With It’s Alive, Larry Cohen created a taut and suspenseful thriller packed with moments of pure horror, one that would go on to blame the machinations of government and industry in affecting pregnant mothers and creating mutant children. It would end with a promise of more and so Cohen does indeed continue on and returns with It Lives Again and it picks up some time after where these mutant births have been happening more often and where Frank Davis has become a saviour-like figure to the parents of these children.
Also returning in this second film is John P. Ryan who stars as Davis and he is joined by Frederic Forrest as Eugene Scott and Kathleen Lloyd as Jody. Eugene and Jody are expecting and when Frank shows up, almost seeming paranoid in his talk of mutant births and how the two of them have been under surveillance from the authorities when it was realised that Jody’s baby seemed abnormally large, they obviously doubt him. From there, it all comes true and is now a race against the clock to keep that baby out of the government’s hands which leads to a showdown between Frank and those out to kill the child. Eventually, when it all seems safe and things have calmed down, the child born to Eugene and Jody, along with two other monster children, break free from and start killing, once again making for a very thrilling and suspenseful, though somewhat repetitious film.
While there was little innovation done to differentiate this movie from the last, Cohen does introduce this clandestine group of people who are looking to save these children from the finality of the government’s solution to what they foresee as a problem. Sure, the kids have killed a lot of people among them, but perhaps the conditions were not right in their births or those moments after and the proper precautions not taken. That is where Frank and his colleagues come in, to try and understand just what the arrival of these mutant children mean and to stop the wholesale termination of them before that can happen. Perhaps the most interesting moment of it all is the very final scene of the film where Eugene, having lost his baby, now takes the place of Frank who was eventually killed, warning other couples and offering help, coming full circle.
Though the movie was highly enjoyable, there were no advancements in the special effects either and the babies when shown on-screen were not as effective as they were when only hinted at like in the first film, or when they were doing their killing off-screen. Sometimes not showing something is a far more effective at conveying horror than showing it and Cohen should have done so here, or at the very least, minimised the time spent in front of the audience.
All in all though, It Lives Again is a good film and a worthy follow-up to the original.
3 out of 5