The Sun Always Sets – It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987)

Filmed years after the last movie and taking place many years later within, Larry Cohen returns to his franchise of mutant children in this final instalment entitled Island of the Alive.

When the film begins, it would seem that there are still a few mutant births taking place throughout the country and one of those belongs to Jarvis as played by Michael Moriarty, a man fighting for his child in court. The state wants to see these children destroyed, Jarvis does not and though in a sense he wins the case in the end, he also loses. Jarvis’ child along with a few others, are then taken to an island which is uninhabited and it is there that they will either survive or die. Cut to five years and a few deaths later and Jarvis finds himself on the island along with some men who want to study the ongoing evolution of the children. It does not go well and while Jarvis manages to escape, he only does so because his son protects him from the other, now grown babies. The creatures want off the island and while it is not readily apparent, come the end of the film, Jarvis realises that it was due to the fact that they were dying and wanted to protect their own child which they could no longer do.

Cohen takes a giant leap forward from the last two films in more ways than one and this movie finally shows what happens to these children if they are allowed to live without interference. Though the ending was a sad one, it was also left open for further sequels which would never manifest and perhaps that is a good thing, for while the movie was quite enjoyable, the series had run its course and there was little else to explore should it have moved forward. What this film does manage to show is that aside from the killing and the disfigurements that each of the babies sport, they are thinking and feeling creatures, much like any other human being and while that realisation is made; it comes too late for most of them.

Moriarty does a great job as he normally does, the man always being quite expressive in his roles and he holds the lead firmly in his grasp, carrying the film from one scene to the next. Karen Black makes a minor appearance as his wife and aside from that, most of the cast were merely bit players caught up in Jarvis’ drama.

Though the film might be classified as a horror, there was not all that much to be frightened of in this particular chapter, perhaps because it had all been seen before and while the stop-motion effects were good at times, the adult creatures were simply not scary in the slightest. The real horror, as shown in many a horror film, was the inability of mankind to see below the surface and Cohen did a great job of conveying that on more than one occasion.

For a sequel, Island of the Alive was good, but it was also nice to know that nothing would follow afterwards, closing the book on what had started out as a shocking experience thirteen years previous.

3 out of 5

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