Mrs. Tucson's vagina and onto the face of some poor doctor who gets his throat ripped out. Undeterred, one of the other doctors scoops the baby up off the floor and plops it in a big metal cage, where it sits writhing and growling adorably.

The cops set up a road block and stop the truck, but the only people still in it are Mrs. Tucson, the injured doctor, and Frank. Everyone else has escaped. This scene shows Frank getting arrested, but for some reason in the very next scene he's walking around free again, so I guess kidnapping pregnant ladies at gunpoint isn't considered a very serious crime in Tucson.

Mrs. Tucson's real name is Jody. Back at home, Jody sits at her kitchen table in a bathrobe and looks ashen. She argues with her mother, who is a cunt. Jody's mother thinks this whole situation is somehow the fault of Jody's no-good husband and his poopy genetic material. Jody tells her mom to basically fuck off.

Meanwhile, Eugene has escaped with those other guys from the Maternity Party Van of Awesome and is being shown around their secret compound in like, Valencia. There are three babies total, and they're all living in cages in the basement. In addition to Jody and Eugene's baby (which is a boy), there is one male baby and one female baby, who the doctors have named Adam and Eve. ("It seemed like a good joke at the time," one doctor lamely quips.)

I took copious notes on the next like 30-40 minutes of the movie, but yeah, I'm not recapping all of it. Basically Jody is contacted by the doctors at the secret Mutant Baby Farm and they arrange for her to be brought there. Jody and Eugene argue, people have a lot of heavy conversations about what long-term implications the mutant babies might have for science, etc. Yawn. There's some stuff in there about the police and the government trying to figure out what's going on and locate Jody, Eugene, Frank, and the babies to recapture them. Finally, the main genetic specialist guy, Dr. Perry, stupidly takes one of the babies out of its cage and it kills him. Then it lets the other two babies out of their cage as well and all three of them go on a spree, killing one of the other doctors and attacking Eugene in the pool as he's taking a late night swim. The police, meanwhile, are closing in on the secret location (there was some hoo-ha about how they figured it out, but yeah, fuck that). The po po arrive just in time to hoist Eugene out of the swimming pool and shoot dead the baby that's dangling from his ankle.

Frank rescues one of the remaining babies and runs away with it through the woods, but his fate is sealed when some dumb night watchman shows up and harasses the baby by shining a flashlight in its face. The baby mauls Frank, absconds, and manages to ruin some poor kid's birthday party. There's a dramatic scene where one of the doctors from the hospital scene at the beginning, who has been tagging along with the police ever since, reveals that he is actually the father of the "Seattle baby" alluded to at the end of the first film, and that both the baby and his wife are now dead as a result of the birth. Eugene agrees that the babies are dangerous and says that he and Jody are willing to act as decoys to try to lure their own infant to a location where it can be exterminated.

The cops set Jody and Eugene up in a decoy house. The baby shows up, but when it does, Jody tries to rescue it, begging Eugene not to hurt it. Eventually, Eugene relents, and the happy family of three cozies up next to a roaring fire, just in time for the police to storm the house and blast everything to shit. The final scene shows a now-bespectacled Eugene somberly approaching another pregnant couple in a different city, presumably to deliver the same warning to them that Frank delivered to Jody and Eugene at the start of the film.

It's not as good as the first movie, and the second half in particular gets draggy and meandering, but overall I'd say it's more than half-decent.

Tomorrow, Adam returns with his review of "It's Alive 3: Expect Survivor Jokes Cause It Takes Place on An Island" (Note: Adam probably won't make Survivor, or even Lost, jokes in this review.)

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