Island of the Alive

It's Alive is a sentimental favorite of mine. As a matter of fact, you could say that I have a nostalgic connection to the entire trilogy. I remember taping It Lives Again off of TNT's MonsterVision and being flabbergasted that not even the piquant spires of John "Joe Bob" Bloom's running commentary were potent enough to salvage such a languid film. The 1974 original deserved an entertaining follow-up. While Island of the Alive doesn't rival said cult classic, it does displace the stuffy melodrama of its predecessor. Again felt like daytime television. Island takes this "killer baby" saga back to its grindhouse roots. The gore is ramped up, the pace is galvanized and we see more of the mutated moppets (sic).

Cohen regular Michael Moriarty stars as Jarvis, an actor made famous for all of the wrong reasons. His son is one of the little abominations tearing cooters asunder all across America. Unfortunately, his situation emerges as a media circus when the fate of his child is decided in a court of law. Jarvis doesn't want his bundle of terror to be euthanized. He implores the judge to abjure the general consensus, to flirt with the idea of transposing the infants to a secluded area where they can't harm anyone. In the end, the sympathetic magistrate spares the lives of the toothy tots. They are sent to an uncharted island to live in the wild. Y'know, the more I think about the plot, the more I realize that it's batshit crazy. "Hey, let's drop these deformed children off in a jungle somewhere. I'm sure they'll be fine."

Moriarty's performance needs to be...experienced. A friend of mine castigates his acting skills at every turn, insisting that he's the worst thespian on Satan's red earth. I disagree. Here, Arty (that's what I call him; we're on a nickname basis) slowly devolves into a whirling, delirious mess. At times, it's as if he has drifted into oblivion. He doesn't take anything seriously, but it makes sense for his character to be broken. Jarvis has a detached ex-wife, a monster kid and he works at a goddamn shoe store. Put yourself in his shoes. Wouldn't you undergo a nervous collapse? The rest of the cast (which includes Karen Black and Gerrit Graham) mails it in. None of the supporting players left an impression on my impressionable mind.

I'm conflicted. Island is mediocre, and yet, there are several aspects of the production that I enjoyed. For starters, Larry Cohen had a budget to play with. This is a glossy, kaleidoscopic film. I believe the cliché that I'm hinting at is "style over substance." Naturally, I dug the rubber creature suits. I have to ask, though; if a mutant baby were to grow up, wouldn't it become a mutant adult? Apparently not. That's what I get for scrutinizing a b-movie. I hate to be wishy-washy, but I find myself at a morass. A stalemate. A quandary. A...fuck it, nevermind. Island of the Alive doesn't have any glaring issues in the eyes of a forgiving horror junkie, but it's not particularly engrossing. It's mildly fun, no doubt. I just couldn't get into it. However, it bears repeating that this flick surpasses It Lives Again by an Olympic mile.

It's also superior to 2008's ill-conceived It's Alive remake (read my review HERE).


  1. I agree with you - technically it's not a great movie but it's completely watchable. I remember the first and third but for some reason the second eludes me, can't remember anything about that one.

  2. Oh, and I always liked Michael Moriarity. He was good on Law N Order and I remember him on this cheesy horror movie, The Lift.

  3. I still haven't seen The Lift (or its remake).