ITS ALIVE III: ISLAND OF THE ALIVE
Larry Cohens quirky, offbeat sense of humour and remarkable reversals of sympathy for his monsters still serve well a third time around. The pre-credits sequence offers an amusing take on the old cliché of the taxi driver having to deliver a baby in the back of the cab. The first scene is an excellent courtroom debate where sleazy lawyer Gerrit Graham tries to manipulate father Michael Moriarty into being scared of his baby so as to prove his point that the babies are inhumane, only for Moriarty to defy him, approach the baby, the baby to get loose and for Moriarty to then make a heartfelt plea persuading the judge that the babies should be spared. Michael Moriarty proved to be Larry Cohens ace in the hole upon several occasions, delivering standout performances in both Q and The Stuff. He clearly has a good deal of fun again here, illuminating a number of the early scenes with his dry, sarcastic wit the aforementioned courtroom sequence, which holds a remarkable degree of persuasiveness; the party scene where Cohen sarcastically carps at celebrity exploitation; and an amusing scene where he is forced to take a job as a shoe salesman.
After a good start and being propelled through the first few scenes in no small part due to Michael Moriarty, Island of the Alive starts to go downhill. Some of Larry Cohens films give the appearances of having been rushed, with scenes missing or the script not fully worked out before shooting began. Certainly, Island of the Alive appears better budgeted in comparison to some of Cohens other films allowing him, for one, to provide some stop-motion animated babies this time around. The film also feels like a hodgepodge of scenes that are all over the place an earlier visit to the island with a hunter and his party being slaughtered by the babies that is unrelated to anything else that happens, a side-trip to Cuba, and the scenes of Karen Black squabbling with her boyfriend. Laurene Landon, for instance, is third-billed on the credits, yet only appears in two scenes as a woman who picks Michael Moriarty up at a fairground carnival before realizing that she is about to sleep with the notorious mutant baby father.
Worst is the fact that Larry Cohen allows Michael Moriarty his head in a number of self-indulgent scenes that should have ended up on the cutting room floor. Despite starting well, it is a totally lunatic performance that Moriarty eventually gives singing sea shanties, wandering about the island talking to himself, and needling and sexually harassing a woman scientist who feels uncomfortable being there and one where Cohen clearly felt too enamoured of his collaborator to reign him in.
Island of the Alive has a slapdash feel to it there is not the cleanness of ideas and metaphor that there was in the preceding two films. Cohen certainly throws in some interesting ideas during the return from the island of the babies having reached adulthood and now having bred amongst themselves, of their being telepathic but these are not given the time they needed. The ending returns to the same parenthood uber alles theme of the original, although this has lesser potency a second time around.
Island of the Alive was the last of Cohens It's Alive trilogy, although the series was revived two decades later with Its Alive (2008), a remake of the original.
Film online in several parts beginning here:-