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It's Alive

The film that put maverick producer-writer-director Larry Cohen on the map, IT'S ALIVE is a justifiably praised low-budget effort that delves into the dark side of American family life from a horror-movie perspective. The film opens as proud parents Frank and Lenore Davies (John P. Ryan and Sharon Farrell) enter the hospital to deliver their new child. Suddenly all hell breaks loose in the delivery room, as Lenore gives birth to a monstrous baby that kills several hospital personnel before scurrying off into the night. (The mutation may have been caused by a new fertility drug pushed on mothers by the pharmaceutical industry.) The horrifed parents are torn: while Lenore feels strong maternal instincts for the child, Frank resolves to hunt it down and kill it. He assists the police in their search for the monster, but as the hunt gets warmer, he too begins to feel instinctive affection for the creature and finally attempts to save his child. Part visceral horror flick and part Oedipal allegory, IT'S ALIVE explores a widely repressed but crucial element of family life--parents' ambivalence toward their children--and satirizes society's cavalier treatment of its youngest members, prefiguring the mean social policies of the American 90s. Cohen turned this rich and terrifying concept into a trilogy: IT LIVES AGAIN and IT'S ALIVE III: ISLAND OF THE ALIVE followed.