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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Thriller > Itís Alive (1974 Warner DVD Original + 2008 First Look Unrated DVD Remake)

Itís Alive (1974 Warner DVD Original + 2008 First Look Unrated DVD Remake)


Picture: B-/C†††† Sound: C/C+†††† Extras: B/C†††† Films: B+/C-



The awful cycle of remaking every classic Horror film around has been a disaster and 2009 has been as bad a year as any.Some films are harder to remake than others and the shallow trash idea that you can take a title and use it as a name brand, resulting in a franchise is inane and worse.One of the last major Horror films to be desecrated is Larry Cohenís grossly underrated Itís Alive, the 1974 film that just kept going and going and going.Pre-mass media era, it was playing very limited for a year in theaters before Warner Bros. picked it up and it became such a hit, two sequels followed.Cohen was thinking about doing an updated sequel, but not before Josef Rusnak (duds Art Of War II, Thirteenth Floor) ruined it.


In the original, a nice married couple (Sharon Farrell, John P. Ryan) are expecting, but she is not feeling very good.The baby does not ďfeel rightĒ and when she gives birth, she passes out and all the delivery team is brutally murdered, but by whom?As the police investigate, they start to realize it is their child, with the investigation of how linking the childbirth with industrial pollution.That was a very new idea then and makes this highly suspenseful, smart, effective thriller all the more palpable.Up there with Rosemaryís Baby and The Omen, this is a classic that goes beyond the genre and deserves serious rediscovery (and a Blu-ray release by Warner).


The remake may cause people who have never seen the first film to see what the big fuss was about and why it was remade.You certainly would have no idea it was even know by watching how bad, weak, lame and highly unnecessary this dumb remake is.Bijou Philips (a good actress wasted in her worst role and performance) is the pregnant woman and when she has her baby, the same thing happens, but not much more.From there, the 85 boring minutes just drags along with nothing much to do save a few killing set ups then ends in the dumbest way possible.Despite paying for the name and use of Cohenís script, it is surprising how much of the script is thrown out the window.The result is a bomb that barely played theaters and rightly so.


The unknown actors are boring, there is zero suspense, the dialogue is as flat as it is stupid and it is a total waste that should have never been made.It is not offensive, an extremely thin redeeming value something like The Last House On The Left remake cannot claim, but it is just a paycheck for Cohen and Rusnak joins a growing list of hacks who should never be left with a camera of any kind.As bad as the recent similar feature Grace (reviewed elsewhere on this site) was, at least it had some good ideas and this has none.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on the original film looks very good with a transfer approved by Cohen and lensed by his great Director of Photography collaborator Fenton Hamilton.It features great shooting throughout, enhancing the narrative, pumping up the suspense and creating so many stark, memorable shots than it holds its power decades later.The Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono should have been 2.0 Mono, but is clean and features a fine score by the legendary Bernard Herrmann.


The remake has an anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image that is soft, loaded with motion blur, has color issues, bad editing and no one on the set seems to know what to do with a scope frame.The digital effects are laughable all the way to the reveal of the baby and if it were a hit, Family Guy would have gone after it.The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix has an awkward soundstage, is uneven and location audio flaws are in the mix, which can also be harsh and has forgettable music all around.


Extras in the remake are trailers for this and other, better First Look releases, while the original film has trailers for the original trilogy and an excellent, must-hear feature length audio commentary by Cohen recorded before the remake was even cooked up.However, he discusses remaking the film with updated biology, technology and more twists.Apparently, the team who remade it did not even listen to his commentary before making it for suggestions.


Stick with the original and then see the sequels.Avoid this remake like the H1N1 virus!



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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