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It's Alive III: Island of the Alive

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It's Alive III: Island of the Alive
It's Alive III Island of the Alive poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLarry Cohen
Produced byPaul Stader
Written byLarry Cohen
StarringMichael Moriarty
Karen Black
Laurene Landon
James Dixon
Gerrit Graham
Macdonald Carey
Neal Israel
Music byLaurie Johnson
CinematographyDaniel Pearl
Edited byDavid Kern
Larco Productions
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • May 1987 (1987-05)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States

It's Alive III: Island of the Alive is a 1987 American horror film written and directed by Larry Cohen. It is the sequel to the 1978 film It Lives Again. The film stars Michael Moriarty, Karen Black, Laurene Landon, James Dixon, Gerrit Graham, Macdonald Carey and Neal Israel. The film was released by Warner Bros. in May 1987.[1][2]


The film is set several years after the events of the first two films. The movie begins with a woman going into labor in a cab on a rainy night. Panicked, the cab driver seeks out a police officer to assist in the birth before going to search for a public phone to call an ambulance. While he is away the woman gives birth to a mutant baby. Recognizing it as a mutant child like the ones from the prior films, the officer tries to shoot and kill the infant, who reacts by killing the officer and mother. The following day the mutant baby's corpse is found inside of a Catholic church, where it dragged itself to die.

The film then cuts to a courtroom, where Jarvis (Michael Moriarty) is pleading for the court to spare the life of his mutant son, who he argues is acting aggressively because it is reacting to the hostility of the people and chaos surrounding him. The baby breaks out of the cage but is placated by Jarvis, which convinces the judge to spare the child and four others like him by quarantining them on a remote deserted island. After the trial Jarvis is treated like a social pariah, as he is unable to work his former acting job and the child's mother Ellen (Karen Black) only wants to live her own life without him, as if she had never given birth. This eventually leads to Jarvis becoming extremely bitter, as he is unable to pay his legal fees and women want nothing to do with him, afraid that he will pass along the mutation through casual touch. Aware that the babies are still alive and that the mutations were a side effect of a medication his pharmaceutical company produced, Cabot (William Watson) and some of his associates travel to the island to kill them in order to manufacture the drug under a new label, only for the entire party to be killed and eaten by the mutant babies.

Five years after the babies are left on the island Jarvis is approached by Lieutenant Perkins (James Dixon), who tells him that he has been recruited by Dr. Swenson (Art Lund) to launch an expedition to the island to study the babies' growth and that he wants Jarvis to accompany them. The expedition proves to be disastrous, as all but Jarvis and Perkins are left alive - Perkins has been deserted on the island while Jarvis remains on the boat as their captive, as the mutants want to travel to Cape Vale, Florida. While traveling Jarvis realizes that the babies grew quickly and have reached adulthood, as one of them has given birth to a baby. It is implied that Jarvis' son is the father of this child. Jarvis also realizes that the mutants communicate with each other telepathically and that the only reason he is still alive is because of the existence of the bodies of the ship's sailing crew and because his son has been protecting him. He also realizes that the children are traveling in order to find Ellen. Eventually their ship comes across another vessel, at which point Jarvis' son throws his father overboard in order to save his life, expecting that the ship will pick him up.

When Jarvis awakens he finds himself held captive in Cuba, but manages to convince his captors of his identity and that the mutant children pose a danger to those around them. He also manages to get them to take him back home. Meanwhile the children have arrived in the United States, where they promptly kill several people who appear to be a threat to either them or Ellen while also defending a woman being attacked by a gang of punks. Ultimately both Jarvis and the mutants find Ellen, upon which point the mutants try to get her to take the child. Initially reluctant, Ellen accepts the child after Jarvis convinces that the mutants looked for her out of love for their child, as they were dying of measles and would be unable to care for the child, and because they strongly instinctually associated her with motherhood. The two accept the child just as its parents die from measles while the final remaining adult mutant distracts the police, allowing Jarvis and Ellen to escape. The film ends with the two of them driving away together with the child in search of a safe place to raise it.



Larry Cohen later said the film began when he went to Warner Bros with Andre De Toth and pitched them the idea of remaking House of Wax (1953). Warner was not interested. However the studio wanted Cohen to make a film for their video division. Cohen was only willing to do this if Warner would pay for two films, to be shot back-to-back. Warner agreed. The two films were sequels to It's Alive and Salem's Lot; both had built-in name recognition ideal for the straight-to-video market.[3]

It was Cohen's third It's Alive film.

I thought if I was going to make a third movie, I had to follow this story through to some kind of new and satisfying resolution. So, I asked myself some questions: what are these babies like as adults? What is the monster going to look like when it physically develops and ages? I thought those were important questions to answer and deal with. Otherwise, there was no point in making the movie if I was just going to have a load of monster babies running around again, killing people. The second film was, to a degree, different from the first because the protagonists were trying to save the monsters. In the third film, we got all of the monster birth stuff out of the way in the prologue and gave the audience their horror. The rest of the movie was more of an exploration of Jarvis’ character and the progress of the monster children. I thought that differentiation from the events of the previous pictures made Island of the Alive a worthwhile project.[4]

Cohen says the theme of the film were encapsulated in one of the opening scenes, where Michael Moriarty's character argues for his son's existence. Cohen:

That scene was really what this film was about: whether or not society was going to permit these creatures to live or if it would destroy them. Such an important question would have to be decided by a jury’s prudence and so the idea of beginning our story with a courtroom trial made perfect sense to me. I liked the idea of commencing the film with a direct moral question. I thought it was a legitimate and challenging opening as the monsters’ very existence was at stake. The monsters are eventually removed from society and quarantined on an island where they will come of age in isolation. In that regard, Island of the Alive is different from It’s Alive and It Lives Again, as I wanted to try something that had a contrasting tone and thrust to the whole story. You’ll no doubt notice that there is much more humour in the third film than in the previous two pictures.[5]

The film was filmed on location in Kauai, Hawaii.

James Dixon reprises his role as Lieutenant Perkins from the previous two films in this It's Alive film series. His character is the only one that appears in all three films. Others, like Frank Davis and Eugene Scott, were just mentioned in the film.

It was Larry Cohen's third film with Michael Moriarty. The director deliberately encouraged his star to play the role in an eccentric manner. Cohen:

I always like to make use of Moriarty’s bravery and his willingness to give a way-out, individualistic performance. Your average actor will just give you a straightdown-the-line performance, but Moriarty takes big chances. You’ll find that when you are adventurous as an actor and take big chances, you often get good results... Moriarty is not the kind of actor who needs to dress up to inhabit a character. He has such great instincts and abilities, it just all comes out. I thought the character of Jarvis in Island of the Alive and Moriarty’s performance was terrific. He had a controlled insanity about him, but that character is not without humanity and courage. The way Jarvis comes out and makes fun of himself, and everybody else around him, makes the entire situation seem insane. Obviously, in reality, it would be an insane situation if you and your wife had given birth to this monster child.[6]


The film was released on home video on 31 August 1994.[7]


  1. ^ "It's Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987) - Overview". Retrieved 2015-04-22.
  2. ^ "It-s-Alive-III-Island-of-the-Alive - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes". Retrieved 2015-04-22.
  3. ^ Doyle p 372
  4. ^ Doyle p 386
  5. ^ Doyle p 378
  6. ^ Doyle p 380
  7. ^ "It's Alive 3: Island of the Alive". Retrieved 5 December 2016
  • Doyle, Michael (31 October 2015). Larry Cohen: The Stuff of Gods and Monsters. Bear Manor Media.

External links

This page was last edited on 30 March 2019, at 03:12
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