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  It's Alive III: Island of the Alive They Grow Up So Fast
Year: 1987
Director: Larry Cohen
Stars: Michael Moriarty, Karen Black, Laurene Landon, James Dixon, Gerrit Graham, Macdonald Carey, Neal Israel, Art Lund, Anne Dane, William Watson, C.L. Sussex, Patch Mackenzie, Rick Garcia, Carlos Palomino, Tony Abatemarco, Gladys Portugues, Joanne Lara
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: A cop is writing out a ticket on a rainy night when he hears someone calling for help: a cab driver has a pregnant woman in the back seat who is about to give birth. The cop goes over to assist and orders the driver to fetch assistance, but he stands there complaining instead as the baby begins to emerge: wait, there's something wrong! It's one of those mutant babies which has been in the news and it's growling, so the cop takes drastic action and pulls his gun, firing a few rounds into the infant as it pulls itself from between its mother's legs, but still it lives, sinking its fangs into the policeman and then turning its attention to the woman and the cabbie...

Not, then, the most conventional of movie introductions, but writer and director Larry Cohen was not a conventional moviemaker, relying on his instincts to keep things interesting, often on a fairly low budget. Here it was as if he had thought to himself, well, I've made two of these movies so far, and have a deal to make a third, so why make them the same as what had happened before? Why not try and surprise the audience? Which is what he did, though not everyone was prepared to appreciate all the work he was putting in to up the novelty value, and Cohen became unfairly tarred with the brush of bad taste.

Sure, there were plenty of scenes here that pushed the envelope of what was acceptable when your villains were a bunch of bouncing baby savages, but as ever with this filmmaker's intelligent and individual ways he had a lot to think over, and this thoughtfulness may have been at odds with the frequent tacky qualities of the end result but it did make it memorable. This was one of Cohen's run of eighties movies which meant more often than not another eccentric was involved, and that was Michael Moriarty in the role of the hero Jarvis, the father of one of the mutants who is fighting for the right to stop the creature being executed for its danger to the public, which not so coincidentally allowed Moriarty to expound on his fervent anti-abortion views.

Moriarty was well know for being outspoken on a number of issues, even planning to run for President for a while, but then again he was also well known for being aff his heid, and these idiosyncrasies had apparently warned people away from working with him. In this case the accomodating Cohen was happy to offer him free rein and improvise as he saw fit, which meant that essentially instead of some square jawed protagonist barging his way through the movie you had an utter weirdo. Many viewers had a problem with that, but if you were more on the filmmaker's wavelength you would understand that for a work as wacky as this, why not have a complete nutter as a hero? He's in his element with this plot, after all.

We learn that since the previous entry, we have lost John P. Ryan's character but gained a few more mutant babies, and the judge (Macdonald Carey), having had a close encounter with one of the little monsters in his own courtroom, orders the tykes of terror to be rounded up and plonked on an island where they can be left to their own devices. But some people are keen to investigate, like hunters, who show up appearing to be the new lead characters and are promptly devoured by the (now stop motion animated) babies. When Jarvis is persuaded to accompany a scientific expedition for some reason, he wants to see how his son is getting on, and along the way sexually harrass the sole female scientist which may or may not have been in the script, along with interrupting serious conversations with renditions of The Skye Boat Song at the top of his voice. To say any more would be to spoil the surprises, or more like the generally random nature of the movie, but rest assured there were few horror movie franchises that went quite as off the wall as this. Music by Laurie Johnson.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Larry Cohen  (1938 - )

Talented American writer/director who often combines exploitation subject matter with philosophical/social concepts. Began working in TV in the 1960s, where he created popular sci-fi series The Invaders, before directing his first film, Bone (aka Dial Rat), in 1972. A pair of blaxploitation thrillers - Black Caesar and Hell Up In Harlem - followed, while 1974's horror favourite It's Alive! was a commercial hit that led to two sequels.

God Told Me To and Special Effects were dark, satirical thrillers, while Q: The Winged Serpent and The Stuff were witty modern monster movies. Cohen directed Bette Davis in her last film, Wicked Stepmother, and reunited Blaxploitation stars Pam Grier, Fred Williamson and Richard Roundtree for Original Gangstas in 1996. Cohen has also had considerable success as a scriptwriter, turning in deft screenplays for the Maniac Cop films and mainstream pictures like Best Seller, Sidney Lumet's Guilty As Sin and most recently Joel Schumacher's Phone Booth.

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