Search results for 'alive'

It’s Alive 2: It Lives Again (1978) – or livewithfilm becomes trapped in the horror sequels of 1978.

7 Feb

Snowed in and with a phalanx of DVDs to demolish, Livewithfilm once again gifted itself a horror sequel treat. Inadvertently discovering that the recently blogged Jaws II was released at the same time as Larry Cohen’s killer baby ‘romp’, livewithfilm found itself in a neat position to compare the pair. Both It’s Alive 2 and the return of Captain Brody set dramatically different paths for their franchises; whilst people will always run into the gaping maw of a great white shark, Cohen sees his sequel populated by characters very much ‘in the know’. Although films about killer sea beasts admittedly could never succeed if progressive instalments saw protagonists set resolutely on dry land, It’s Alive 2 remains very distinct from many other horror franchises in this respect. The many instalments of Halloween, Friday the 13th and, to a lesser extent, the Nightmare on Elm Street series pit their killers against waves of naïve nubile victims, with often little gained in franchise wide plot arches. Yet Cohen’s second offering continues an interesting story, allowing sub-textual elements to develop in a similar manner to George A. Romero’s Dead series.

Frank Davis (John Ryan), the father of the original homicidal infant, travels across the country to warn prospective parents … (Kathleen Lloyd) and … (Frederic Forrest) that their unborn child will follow in his own son’s little footsteps. Knowing that their baby will be killed on sight by a terrified police service, … and … travel with John to a safehouse, where their child will join other similar newborns. But when scientists place too must faith in the morality of these young creatures, their test subjects break free to enact the fanged destruction of all around them.

Possibly over zealously searching for a forgotten gem, livewithfilm began It’s Alive 2 in a state of positive enthrallment. The plot is neatly developed and allows for the smouldering John Ryan to return to once again expose the reactionary evil of humanity. Cohen’s film even begins to set itself up as a truly subversive piece, the horror emerging from an omnipresent threat that the forces of law exert over the infants. Yet the second act of It’s Alive 2 sees the film corrupted by it’s eagerness to conform to horrific archetypes. As killer babies chomp their way through the supporting cast, Cohen’s interesting set up begins to fail. When the formerly heartless detectives become the saviours of the human race, the infants return to their monstrous status and the film unfortunately loses its rebellious edge. Nevertheless, It’s Alive 2 remains an entertaining, if formulaic, monster follow-up.

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It’s Alive (1973)

6 Dec

Mon Dieu! As livewithfilm is sure that you’re aware, today’s film is not the second part of the French gangster flick Mesrine as previously promised. Battling to get back on the filmic trail, livewithfilm surprisingly felt little enthusiasm about watching the latter antics of the flashy bank robber. Unfortunately apathetic, livewithfilm decided to make a tactical decision regarding the blogosphere. Pure entertainment must prevail if the blog is to continue. Whilst Mesrine: Killer Instinct (Part One) was enjoyably tense, cheap thrills were on the cards today instead.

Larry Cohen’s It’s Alive supposes that the wealth of chemicals and drugs that saturate the modern world (well, 1973 at least) hold disastrous ramifications for our young. Parents Frank (John Ryan) and Lenore Davis (Sharon Farrell) await the birth of their second child in their sleepy local hospital. However, when gored doctors begin to stagger from the labour room and police replace surgical tape with a security cordon, Frank begins to think the worst. Having slaughtered the surgical team that has assisted in his birth, theDavis baby escapes to begin a bloody killing spree. Repulsed, Frank pursues, intent on enacting his son’s destruction. Yet when Frank begins to question the law forces that hunt his fanged spawn, he warms to the child and realises the greater evil that he is a part of.

A trashy treat, Cohen’s film is a creature feature that contributes buckets of fake blood to the paedophobic nightmare of Rosemary’s Baby (1968). But this isn’t the Devil’s work; we have bought this upon ourselves (cue livewithfilm frantically recycling to avoid being devoured by a toothed infant). The Davis baby tears holes in the establishment, exposing the cruelty and manipulation that lies within. When Frank recognises the link between his son and the misjudged Frankenstein’s Monster, his change of heart exposes the child as downtrodden victim. Yet Cohen keeps It’s Alive distant from preaching, a territory the film could have easily slipped into whilst portraying the after effects of pollution and moral failure. Instead the tongue is firmly in the creepy cheek. Any horror in which the town’s police force question whether a monstrous baby will ‘double back on itself’ to fox the authorities, is suitably aware of its eccentricities. It’s Alive has lost some of its shock value with age; munched milkmen and bright daubs of red remain darkly funny with little arising to make skin crawl. Nevertheless livewithfilm thoroughly enjoyed this piece of genre fun. Perhaps this is a trilogy that will turn out to be more enthralling.

Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) or livewithfilm goes back to what it knows best…

8 Nov

Yes livewithfilm has returned to its roots: an 80s horror sequel. Could the third coming of Freddy Krueger compare favourably to the recurring wonders of the It’s Alive series or the ever diminishing rubber-toothed returns of Jaws II or IV: The Revenge? Whatever happened, livewithfilm could be safe in the knowledge that Michael Caine thankfully wouldn’t turn up sporting a floppy afro.

Chuck Russell’s sub-par entry into the Elm Street franchise amps up the gore yet unwittingly sheds it horrific origins, resulting in an imaginative yet ridiculous film. Relying heavily on earlier instalments for narrative clarity, Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors wavers between clunky exposition and unexplained madness as a host of new teens come to a sticky end thanks to dream-bound Freddy Kreuger. No explanation is given as children in a psychiatric hospital begin to fall prey to the knife gloved maniac, Dream Warriors happily expecting audiences to be clued up to the Nightmare formula. That is until Heather Langenkamp arrives, reprising her role as the original Nightmare’sNancy and shoehorning explanation in at every opportunity. Now a dream specialist, Nancy works with the children to battle Kreuger and manipulate their dreams.

Following Wes Craven’s supreme original, the Nightmare series relies upon its lucid concept to churn out ingenious murder sequences. Thankfully omitting a return to the shower set death-by-towel-whipping witnessed in Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, Dream Warriors pushes new boundaries to slaughter its young cast. Yet while relentlessly inventive and disgusting (death by puppet veins?!), the kills disappointingly provoke few scares. Nevertheless, Russell’s intriguing attempts to maintain Craven’s original theme of American youngsters paying for the crimes of their forebears suggests deeper thinking at play. Similar to the ramifications of Vietnam alluded to in the first Nightmare, Dream Warriors now blames the youngsters’ dreams on the drug taking decadence of their parents. At points entertaining, Dream Warriors struggles to maintain the original excitement of Nightmare. Memorable for brief glimpses of imagination, the film remains a scare-free and decidedly non-nightmarish return for Kreuger.

Senna (2011)

20 Feb

In a bid to escape from the (unfortunately enjoyable) clawed clutches of eighties horror sequels, livewithfilm decided to make its return to blogging with an acclaimed modern documentary. As far a cry from It’s Alive II: It Lives Again as this film-fan could envision, Senna has remained an exciting prospect for some time. Even though livewithfilm tries to steer clear of qualifying films purely on their respective nods from various awards ceremonies, Senna arrives with great stock, having recently nabbed awards for best editing and documentary at the BAFTAs. On the subject of the British awards, an event traditionally recognised as a celebration of home-grown cinema, there were some glaring omissions in this year’s nominations. That Lynne Ramsey’s We Need to Talk About Kevin has been omitted from the majority of Oscar categories is one thing, but the snubbing of Ramsey by BAFTA seems highly unfortunate. Just when the British film industry is searching for interesting directors to bridge the gap between art and commercialism, to leave Ramsay without recognition seems a poor move.

Rant over, back to Senna! Asif Kapadia’s documentary charts the rise and ultimate downfall of Brazillian F1 driver Ayrton Senna. Following him through his three world championship wins, Senna also focuses on the driver’s personal battles. Confronting the political hierarchy of the sport and fellow driver Alain Proust, Aryton Senna has become revered as a fearless and unprecedented racing talent.

From the outset, Livewithfilm will admit that it cannot abide motor racing. Therefore, perhaps the greatest strength of Kapadia’s film was that such an inhibition was lost on the first lap. That the abiding focus remained on the intriguing and charismatic figure of Ayrton Senna rather than the sport in which he competed meant that the documentary was able to rise above such associations. The collection of material is undoubtedly impressive, the dedicated editorial work of Kapadia intricately piecing together expansive reams of footage to create a definitive exploration of the period. Yet all technical fluency aside, Senna unfortunately remains somewhat of a passé piece of documentary filmmaking. Whilst the warmth exuded by Ayrton is conveyed with great passion, livewithfilm remained consistently interested rather than fascinated. Often playing rather like a television film, the documentary falters when it comes to qualifying its existence as a piece of theatrical exposé. When compared with contemporary successes such as Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Grizzly Man or Cave of Forgotten Dreams, the lack of purpose in Kapadia’s film becomes most evident. Yes Ayrton was a talented and generous individual but does this qualify a feature length investigation, especially in a media dependant age in which his life has already been played out to many million strong television audiences.

Contagion (2011)

9 Jan

There is a limit to how enjoyable a film can be on a plane. Whilst livewithfilm would never grumble about the prospect of international travel, tiny screens and blasts of sunlight from nearby windows do not lend themselves to immersive viewing. Boarding the livewithfilm jet, this blogger was pleasantly surprised to find a wide range of recent films that it had missed (presumably whilst choosing to take in the much dated It’s Alive instead). Excited about the prospect of many contemporary additions to the blog, livewithfilm readied itself for the journey-come-filmic-marathon ahead. Yet if there’s one picture guaranteed to spook in such a contained space, Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion was that film.

As soon as global traveller Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns from a trip to Hong Kongshe falls fatally ill. The recently widowed Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon) must contain his emotions as his son swiftly succumbs to the same mystery disease. Puzzled by his supposed immunity, Mitch struggles to protect his daughter as the same infection that felled half his family becomes a worldwide epidemic. Working at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) begins to work on the containment issues surrounding the breakout. As the death count begins to spiral, Cheever hires Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet) to investigate the virus. Allen (Jude Law), a militant blogger intent on uncovering a conspiracy surrounding the missing cure, begins to receive a great number of hits on his website when he names a supposedly successful treatment. Simultaneously, Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard) of the World Health Organisation follows the movements of original patient Beth toHong Kong.

Soderberg’s film is undoubtedly a B movie idea, performed by a cast with A list pretentions. Contagion is a revolt of nature, a disaster movie set to convince the audience that we are resigned to a grim demise predestined by our modern existences. Realistically, livewithfilm would never have encountered Contagion if it were not for Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968); the pair of films both see humanity reduced a race of ‘the wandering contagious’, naïve to their infectiousness, whilst a shady power attempts to obscure responsibility. Contagion is just as tense as the 60s shocker, tracking the disease from person to person with an intimidating indifference. The epic scale of the epidemic is deftly mastered by Soderberg, recalling the desolate Americana of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men (2006). However, the numerous characters in Soderberg’s film often feel distant; disparate stories mean that each protagonist has little time to earn the empathy they require. Nevertheless, to feel the full impact of Contagion, livewithfilm had to simply measure the distance it leapt when a fellow traveller sneezed.