Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's Alive! (Not to be Confused with It's Alive!)

I learned something today. There are at least two movies with the same name... It's Alive!.

The one I already knew about came out in 1974 and featured a murderous baby. I remember seeing the theater poster when I was a kid, and it scared the hell out of me. Despite that, I wanted to see it badly... But there was no way that my folks were going to let a 6 year old boy watch a movie that featured a blood-thirsty gluttonous baby that gnawed on human flesh... Even in the early '70s. But that poster seemed to beckon me. As my mother grabbed my hand to scurry us past the theater I stared at it unable to shake my glance. It was hypnotic. So like I did with most things deemed too adult for my childhood brain back then, I made a mental vow to myself... I would watch that movie someday. 

Tonight I got my chance... Or did I?

I was flipping through the channels trying to find a good program in which to take a nap to. I was stunned to see It's Alive! had just started on the Independent Film Channel. Immediately recognizing the name of the movie and remembering my childhood vow, I clicked to the channel. It had just started. I hit the INFO button and read what it said: It's Alive! (1969) Tommy Kirk, Shirley Bonne, Bill Thurman A deranged hunter captures and feeds three people to his pet prehistoric monster. There was no mention of the murderous baby and the date seemed a little bit early considering I was born in 1968, and specifically remember that moment when my mother grabbed my hand as I stared at the poster... I knew I was older than one year old. But I gave it the benefit of the doubt, because it did fit the era, thinking that perhaps the prehistoric monster WAS the murderous baby.

That is one hour and a half I will never get back. Upon doing some internet research I discovered that the It's Alive! movie I was remembering was not the same as this film with the same title. The movie I had been thinking of was released in 1974, had an entirely different plot, and  most likely had better acting and better special effects. The film I watched this evening was so bad that I literally could not bring myself to change the channel. Seriously... Like that poster I stared at as a child, this movie had me in some hypnotic spell that wouldn't let me give it up. Maybe I hoped that it would get better, or maybe I didn't want to watch Wheel of Fortune, but I sat through this entire schlock-filled borefest all the while wondering why.

You can read the best review I found of this film here. I don't deem this film worthy of my own review, but I do have a few thoughts worth sharing...

The monster costume was so bad that it left nothing to the imagination. It was obviously a mask made of rubber, and most likely the most expensive prop in the entire film. If I was trapped in a cave with this creature, fear is the last emotion I would feel. I'd probably offer it a handful from a bowl of candy and shoo it on it's way.

The person who plays Wayne Thomas (Tommy Kirk) gets shot in the chest almost immediately after waking up from being thrown down a rocky mine shaft, but mysteriously makes no mention of pain, shows no weakness, and displays no blood throughout the rest of the film. But he does manage to charm his way into the heart of Leilla Sterns (Shirley Bonne), who despite watching her husband get eaten alive by the monster, seems to welcome his advances, stroking his hair and even teasing him about not liking her once they get out of there.

The guy who plays the villian, Greevy (Bill Thurman) looks like a cross between Jack Nicholson and the Sysco Foods rep I use at work. He shot Wayne Thomas in the chest and locked three people in a cave as food for his prehistoric pet, but seemed genuinely concerned that they ate really well while they were alive. He would send his "wife" down with food and coffee, and even bandages to help heal the afore- mentioned unseen gun shot wound.

The movie ends with the words THE END? written drearily on the screen, as if the question mark was going to send the movie goers home with an unsettling thought of this entire tragedy re-occuring, which in effect, is scary enough. Apparently it was the end however, as it's now going on 41 years since the release of this horrific film.

My vow stands. I will watch It's Alive! someday.

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