When I saw that "It's Alive" was scheduled for a late night broadcast, I set the DVR, expecting to enjoy the 1974 "monster baby" B-movie of the same name. Initially I was annoyed to see that what I had recorded was a different flick, but if you like bad sci-fi, it turns out that this one has its own low-budget charms.
From the super-cheap look of the opening minutes, I fully expected to be amused by the appearance of creature, and was not disappointed. They really outdid themselves on this one; I've seen scarier (although similar) piñatas. Although it was clearly just a guy in a really bad monster suit --we're talking "Creature From the Haunted Sea" caliber here-- one split screen shot and a single line of dialogue reveal that the monster was apparently some 40 to 50 feet tall. Must be pretty cramped down in that cave. (Bad as it was though, to his penny-pinching credit, director Larry Buchanan was actually re-using the costume from his earlier movie "Creature of Destruction." The effects budgets of TWO movies to work with, and it still looks like an ill-tempered oriental goldfish... THAT's cheap!)
Buchanan (who I read has made several movies of the same dubious quality) also made the most of his meager casting budget. Has-been Tommy Kirk, several years after his role as the middle brother of the "Swiss Family Robinson," must have been getting pretty desperate by the time his agent dropped this steaming pile on his desk eight years later. He plugs along bravely as Wayne the paleontologist, and displays what could almost be called acting, although a gunshot wound he suffers is eventually either forgotten or ignored by the writer.
If Corveth Ousterhouse's very name doesn't make you want to slap him, his performance as monster snack #1 sure will. His character, Norman Sterns, is an unrelenting jackass from the first scene to his last, and no one (even his wife) seems too upset when he gets gobbled up by the "masasaurus." Wisely, Ousterouse decided to give up acting after this, his only film.
Speaking of the wife, Shirley Bonne stars as Mrs. Stern, who is so torn up by his getting eaten that one day after his death she is already laughing and making jokes about becoming a paleontologist's wife. "How terrible that Norman was killed by the creature. So tell me, Wayne, are you single?" Sharp-eyed Star Trek fans will recognize Bonne as Captain Kirk's past girlfriend "Ruth" from the 1966 Star Trek episode "Shore Leave." It's nice she got some lines this time; better if she learned to say them.
Annabelle Weenick (understandably, she changed her name to MacAdams for this film) a veteran of Buchanan's "In the Year 2889," plays Bella, a backwoods sufferer of Stockholm Syndrome. The most accidentally-hilarious scenes of the whole movie involve her brainwashing. As long as they were stretching for time, it would have been nice if they could have worked in at least one more example of the mind games her captor played; one mouse on a plate and a whistle in the face, and she's ready to be an accomplice to occasional kidnapping and murder.
This brings us to the real star of the show, another veteran of Buchanan schlock: Bill Thurman in a dual role (there's that pesky budget again!) as both Greely, and Greely's reptilian monster. Perpetually perspiring, he gleefully hams his way through almost every scene, whether locking up unwary tourists for the creature's rare dinner, discussing his thoughts on the food chain and the circle of life, or devising new tortures for poor Bella before skipping away giggling.
This movie was made for TV, and the minimum running time mandated by that constraint really shows. Although clocking in at only 85 minutes, probably a quarter of the time is comprised of interminable scenes of winding roads, winding caverns, or winding exposition. Still, if you like B-movies (maybe a C-minus would be more accurate) and have the fast-forward button ready, "It's Alive" can be a fun way to kill an hour or so.
Review by NavyOrion from the Internet Movie Database.