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John’s Horror Corner: It’s Alive II: It Lives Again (1978), the dawn of the mutant monster baby epidemic.

March 5, 2019

MY CALL: Entertaining and there’s certainly effort behind it, but lacking the emotional impact and powerful allegory of It’s Alive (1974). MOVIES LIKE It’s Alive: We assume you’ve already It’s Alive (1974). So for more pregnancy/baby horror, try Rosemary’s Baby (1968), The Unborn (1991), The Unborn II (1994), Grace (2009), The Night Feeder (1988), It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987), the remake of It’s Alive (2009), Inside (2016), Inside (2007), Still/Born (2017) and Good Manners (2017; As Boas Maneiras).

Part 1 left the door wide open for a sequel: “Another one’s been born in Seattle.”

Eugene (Frederic Forrest; Trauma) and Jody Scott (Kathleen Lloyd; The Car) are expecting, and Frank Davis (John P. Ryan; Class of 1999, It’s Alive) crashes their baby shower with grave news about their unborn child. Wanting to help them protect their atypical child, Frank recounts the events of the original movie (It’s Alive) and warns the Scotts that specialized teams have been killing monstrous babies at birth across the nation.

With the help of Dr. Perry (Andrew Duggan; It’s Alive, A Return to Salem’s Lot, Frankenstein Island), Frank heists the Scotts’ baby to a safehouse facility where Dr. Perry has been studying and caring for other such monstrous babies. Meanwhile, because of his experience with the Davis baby, Lt. Perkins (James Dixon; It’s Alive, The Stuff, Maniac Cop 1-2) is assigned the new Scott baby case.

The special effects haven’t come very far since 1974. The babies are rubber dolls (some puppeted clawed hands) and their faces look just as they did in the original. They behave like predecessors to Gremlins (1984) or Ghoulies (1985) or even Critters (1986), as rigid rubber monsters are held by the actors to their necks as they thrash back and forth as if being ravaged and overpowered by the diminutive aberrations.

This sequel feels less like a horror movie and more like a medical Sci-Fi thriller. The first half boasts minimal blood or violence and just one baby attack that pales to anything in part 1 (e.g., the bloody operating room scene). Of course, later in the film these mutant babies will start to get out of hand. But the attacks, violence and blood remain no more spectacular than this film’s PG-rated predecessor despite this sequel being rated R (for reasons I cannot begin to explain). Even the “scares” and suspense feel minimal compared to the drama enacted by the Scott couple and Frank Davis.

This sequel lacks the powerful allegory of Larry Cohen’s (It’s Alive, Q, A Return to Salem’s Lot) 1974 classic. Instead we continue to reinforce that the fear of parenthood is the greatest enemy of parenthood. Exactly as the original, the only thing scary in this film is the premise and none of the execution packs any impact until the emotional revelations in the end.

This movie is serviceably entertaining and broadens the theme left tangling at the end of part 1. However, it is not worthy of the reverence of It’s Alive (1974).

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