Next up in the Larry Cohen Collection is the finale of the “It’s Alive” trilogy: “It’s Alive 3: Island Of The Alive.”
“It’s Alive 3” was once again written, directed, and produced by Larry Cohen, almost 10 years after the release of “It Lives Again,” the second installment in the franchise.
The cinematographer for “It’s Alive 3” was once again Daniel Pearl, who contributed significantly on the photography for “It Lives Again,” and also worked on “Full Moon High” and “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”
The special effects on “It’s Alive 3” were provided in part by Brent Armstrong (“Starship Troopers,” “Class of 1999,” “In The Mouth Of Madness”) and Bill Hedge (“Piranha,” “Species,” “Airplane!”), replacing Rick Baker, who worked on the first two films in the series.
The music for “It’s Alive 3” was provided by Laurie Johnson, who worked extensively on the soundtrack for “It Lives Again,” and has provided scores for movies such as “Dr. Strangelove” and “Tiger Bay.”
The producers for “It’s Alive 3” included Paul Kurta and Barry Shils returning to the series after working on “It Lives Again,” along with newcomers Paul Stader, a proficient career stuntman who worked on “Star Trek” and “The Planet of the Apes,” and Barabara Zitwer, who went on to produce “Vampire’s Kiss” and Larry Cohen’s “The Ambulance.”
“It’s Alive 3” was edited by David Kern, who went on to edit the “Maniac Cop” trilogy and do sound editing for larger movies like “Rush Hour” and “Scream 3.”
James Dixon is the only returning actor from the first two films, reprising his role as Lt. Perkins. Larry Cohen regular Michael Moriarty (“The Stuff,” “Q: The Winged Serpent”) joins the franchise, along with Karen Black (“Nashville”), Laurene Landon (“Full Moon High,” “Maniac Cop”), Macdonald Carey (“Days of Our Lives”), and Gerrit Graham (“C.H.U.D. II: Bud The Chud”).
The events of “It’s Alive 3” take place an undisclosed amount of time after the events of “It Lives Again,” after a number of more sinister baby monsters are born. The story starts with a trial to determine what to do with the apprehended baby monsters, during which it is decided that they will be placed in isolation on an island. Some time later, a team of hunters is hired by a drug company to kill all of the babies, in order to erase any proof tying one of their drugs to the monstrous mutation.
“It’s Alive 3” was filmed on location in Hawaii, despite the story theoretically being set in the Caribbean.
The opening sequence of “It’s Alive 3” was used in the 1988 movie “The Dead Pool” starring Clint Eastwood, as an example of the film work of a murdered fictitious b-movie director played by Liam Neeson.
“It’s Alive 3” was given a limited theatrical release, but I wasn’t able to dig up any information in regards to its budget or finances. However, the reception certainly wasn’t positive: it currently holds a 4.5 rating on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 50% (critics) and 15% (audience).
Many saw “It’s Alive 3” as milking the very last drop out of the “It’s Alive” franchise, seeing it as a purely profit motivated production. This is obviously not entirely untrue, but I think it caused some unreasonable hostility towards the film’s existence.
Michael Moriarty, as always, is fantastic. He delivers another memorable performance, as he always seems to do when working with Larry Cohen. I’m a bigger fan of his character in “The Stuff,” but his portrayal in “It’s Alive 3” is certainly an interesting one, and is probably the best reason for checking out the film.
“It’s Alive 3” is without a doubt more overtly humorous than “It Lives Again” and “It’s Alive,” which didn’t exactly resonate with many fans of the franchise. However, above all, this movie is fun by design. That’s not a bad thing if you ask me, but it is certainly a departure from the earlier movies. It also follows up the story and consequences of the first two films very well, and does fit with the trilogy thematically in my opinion.
Something I absolutely did not expect was the revelation that the baby monsters have telepathic powers, which seems to come totally out of left field. It isn’t totally if they develop the skill over time, or if they always had mind powers in the previous movies.
There are a few moments in “It’s Alive 3” where stop motion is used to portray the baby monsters, which looks absolutely awful. The movie notably doesn’t try to hid or obscure the babies, instead choosing to keep them out in the open. I actually don’t have as much of a problem with this, given the entire foundation of the story is about the babies being normalized and exposed to society, and ultimately rejected. That said, they certainly don’t look very good, but that somewhat adds to the comedic element of the film.
A lot of reviews compare “It’s Alive 3” to “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” which I find kind of hilarious, because the two films are astoundingly similar. The babies are left to roam free on an isolated island, a corporation tries to exploit them for their own benefit, a secret team is sent to the island covertly, and the monsters ultimately escape to the mainland. They were even both filmed primarily on the same island. I will say, I kind of wish Jeff Goldblum and Michael Moriarty could have been in both movies, because the combo would have improved both pictures drastically.
Overall, “It’s Alive 3” is the black sheep of the franchise without any doubt. However, it is a damn fun movie, and I recommend it highly for anyone looking for a good bad watch. Moriarty is gold, the babies are ridiculous, the plot is outlandish, and there are plenty of great horror movie deaths to enjoy. As much as I like the first two, I definitely have a soft spot for the ridiculousness of “It’s Alive 3.”