ICFIFC: It’s Alive (1974)(2008)

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

ICFIFC: It’s Alive (1974)(2008)

Lawrence G. "Larry" Cohen (born July 15, 1941 is an American film producer, director, and screenwriter.  He is best known as a B-Movie auteur of horror and science fiction films – often containing a police procedural element – during 1970s and 1980s.  He has since concentrated mainly on screenwriting including the Joel Schumacher thriller Phone Booth (2002), Cellular (2004) and Captivity(2007).  In 2006 Cohen returned to the directing chair for the Mick Garris-created Masters of Horror TV series (2006); he directed the episode Pick Me Up.

Cohen began his career as a writer for well-known television series, concentrating his efforts on – but not limiting them to – the crime and detective genres.  He penned several episodes of The Defenders (1964) – which starred E.G. Marshall – and episodes of The Fugitive (1964–65).  Other writing credits during the 1960s included the fantasy-suspense anthologies Kraft Television Theatre (1958) and Kraft Suspense Theatre (1965), the espionage TV series Coronet Blue (1967) starring Frank Converse, and the science fiction TV series, The Invaders (1967–68). In 1966 he wrote the screenplay to the western film Return of the Seven aka Return of the Magnificent Seven, a sequel to the original film, which saw the return of Yul Brynner as gunslinger Chris Adams.  He also created the western TV series Branded (1965–1966).

Although Cohen continued to write TV and film scripts during the 1970s – such as Columbo – he further turned his hand to directing.  His directorial debut was the comedy film Bone starring Yaphet Kotto, aka Beverly Hills Nightmare, Dial Rat for Terror and Housewife.  In 1974 he directed the horror film It's Alive, about a mutant monster baby that embarks on a killing spree.  The film – an initial commercial failure – was re-released with a new and sharper advertisement campaign; it went onto earn over $7 million for Warner Bros. and spawn two sequels.  Cohen followed-up It's Alive with the science fiction-serial killer film God Told Me To (1976), in which a New York detective investigates a spate of killings by apparently random people who say that God told them to commit the crimes.  He would concentrate his work – predominantly – within the horror genre throughout the 1970s and 1980s, although often incorporating elements of crime, police procedural, and science fiction.

During the 1980s, Cohen directed, produced, and scripted a number of low-budget horror films, many of which featured actor Michael Moriarty.  The first was Q – aka Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)—about an Aztec god—Quetzalcoatl or the Winged Serpent—resurrected and nesting atop the Chrysler Building.  The film is set in New York City, as was typical for Cohen, and sees two police detectives investigating a spate of killings in the city.  The cast is headed by Moriarty and co-stars David Carradine, Candy Clark, Richard Roundtree, and James Dixon (another Cohen regular).  Cohen's next project with Moriarty was The Stuff (1985) in which an alien substance of sorts is found bubbling out of the ground.  The Stuff is marketed to the general public, which rapidly becomes addicted to it.  David "Mo" Rutheford—an industrial saboteur— played by Michael Moriarty, is hired to investigate the origins of the Stuff and to then destroy the product.  The film co-stars Danny Aiello, Brian Bloom, Scott Bloom, Andrea Marcovicci, Patrick O'Neal, and Paul Sorvino.  Saturday Night Live regular Garrett Morris plays Charlie W. Hobbs aka Chocolate Chip Charlie, a junk food mogul who assists Mo with his investigation.  Cohen cast Moriarty in It's Alive 3: Island of the Alive (1987)—the third part of the Alive Trilogy—and again in A Return to Salem's Lot (1987), the unofficial sequel of Stephen King's novel and TV miniseries Salem's Lot.  Cohen finished the 1980s with Wicked Stepmother (1989), in which the late Bette Davis made her last appearance.

It's Alive is a 1974 American horror film written, produced, and directed by Larry Cohen.  In the movie, a couple's infant child turns out to be a vicious mutant monster that kills when frightened.  Notable talents involved in the movie were Bernard Herrmann who composed the score (noted for his work on many films of Alfred Hitchcock) and Rick Baker for makeup and puppet effects.

It's Alive (1974)

  • Genre: Horror 
  • Directed: Larry Cohen
  • Produced:
    • Larry Cohen 
    • Peter Sabiston 
    • Janelle Webb
  • Written: Larry Cohen
  • Starring: John P. Ryan, Sharon Farrell, James Dixon, William Wellman Jr., Shamus Locke, Andrew Duggan, Guy Stockwell, Michael Ansara
  • Music: Bernard Herrmann
  • Cinematography: Fenton Hamilton
  • Editing: Peter Honess
  • Studio:
    • Warner Bros.  
    • Larco Productions
  • Distributed:
    • Warner Bros.  
    • Columbia Broadcasting System  
    • Dabara Films  
    • Warner Home Video
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: October 1974
  • Running Time: 91 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

In Los Angeles, Frank Davis and his wife Lenore are expecting their second child.  Frank is a successful public relations consultant and his wife is a stay-at-home mom for their first child, Chris.  The couple had avoided having a child for several years while Lenore took contraceptive pills.  When the child is ready to be born, they leave Chris with a family friend, Charley and head to the hospital.  Their second child is born monstrously deformed, with fangs and claws.  Immediately after birth, one of the doctors attempts to suffocate the child.  The child kills the doctors and nurses, and flees through a skylight.  Lenore is left alive, screaming for her child as a horrified Frank discovers the carnage.

Frank and Lenore are allowed to leave the hospital while the police investigate the killings.  Unknown to anyone, the child is making its way to the Davis  home, killing people it comes across, including a musician and a milkman. As the killings continue, the press and the police hound Frank and Lenore.  When talking with medical researchers investigating the case, Frank is reminded of watching Frankenstein and Karloff's portrayal of the monster.  He looks at the child as related to the monster and comes to see himself as Dr. Frankenstein, the true monster as he created the original creature.  Frank denies the child is his son, and joins the hunt for the murderous infant.

Meanwhile, the doctor who prescribed the prescription drugs to Lenore is contacted by a pharmaceutical executive. The executive acknowledges that the child is a genetic monstrosity that may have been created due to the prescription drugs.  He tells the doctor that the child needed to be destroyed to prevent research that might point to its origin.  After Frank is called to a local school where a break-in has been reported and a police officer is found killed, the infant makes it way to the Davis home where Lenore accepts the child as her son and hides him in the basement.  Missing his family, Chris runs away from Charley's house to go back home, and Charley follows him. Frank discovers that Lenore is hiding the infant, and Lenore pleads with him, saying the child is just scared and frightened and would not hurt the family.  Frank takes a gun into the basement, still intent on killing the deformed infant where he finds Chris talking to his little brother, saying he will protect him.  Frank yells for Chris to move and shoots at the child, hitting it.  The infant runs out of the basement and leaps at the just-arrived Charley and bites his neck, killing him.  The child flees as Frank shoots again.  Lenore runs into the basement screaming at Frank, who yells that her son just killed Charley.  He slaps his wife, telling her to take his son back upstairs while he hunts the murderous infant.

The police contact Frank and inform him that the child has been tracked to the sewers.  Frank takes a rifle into the sewer to hunt the infant.  While in the sewer, Frank catches sight of the child and leaves as the cops continue searching.  As Frank nears the child, he realizes that the child is simply frightened and will not hurt him.  He apologizes  for hurting the child, and picks up the crying infant.  Wrapping the baby in his coat, Frank tries to escape the police, but is confronted as he exits the sewers by a mob of armed cops intent on killing the child.  He pleads for the cops to take the child away and study him, but to let him live.  As the fertility doctor screams for the police to just open fire and kill them, the child leaps from Frank's arms and attacks the doctor.  The cops open fire, killing both the infant and the doctor.  As the Davises are taken home by the police, a call comes in from HQ, telling the detective that another deformed baby has been born in Seattle.


And of course when you have something as amazing well made and successful as 1974’s cinematic masterpiece that is It’s Alive you have to have the obligatory remake because…I have no idea why you would even want to remake It’s Alive.  Don’t get me wrong, the original is actually one of my guilty pleasures but when it was made the phantom of Thalidomide was still fresh in everyone’s mind.  Horrible medical disasters don’t happen like that anymore so the point is kind of lost both on the filmmakers and the audience they are aiming for.  Some things just don’t need to be remade or updated.

 

It's Alive (2008)

  • Genre: Horror – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Josef Rusnak
  • Produced:
    • Mark Brooke 
    • Mark Damon 
    • Boaz Davidson 
    • Moshe Diamant 
    • Danny Dimbort 
    • Simon Fawcett 
    • J. Todd Harris 
    • Robert Katz 
    • Avi Lerner 
    • Marc Marcum 
    • Julie G. Moldo 
    • James Portolese 
    • Bobby Ranghelov 
    • Trevor Short 
    • Tamara Stuparich de la Barra 
    • Marc Toberoff
  • Written:
    • Larry Cohen 
    • Paul Sopocy 
    • James Portolese
  • Starring: Bijou Phillips, James Murray, Raphaël Coleman, Owen Teale, Ty Glaser, Oliver Coopersmith, Ioan Karamfilov, Jack Ellis, Skye Bennett, Arkie Reece, Todd Jensen
  • Music: Nicholas Pike
  • Cinematography: Wedigo von Schultzendorff
  • Editing:
    • James Herbert 
    • Patrick McMahon
  • Studio:
    • Millennium Films  
    • Foresight Unlimited  
    • Signature Pictures 
    • Amicus Entertainment 
    • IPW Productions  
    • Aramid Entertainment Fund  
    • Alive Productions
  • Distributed: First Look Pictures
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: October 6, 2009
  • Running Time: 80 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Just before the end of her semester at college, Lenore Harker leaves to have a baby with her architect boyfriend, Frank at his remote log cabin.  After discovering the baby has doubled in size in just a month, doctors decide to extract the baby by caesarian section, although Frank is not present.  As the doctor cuts the umbilical cord, the newborn goes on a rampage, killing every doctor and nurse in the operating room.  When the film cuts back to the new mother, the baby is asleep on her stomach and the room is covered with blood.

After questioning by the police, Lenore is allowed to take the baby home.  Authorities arrange for a psychologist to help her regain her memory of the delivery.  Soon, baby Daniel bites Lenore when she’s feeding him, revealing his taste for blood.

Daniel begins to attack small animals and progressed to killing adult humans.  Lenore refuses to accept that her baby is a cannibalistic killer.  One day, Frank comes home from work to find Lenore sitting in the baby's room, but Daniel is not in his crib.  Frank asks Lenore where Daniel is and finds a dead bird in the crib.  Frank then goes in search of Daniel and winds up getting locked in the basement.  The police find Frank, who witnesses Daniel kill a police officer.  Frank then manages to capture Daniel, but is unable to bring himself to kill the baby.  He is then attacked by his son.

Lenore comes out to find Daniel and sees Frank is injured.  She brings the baby back to the house, and it is implied she kills herself and the baby in a fire.  Frank and his brother watch the house burn.

Larry Cohen, the director of the 1974 original, was interviewed on December 21, 2009 regarding the remake and gave it a negative review, saying "It's a terrible picture. It's just beyond awful" and "I would advise anybody who likes my film to cross the street and avoid seeing the new enchilada."

 

Notes:

Just wanted to throw in that this story was inspired by a real world drug related incident:

Thalidomide was released into the market in 1957 in West Germany under the label of Contergan.  The German drug company Grünenthal developed and sold the drug Thalidomide.  Primarily prescribed as a sedative or hypnotic, thalidomide also claimed to cure “anxiety, insomnia, gastritis, and tension".  Afterwards it was used against nausea and to alleviate morning sickness in pregnant women.  Thalidomide became an over the counter drug in Germany around 1960, and could be bought without a prescription.  Shortly after the drug was sold, in Germany, between 5,000 and 7,000 infants were born with malformation of the limbs (phocomelia).  Only 40% of these children survived.

The statistic was given that “50 percent of the mothers with deformed children had taken thalidomide during the first trimester of pregnancy.”  Throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States, 10,000 cases were reported of infants with phocomelia; only 50% of the 10,000 survived.  Those subjected to thalidomide while in the womb experienced limb deficiencies in a way that the long limbs either were not developed or presented themselves as stumps.  Other effects included: deformed eyes, hearts, alimentary, and urinary tracts, and blindness and deafness.

The negative effects of thalidomide led to the development of more structured drug regulations and control over drug use and development.  Pomalidomide, a derivative of thalidomide marketed by Celgene was approved in February 2013 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma also known as plasma cell myeloma or Kahler's disease (after Otto Kahler), is a cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell normally responsible for producing antibodies.  In multiple myeloma, collections of abnormal plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow, where they interfere with the production of normal blood cells.  Most cases of myeloma also feature the production of a paraprotein—an abnormal antibody which can cause kidney problems.  Bone lesions and hypercalcemia (high calcium levels) are also often encountered.

 

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