It Lives Again

3 out of 5

Directed by: Larry Cohen

A smartly conceived direct sequel to It’s Alive, Larry Cohen once again works around budget limitations to deliver an interesting horror thriller, if not quite hitting any peaks in either the horror or thriller department.

Father of the It’s Alive monster baby, Frank Davis (John P. Ryan), has returned, now as protector of all of monster babykind.  As indicated in the closing of the previous flick, more of this new breed are starting to be born, and unbeknownst to expecting couple Jody and Eugene (Kathleen Lloyd, Frederic Forrest), not only are they going to be host to one such kid, but some shady hookup of doctors / government / cops have taken it upon themselves to off the kids immediately after birth.  Frank classily delivers this duo of shocks at the couple’s baby shower, but, true to Cohen’s straight-ahead narrative style, there’s not much of a to-do: Jody and Eugene pretty much accept the facts, then hem and haw over how they feel about it.

Which is where Cohen’s intelligence in piecing this together really comes out: as the couple is split, similarly to how Frank and his wife were, about their next actions, and yet It Lives Again never threatens to become a simple rehash.  Frank’s experience was one of surprise; Jody and Eugene are clued in ahead of time, and it makes a world of difference.  While the film is rather lacking in the omnipresent creeping baby of flick one – the newborn is kept under observation most of the time – the conversations between the couple and the doctors on opposing sides of the issue are pretty compelling, and, especially with Lloyd and Forrest, well acted.  Cohen peppers some amusing moments throughout, and Rick Baker gives us some slightly more animated kid creatures this time, and the final sequences add some emotional weight that furthers the notion that this wasn’t simply made-for-a-buck sequel.  (Though, y’know, bucks are nice.)

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