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Vern reviews ITS ALIVE remake film!!!

IT'S ALIVE Man, anybody notice they do alot of remakes these days? Seems like it anyway. I'd have to research it a little more to be sure. This is the remake of Larry Cohen's 1974 killer baby picture. I thought it was supposed to play in theaters, but that's because I didn't know it was from the DTV kings at Millennium Pictures and Josef Rusnak, director of ART OF WAR II: BETRAYAL and THE CONTRACTOR. This one unfortunately doesn't star Wesley Snipes, but instead Bijou Phillips as the mother of the killer baby. In this version she's a graduate student under some pressure to not have the baby so that she doesn't screw up her education and throw away a career she's been working toward. But she makes the decision to leave school to give birth and live with her boyfriend and the disabled younger brother he's raising. The baby grows unusually fast so she has to have a forced birth. She's drugged up for her C-section and when she wakes up the operating room is covered in blood and dead bodies, which is not how it's supposed to look. Also the baby is pretty big for a preemie. We the viewers can guess that the baby is the culprit, but understandably the characters don't jump to the same conclusion. You don't just go around pointing fingers at a newborn. In my experience you want to be absolutely sure that the baby really committed the massacre before making a serious accusation like that. So Bijou and her boyfriend set out to deal with a difficult birth - they just don't know how difficult. At first the dead animals they find around the house don't seem to be connected to the baby. It's a while before mommy catches baby eating a rat, and even longer before she has to hide the bodies of her dead friends. I wonder if maybe there should've been more of a whodunit mystery kind of thing here. Like maybe there should've been a couple other baby characters in the movie and you're not sure which baby it is doing the killing until it's revealed at the end. I don't know. Maybe not. Original IT'S ALIVE writer/director Larry Cohen is credited as one of three writers on the remake. That's because he tried to do the remake himself, so I guess at some point he left or got dumped and they rewrote his script. According to interviews he planned to deal with advances in genetics and the dangers of parents wanting to abort their baby because they find out its disabled in some way, or even gay. That would've been a reasonable new thing to add into the mix, but it's not in the final remake. There's something about an attempt to abort the baby that can be interpreted as the reason for the mutation, or why the baby is angry, but I don't think it's meant as an anti-abortion parable considering how the baby turns out. If ever there was a baby to want to abort it would be this little fucker. Anyway, this has the usual remake problem of needlessness. I'm not sure why you need to remake it. The original might be dated, but in an interesting way. It has things to say about the time it was made. This one maybe says a little less. Despite that, for me (I like the original, but don't love it or remember everything about it) the remake is an enjoyable experience, a solid little horror movie that treats a ridiculous premise with admirable seriousness. Other than the ambiguous abortion thing I mentioned there's no hint at why the baby is this way, because it doesn't really matter. They don't even once mention "the environment." Instead the movie is interested in the fears of parenting: is she ready to be a mother, is he ready to be a father, or a husband, will she have to give up her life plans, will it be worth giving up her life plans, is the younger brother gonna be okay with it, is the baby normal? And the guilt of having been unsure about the pregnancy. And most of this stuff you get to read on their faces, they don't have a bunch of stupid dialogue to explain what they're feeling or that the mother - who is more the central figure than she was in the original - is having trouble weighing "he's my son and I love him unconditionally" against "oh shit, my baby keeps mauling people." Like in the original they keep the baby mostly out of sight, off screen, in blankets or shadows. With maybe one sharp-toothed exception the money shots are subtle and creepy. There's a scene in the basement where the baby slowly crawls out from around a corner and stares. But he's across the room and in shadows, you have to squint to get a look at him. But he looks real. Also like the original the killings are really over the top. You're not seeing little Daniel, but you sure are seeing blood cover the windows and walls. He just tears people apart with his little monster baby teeth and claws or whatever he has. And it's funny because he's a baby, a human baby (to some extent). And I think that's why this is DTV. It's better than some horror movies that get a theatrical release, but I bet they're right if they think today's audiences would laugh it off the screen. Back in the '70s the trailers for these movies made kids shit their beds, but now they probaly think killer babies are funny. People now days got no appreciation for the outlandish and the absurd. They think because it's crazy that means it's bad. They haven't seen the original so they haven't seen something like this before. They're not ready. They can't take it. They're too literal, too square, too anti-killer baby. So fuck 'em. Of course, the people who can appreciate a killer baby movie have most likely seen the original IT'S ALIVE movies, and aren't looking for an update. But if they are it's due October 6th. I say just because this remake was an accident doesn't mean we can't appreciate the creepy scene where the father traps the baby in a garbage can and takes it out in the woods and loads his gun while otherworldly wailing echoes from inside. It was unwanted, but that doesn't mean it's not beautiful in God's eyes. As far as DTV movies go. --Vern

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