‘It’s Alive’ (1969)
“Trapped In a Cave of Terror!”
‘It’s Alive’ (1969)
Director: Larry Buchanan
Cast: Tommy Kirk, Shirley Bonne, Bill Thurman
Synopsis: A crazed farmer kidnaps three people to feed to a prehistoric monster he has found in a cave on his land.
Larry Buchanan belongs to a select group of filmmakers who have carved a placed in cinematic history by virtue of their sheer ineptitude. He makes films like a man who has never actually seen a film or knows how one is constructed. It’s Alive – one of a clutch of movies he was commissioned to make by AIP – is a prime example of the kind of rubbish he churned out, and should be avoided by anyone who values their sanity.
Shirley Bonne and Corveth Ousterhouse play a bickering couple who find themselves at the mercy of crackpot farmer Greeley (Bill Thurman – The Last Picture Show) when they run out of gas in the Ozarks. Greeley tricks them into exploring a cave in which he has constructed a cage. Once he has them locked inside, it’s only a matter of time before the prehistoric lizard who lives in the cave grows peckish. Luckily for Bonne (sadly for Ousterhouse, he’s first on the menu) friendly palaeontologist Tommy Kirk (The Absent-Minded Professor) is on hand to help her escape.
It’s difficult to know where to begin to describe the true awfulness of ‘It’s Alive’, simply because it has absolutely no redeeming features. It has a typical 1950s b-movie plot, but finds it so difficult to fill out its thankfully brief running time that about fifteen minutes is devoted to a flashback in which mad Greeley’s housekeeper recalls how she was captured and forced into a life of servitude by him (‘He beat me,’ she querulously remembers. ‘I had become one of his… animals.’). The monster is a guy in a rubber suit with fangs and ping-pong balls for eyes. Even a barely adequate director would have realised such a shoddy monster required the use of lightning-fast cut-aways in order to diminish its comical potential, but Buchanan presents us with lengthy head shots so that we can examine its awfulness in detail.
I mean, really: what did we ever do to him?
(Reviewed 15th March 2012)