Within seconds of watching It Lives Again, which also goes by the name It's Alive 2, I was hooked in a way that surprised me; I was convinced that the music for the film was by Bernard Hermann, because of how moved I was by the score as the credits opened, with its shades of Taxi Driver and Vertigo.
As it turned out, the score was by Bernard Hermann, and it should be fascinating that a composer who created the sounds for Taxi Driver, should opt to choose as his next project something as obscure and pointless as this – It Lives Again (1978); subtitled It’s Alive 2. Come on — make up your mind!
First, let me say that none of the fun of It’s Alive is present here; by which I am including the thick and fast Frankenstein references; suggestive social commentary on the use of Thalidomide, fertility and pesticide drugs on people; and the stupidity levels of the mayhem. No, this is much more boring, despite Eddie Constantine.
Frederic Forest (whom you will have enjoyed in Falling Down as the memorable Nick The Nazi Surplus Store Owner) is the star here, and not bad; although as an actor he clearly can’t break out of the badness of It Lives Again.
"They'll kill all the babies for this - it mustn't happen - it mustn't happen!"
There will have to be good reasons why the composer of Psycho, The Birds and Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 should appear in the credits for something as poor as It’s Alive II. Perhaps we should know more about the various uses of creative talent in the American movie industry, and particularly the way in which certain types of artist, musicians in particular, can go on working long after they are dead. In this case it really pays; because the music is so good, it’s like finding some caviar or an oyster in your Burger King meal.
The thing is, in tracking down reviews of this film I have read nothing kind about it, which is perhaps not fair. Competence cannot be overlooked (despite some incompetent sound and boom work in the film, and its obvious dramatic failures) but I say, let Bernhard Hermann (even though he was four years dead when this was made) be lauded and applauded high.
The evil puppets used so minimally in It Lives Again are 100% disappointing, but at least they are never seen long enough to be exposed for the cheap crap horror props that they are, but it’s not them either that damn the film. If there is anything to damn this film, it is the focus puller – I imagine there was not one employed – Eddie Constantine, as a supporting actor is often half out of shot or worse still, not even in focus when he is supposed to be playing a role.
“Now that you’ve killed it, you can all go home.”
Eddie Constantine also podges about quite a lot, as if acting to a camera that might be in the next room, or else far away. If Constantine had read the script, he didn’t understand it, and why should he, with such a poor role? I would have liked to see him feeling more at home in this movie, but he was always a bit of a wanderer, was Eddie Constantine. Personally, in directing this though, I would have gone for more Eddie, more puppets, less story and more death. Same music obviously and sober camera crew.
I think John P. Ryan (1936–2007) who was in the original It’s Alive is good here, almost looking like Dennis Hoppper, which is a great start; but for me It’s Alive 2 is simply one of many Eddie Constantine WTF moments.