Them babies are NUTS!

It's Alive

Director: Larry Cohen

USA - 1974

   Hoff! Hoff! Hoff! 


When you go to try to"I haven't a Crazy Baby care in the world!" pick out a good and proper Crazy Baby movie, how do you choose? I mean, there’s no such thing as Too Much Crazy Baby, but what qualifies as Too Little? Addams Family Values has a crazy baby, but he’s fairly overshadowed by Raoul Julia. The Omen concerns the baby, but Evil isn’t really Crazy, and the baby doesn’t really do all that much. Same thing with Rosemary’s Baby; lots of the other people are crazy, but you don’t really see all that much of the baby going to town. In fact, he only makes the appearance at the end, really. So how do you find a Crazy Baby of the right type?

Let me tell you this: in Chicago, it’s not as easy as it sounds. I went to the Blockbuster a few blocks from my house (in Chicago, there’s a Blockbuster a few blocks from everybody’s house), and they were busted. Turns out the closest thing I could find only qualified because it had a monster in a hatching egg on the cover. But Proteus is for another review."Ooh, I knew I shouldn't have had Taco Bell so close to my due date!"

Finally, I was able to get down to the local independent store, Darkstar, on North Lincoln. Yes, I believe it’s named after that famous Carpenter movie, his first. Not only do they know their stuff, they’ve got a varied selection of the kind of stuff you don’t often find in chain stores. Even Hollywood Video. At least in Chicago. They still don’t have Crossroads, and I have yet to see if they have Cast A Deadly Spell, but they’ve got lots and lots of other neat stuff.

In any case, they were able to provide an excellent Crazy Baby movie: It’s Alive.

The cover had a fanged, big-eyed baby… looking kind of like a vampire Gray, actually… and I have to say, killer mutant cannibal babies seemed like a fun time.

As usual, I was "I'm sorry ma'am, but my official diagnosis is that your baby is, in fact, crazy."going to try to write the draft of the movie review while actually watching the film. However, for a change, I was watching it with my beloved wife, George. Now, George was a film studies major, so she has a great deal of training in interpreting and evaluating cinema. On a side note, Chris and Scott of Stomp Tokyo once thought she might be a hologram, I think because they couldn’t picture a real woman would be dating me. But that’s just a side note, and we’re married now, so the last laugh is on them, I think. In any case, George is a quick wit with an erudite means of expressing herself. Perfect for watching a movie with.

Okay, so we started it up. Sadly, I had no advantage of previews to lessen the experience; straight into the pain. As the credits began to roll, we see little lights… what are these, eyes? Reflecting the glare of something… No, wait… There are more of them. Cells? No, there are beams; they’re flashlights! What? Why flashlights? Okay, so it’s a neat little way to open the movie, I’d say, however, it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the crazy baby.

Okay, from the flashing lights, we cut to a red-haired pregnant woman, waking up in the middle of the night, and finding it’s time for her to have a baby… she and Peter Lorre… no, wait, it’s not really Peter Lorre, it just looks like him when the"Honey, I believe we should've thought twice before deciding not to put chicken wire over the crib." man’s lying there. She doesn’t seem to have her water broken, but then again, it’s 1973, and they must not be comfortable talking about that sort of thing. They get up and start to get ready. Boy, it’s taking a lot of time. But wait, something seems to be wrong. Oh, no, it’s time to wake up their young son and have some expository dialogue.

So their small son is sleeping with a cat. A cat? What kind of Siamese cat looks like it’s dead and just calmly stays under a kid’s arm all night? Well, not all night, perhaps, just for the shot, so they must have had well-trained cat actors in the early 70s. Kind of an odd choice for a boy’s sleeping companion, but at the very least it promises to provide some false scares. After all, what would a monster movie be without a Spring-loaded Cat (term coined by the good folks at Jabootu’s, also fellow Chicagoans)? We’ve all seen the Spring-loaded Cat, where the cat jumps out from hiding to surprise the actors and provide a cheap scare. It’s one of my pet peeves in movies that I pay good money to see in the theater, but I don’t mind it so much in cheap B-movies; after all, what else do they have going for them?

Okay, after they do some exposition, stuff I couldn’t really be bothered to pay attention to, even if it were easily audible, they continue to prepare to leave. Man, it’s really moving slow. Isn’t a pregnant woman supposed to be in a lot of pain? I mean, contractions and all… they hardly even show her in pain. Okay, now Mom and Peter are pausing to gaze lovingly at the nursery. The woman is in labor, people! You should have taken the time to anticipate your coming happiness, you know, before this!

Yes, we now have unequivocal proof that Peter Lorre is a father. With a pregnant wife in labor, he returns to the nursery to shut off the lights.

There is a touching family interaction as they drive to drop off their son, C"What do you mean there's gonna be two sequels?!"hris, with their family friend, a friendly neighborhood child molester, and very calmly and quietly check into Community Hospital.

Even in labor pains, Mom is very calm and rational. Either she’s a bad actress, or her "labor" is pretty weak at the moment. Peter Lorre spends a great deal of time gazing at the little babies. George thinks they’re fake babies, and they do look rather rubbery, but when they put one in an incubator, it moves on its own. I tend to think that maybe sleeping babies in the early 70s just naturally had a rubbery look to them.

A bunch of fathers sit in the waiting room, including a Robert Englund-looking guy, a Hunter S. Thompson-looking guy, our Peter Lorre-looking guy, and a tall, balding guy I like to call The Mook. Now we have the time to give our Environmental Message: with the pollution and toxins and all that, it’s a wretched world to bring a kid into. The Mook, an exterminator, says maybe we’ll adapt, and tells the gripping story of how the roaches in Beverly Hills adapt to new poisons. Little did he know he was describing exactly what was going on with bacteria and antibiotics, as well. But that’s the benefit of hindsight.

Now then, Mo"Scalpel?"  "Check!"  "Sponge?"   "Check!"  "Bear Trap?"m is gradually having her baby delivered. There’s a whole crew there, probably lots more people than are actually necessary. Dr. Tactful delivers the words every mother wants to hear "This baby is just gigantic."

Things are very quiet. Then, while gazing some more at the rubber babies, Peter Lorre notices a collapsed orderly… strange that nobody saw what happened. In any case, he naturally relates it to his own child, and bursts into the birthing room to find everyone slaughtered! Except his screaming wife: "Where’s my baby! Why won’t you show me my baby?" Okay, I know you kind of lose track of things when you’re in labor, but not only is she splashed with blood, and strapped to the table (do they do that?), but the bodies of the medical crew are stacked like cordwood off to one side, where she could see them. I mean, come on.

Orderlies restrain Peter Lorre, while they don’t seem to be particularly worried about the bodies. They do take the time to notice that the umbilical cord has been chewed off, rather than cut. Exactly what kind of priorities do these early 70s doctors have, anyway?

Aha! Now there seems to be a police investigation. They’re looking up in the drop ceiling, finding blood and excess tissue! I knew James Cameron must have gotten it from someplace to use in Aliens! No, wait, apparently it was a skylight, not a drop ceiling. Well, similar principle: when you want to be sneaky, you go high. Of course, that brings up the question of how a newborn was able to reach a skylight, much less a drop ceiling. And this baby also seems to be able to launch himself up from, say, floor level to neck level, and ripping into the carotid artery of his victims. No wonder the baby is gigantic! It seems as though we’ve chosen well, this is definitely a Crazy Mutant Baby.

Okay, back to the movie. See, here’s the thing. When the dead bodies were found, when the medical team was killed and Mom was going crazy, and they were screaming about the baby and such (though I’m still iffy about ho"Susie, I won't be taking any calls this afternoon. I just found out that my baby is crazy."w he could relate a collapsed body in a hallway to his own child’s birth; it’s just too much of a leap for me to go with), it was interesting. Now that we’re back in the emoting time, and they’re being all weepy about the baby, I find it hard to

Hang on… there must have been five or eight people killed, and they’re just focusing on the missing baby. You’d think the police would be swarming around the place, you’d think they’d be questioning the wife on what she saw, but you know, the police don’t seem all that up on things. Those dead medical professionals at Community Hospital won’t get justice anytime soon.

Now, back to the movie. I really do wonder about the makers of these B-movies. I mean, I know baby movies usually take a bit of time to warm up, but how much walking and standing around do they think they can carry off? Building tension by showing a man brushing his teeth and staring in the mirror? I don’t think it works, really, but then again, I’m not much of a movie executive.

Mom stays in the hospital, while Peter Lorre drives home. In the news on the radio, the newscast is remarkably movie-specific. They already have the salient details of the attack at the hospital, and they’re blabbing them all over.

"Police still offer no explanation for the series of five deaths which occurred early today at the St. George Medical Center in Santa Monica. Officers are still working an around the clock schedule. Informed sources at the hospital allege the deaths resulted from attacks by an infant, born earlier today in a mutated form, but officials declined to comment. This station has acquired exclusive information naming Mr. and Mrs. Frank Davis of West Los Angeles as the parents of the infant in question. The whereabouts of the newborn child are not known."

What responsible journalism! Those aren’t words you hear in every radio news report, but damn it, you should.

The next morning, a woman heading toward her car hears a baby cry, and goes to invBaby-Cam!estigate. Dear God, what a mini-dress! And go-go boots! Finally, some cheesecake! I have to admit, this is my favorite part of the movie so far. See, we’ve developed the art of the B-movie far enough that if we don’t see some kind of exploitation early enough, we have a tough time staying interested. Now, this isn’t exactly exploitation, exactly, and I know for a fact that this girl is going to be baby food in a second or two, but still, you have to enjoy what you can.

There are a few point of view shots that are deeply out of focus. Is this going to be representative of the Crazy Mutant Baby? Could this be the first view of Babycam? I do believe so. Shortly, the baby strikes, and we have…

CRAZY BABY IMAGE! Only took twenty minutes for a half-second shot. Still, could be worse. It’s a fanged baby mouth, and I presume it’s munching on the hottie in the mini-dress. Oh, well. At least Crazy Mutant Baby is already on solid food. What a fast learner he is!

Peter Lorre goes in to work the next day. Got to admire him; he’s quite a trooper. Of course, due to the wonderful journalism of the day, everybody knows he’s the father of a Crazy Mutant Baby. As he passes by the receptionist, who looks just like Jane Curtin, incidentally, calls someone on the phone. Well, that’s better than getting on the PA and calling "Code Blue, Father of the Killer Baby is in the building!" Peter gets called into his boss’s office.

Okay, this is the early seventies. I love watching movies from this period. Smoking like chimneys indoors, ordering huge amounts of bacon for breakfast, open-necked shirts… But it’s still before the fashion excesses you witness in movies like The Stepford Wives and so on. Open references to abortion, just to be topical… people saying "I heard you wanted to rap with me…" Recent history can be fun, kids. Don’t limit yourself to older historical references like Gladiator or Rob Roy… or Silverado or Wild Wild West, for that matter. Explore your recent history, with Attack of the Giant Spiders and Dazed and Confused.

Peter Lorre eventually heads off to take some time off, though it’s clear to just about everyone else that his "vacation" is a barely concealed firing, due to the embarrassment of producing a killer Crazy Mutant Baby. George’s accompaniment in this endeavor pays off. As Peter Lorre walks out of his public relations firm, she says, "You’ve just been fired. Don’t you hate your sperm?"

Okay, for a public relations firm executive, he really can’t handle the press. Okay, sure, the press has been trumpeting the story of his baby going bad (talk about being born bad), and they’re hounding him more than we usually see in the movies (well, I guess that depends on the movie, but come on, it’s not really his fault).Uh, is that the baby?

We cut to a crime scene. The lead detective in the Crazy Mutant Baby case stands up from examining the latest baby-mauled body. "Hunting and killing babies doesn’t seem to be my specialty," he says. Boy, if only more cops could make that claim. He trades quips with a fat, bald Edward James Olmos, and then goes on.

Back in the Davis household, Mom is sitting in bed with the rent-a-nurse at her side. The medical professionals in this movie! Talk about tact! "Are you sure you never got a good look at it? They say it has teeth and claws, did you know that?" This girl’s got nothing on Nurse Ratchett… much less Dr. Tactful from the earlier part of the movie. Oh, but she’s a reporter on the side, this nurse! Never should have admitted that, girl, cost you a job. Pity, really.

Now again, we have Babycam. Apparently, Crazy Mutant Babies are roving hand-held cameras set up out of focus, so we get this little roving view through a bunch of garden cover-plants. Babycam occasionally gets a view of the baby himself… and as we get glimpses, George remarks he looks like the baby form the TV show Dinosaurs! You know, she’s right. Though brown rather than pink, but still full of claws and big eyes. And even though he’s developing fast, on solids and able to leap up to neck level (though apparently not able to walk, still), he still can’t say "Not the mamma!" Come on, can’t you just try?

In all honesty, you’d probably think that having the Babycam rolling around and attacking people and all, it would be more interesting. I mean, they spend a great deal of time pushing the tension, with music and camera angles. You keep waiting for the shoe to drop, for it to unfold the way you know it has to. Of course, when you get down to it, the most intere"Chief, I have a sneaky suspicion that we may have got the wrong baby..."sting part of his murder of the milkman is when all the milk starts spilling out of the back of the truck, and we start looking for the blood… there it is, blood and milk. Isn’t that a Mongolian drink of some sort? Or am I just reading too much Transmetropolitan? Anyway, we knew it was going to happen, we were just surprised that so much milk went out onto the street before it started to go pink on us.

Oh, something’s happening! The cops are deploying, rolling up in a bunch of cruisers, scrambling around to the back of a house to the sounds of a baby crying. The cops ring the suspect, and we get the shots of gun barrels pointing at the camera. The target? A regular baby looking around, as if confused. He looks like an infant Bruce Willis, a perplexed expression on his face. Then a cut back to the cops, still aiming.

Could that have been a joke, a stab at humor? Wow. Perhaps this movie isn’t so serious after all. But then again, it probably is just a fluke.

Peter Lorre doesn’t seem to be looking like Peter Lorre anymore… I think he’s looking like James Caan. Of course, I’m going to call him Peter Lorre, because I’m afraid Peter Lorre is under-represented in modern film.

Okay, some scientists show up and ask Peter Lorre to sign over the rights to the baby’s body. Oh, I should mention there’s a sub-plot wherein the scientists in the hospital and such all want to study the Crazy Mutant Baby. To create a race of Mutant Supermen, soldiers for the war against the Communists? Very likely. Still, those long-range plans aren’t exactly explored at this stage of the movie. Perhaps it’s just a situation where scientists want to dissect the baby because they can. They’re scientists. That’s what they do.

(Okay, for that, I have to apologize to Liz over at And You Call Yourself A Scientist.)

One of the scientists, as Peter Lorre is signing the papers, says, "Out of every tragedy, out of every Evil, some good can come if we only apply ourselves."

Peter Lorre doesn’t really see it that way. He starts discussing Frankenstein, how he used to confuse the monster with the scientist, and the identities meld, you think he’s about to make the serious point about which is the real monster, perhaps relating it to his own situation, with him or his biological creation, when the old scientist comments "One must not allow one’s self to be impressed by escapist fiction." Talk about squashing the moment. Boy, make up your mind: do you want to keep it light and surface, or do you want to try and make a deeper point? Of course, the mere fact that they even bring up the possibility of a deeper point makes them a cut above. They share that distinction with far too few movies, I have to say. See my comments on the subject in the review of Dead Alive.

Suzie "Overcompensating" Homemaker Mom bustles herself around, inviting the two child-body-robbing scientists to dinner. Sure, honey, we just signed away our Crazy Mutant Baby’s body to these guys, we might as well feed them, anyway. She doesn’t seem to have the ability to comprehend the words "no, thank you," as even when they repeatedly refuse, she continues to sell the pork chop dinner idea. Oh, poor Mom… gone round the bend so early in life. Sad, really.

This movie is most notable so far not for its Crazy Mutant Baby, but more for its focus on the degeneration of the normal parents, the pain and horror they are feeling as the baby continues to scurry around, rat-like, killing its way through the California population. Thankfully, Crazy Mutant Baby is limiting himself to the dregs of society, like go-go dancers and milkmen. Wait a minute… Anyway, they spend a lot of time on the human reactions to the tragedy, and I have to admit, it brings the movie down. It’s not like the early seventies weren’t depressing enough, now they have to include a depressing movie about crazy babies. Life isn’t as fair as you might think, sometimes.

Even though they have no guests, Peter Lorre goes down in the basement for some wine. Uh-oh, the music indicates something is about to happen. This would"Yup, that definitely looks like the work of a baby." be a perfect time for a Spring-loaded Cat… wait for it… ready… and… Piñata! A rabbit piñata inexplicably pops out onto him, and as a matter of fact, there seems to be a piñata of a bull in the background. Three questions are raised: 1) what the heck caused the piñata to fall over? 2) what happened to the Spring-loaded Cat, and why isn’t he in the basement, ready for launch? 3) what the heck are they doing with all these piñatas in the basement? 3a) Are they starting a cottage industry?

One of the scientist guys is seen talking to a large guy with a very strange-looking beard. Wow, this was the seventies, I know, but since this guy is the representative of Big Business, from his speech, I find it unlikely that he could get away with such a silly-looking beard. But then, I suppose it doesn’t matter. He does, however, give us this great line:

"I realize that it is a police problem, but once the thing has killed it becomes a medical problem."


Okay, back to the movie. Here we go, another police crackdown scene! Are they going after a Romper Room tot in the grade school? Baby Sister Suzie on the jungle gym? Police in riot gear, all armed with shotguns, jog through the halls of the school, run up the stairs… and then cut to Peter Lorre, drinking moodily. Wow, I’ll bet he’s not a happy drunk. Anyway, the cut is rather jarring, and I really do have to wonder what the connection is?

Ah, here’s the connection. Someone calls for the doctor who left, like, several hours ago, if it’s even the same day, and lets him know the Crazy Mutant Baby is holed up in the school. Young son Chris’s school, coincidentally. They don’t say on the phone whether or not the baby has taken hostages, or issued demands, but we can only presume so. Peter tells Mom he’s going out, but doesn’t really tell her where.

Cut to casualties! A bunch of officers are carting someone out of the school. Damn, the cops are dropping like flies! And they keep a good perimeter, too… checking every doghouse, hen house, and tool shed in a two-mile radius for fanged, clawed babies. Of course, it’s relatively easy to make a wall of men around a school, but the question is whether or not it will help anything. Even money says the baby will slip through the police cordon without even breaking a sweat. They escort Peter Lorre into the school so he can talk to the no-baby-hunter-killer detective guy, and leave him in a kindergarten classroom. Hmm. Guess we can all see what’s coming up, yes?

Inside the school, we see things moving around, as if the baby is playing with them. Just as I thought. I see a paper-machie head! That’s right, it’s you! Who’s a naughty mutant? That’s right, you are! Stealthy mutant baby… good baby!

Okay, Dad freaks out about his personal pain to the cops while the Crazy Mutant Baby is hiding in the room… and apparently, the kid is not only born with the ability to kill, it’s also got a faster learning curve than Frankenstein’s monster, knowing English and ninja steaUh, is *that* the baby?!lth techniques already. Again, monsters on film are shown to develop much faster than normal humans. Granted, this one appeared to have a normal gestation period, but after that, it’s all advanced. It really should be walking by this time, or perhaps grown up to nine feet tall and eating engineers in the bowels of a space ship… no, wait, wrong movie. Which movie, by the way, is also not really a competitor for a Crazy Baby movie, because the alien doesn’t spend enough time in baby form.

Always be aware that bad things happen when you’re in a schoolroom, or any room, really, with a flashing red neon light visible in the window. What, is this school in Vegas? But red light on a scene is just asking for a death. Bear that in mind, my friends, and keep an eye out for red light.

As we get better glimpses of the baby, I’m finding it harder and harder to get enthused about it. The Crazy Zombie Baby of Dead Alive was played for laughs, and then when it was relatively poorly done, it added to the humor. However, It’s Alive seems to be playing it all straight. How can you play it straight when your main monster is a giant fanged and clawed baby? It seems to want to make its point seriously, as if the creation of a Crazy Mutant Baby is a real threat to our existence. There are very few nods to the ludicrousness of the situation. I think the movie would have gone down easier if it had not taken itself so seriously.

Woah, momma… just got a look in Peter and Suzie’s freezer, and it appears that they’ve been stocking up! Packed with meat and frozen vegetables. Maybe they’ll have to hole up in the house for several days; maybe that’s why it’s so packed. Or not…

Yet another horror movie cliché: music and camera angles that seem to build tension, but don’t. We’re all waiting for the baby to come to the house; it’s got a better homing signal than those animals in Incredible Journey. Heck, when we were led to believe it was watching the car from the bushes outside the hospital, I had the suspicion it would find its way back to its parents… I thought it was memorizing the license plates at the time. But is it really here?

Apparently so. Babycam in the house! (sounds like I should be at a club, or a rapper or something. Baby Cam in da Haaaaa-ouseee!) But it’s a false alarm, just like the Spring-loaded Bunny. Nobody actually gets bitten. Of course, it’s just the family in the house, so perhaps that has something to do with it. Still Peter Lorre feels it necessary to go around and check the place out, see if there is anything amiss.

Chris’s room is a mess, like it’s been ransacked by a clumsy thief… or a Crazy Mutant Baby. The stuffed animal dog is chewed open. But the cat is still around! I know it’s a movie rule that you can’t kill the dog if you want your movie to be a success, but cats should be fair game. I mean, it’s not like they’re not satanic or something. And as the only non-human resident of the house, he should be first to go. After all, it’s not like he’s fulfilling his role; we haven’t seen him spring inexplicably out from hiding all movie!

Finding nothing conclusive, Peter Lorre goes down to get a drink of milk. Aha! All the meat and vegetables that were stockpiled are gone! Baby’s got a big appetite. But again, that leads to a question: if the baby’s eating so damn much, where are its diapers? I mean, like they said in Tremors: "after eating all those sheep, you’d think it would have to take a dump somewhere!" Then again, it’s not something that’s really covered in most movies. Where are the toilets in Star"Help! I'm being assaulted by a Cabbage Patch Kid!" Trek, for example? Same thing. Perhaps it also has a Crazy Mutant Metabolism that exercises total matter conversion. That would be cool.

But, anyway. Mom’s obviously been feeding it: the maternal instinct wins out over everything, it seems, even murderous, be-fanged and be-clawed monstrosities. Apparently, it’s stronger than the grand-maternal instinct, as shown by the Ripley clone in Alien Resurrection. There, no problem dealing with the mutant. Here, it’s got to be protected.

Peter Lorre goes through the house, looking for the baby. He enters the darkened nursery… sees something in the crib… snatches off the blanket… Nothing! What? All that build-up, and not even a Spring-loaded Cat? That Siamese is really falling down on the job. But no, wait, apparently baby can slam doors, now. If it starts taunting Peter, a la Freddie Krueger, I’m leaving. He comes over to the door… and the tension is cancelled just by him turning on the light. Bummer.

Young Chris has broken away from the child molester, and has been running home, apparently for miles, and it’s taken days, by the way the sky’s been lightening and darkening. However, no sweat-stains in his clothes. Upon returning home, he dashes right into… the basement. That’s right, where every young boy worried about his parents goes. So, looking around in the basement, he sees the cat!

Finally! The cat gets his! But of course, it’s necessary to wait for it, until Chris can be surprised by it. Admittedly, it’s not spring-loaded, but it’s the Jump-cut Dead Cat! It’s not even all that well done, but at least the sudden cuts to it, and the various sudden angles, and the blare of "surprise" music, kind of make it surprising. Kind of. Well, okay, not really. But they had to do something with the cat.

And now we see the full shot of the Crazy Mutant Baby’s head. He looks a little bit like one of those Talosians from the episode of Star Trek with old Captain Pike, except it’s gone all vampire. If the baby starts projecting illusions into people’s heads, I’m turning it off! Well, maybe not. I’ve come this far.

Peter Lorre charges downstairs, drags his older son to safety, and shoots at the Crazy Mutant Baby! In my memory, he gives that pistol the little firing "push" that the gangsters in the movies of the ‘30s and ‘40s used to, like that would make the bullet go faster or something.

Crazy Mutant Baby is still alive! He makes a break for it! Go, Crazy Mutant Baby, go! Babycam comes up the stairs… and it’s the family friend, finally caught up with Chris! Oh, child molester goes down! That’s mighty fast work, Crazy Mutant Baby. You’re a fast learner.

Okay, wife-slapping time! She’s screaming about protecting both her children, he’s angry because she hid and fed the killer. Sure, she’s crazy, and the slapping doesn’t seem to affect her in the least (maybe if it wasn’t stage-slaps, it might be more effective), but still, it’s something of an unnecessary scene. He runs up the stairs, to the outside, but the dear child is gone.Ah! There's the baby!

Going around, shooting things in his P.J.s… what’s Peter Lorre thinking? Well, the cops eventually show up, and they start trying to track it. The scientist guy who’s been on the case from the very beginning makes the most preposterous claim in the movie so far. "It’s lost a lot of blood, and it’s my opinion that our troubles are very nearly over. Shall we go?"

Yeah, as if blood loss could kill it. Do you know how much that thing eats? You think losing a few pints is all it will take? At the speed of that metabolism, he’ll have that blood replaced in a jiffy. I wish I was a Crazy Mutant Baby, sometimes, late at night, when I lie awake dreaming of what could have been. Don’t we all?

Cops are following the trail. Now the ice cream truck with "Stop Children" on the back! Is this an attempt at levity, at acknowledging how ludicrous this movie is? Like the standoff with the infant Bruce Willis, it’s just kind of left there, no explanation or other notice given. They’re tracking the Crazy Mutant Baby’s blood trail, but apparently they don’t have access to good old-fashioned bloodhounds. I’ll give them this: they didn’t resort to using orange-red tempera paint for blood. It really looks like fresh blood when they’re trying to track the baby’s blood trail. Of course the true test of fake blood is whether or not it looks real when it’s dried, but I don’t think they’ll be spending enough time with it to be sure.

They head to the sewers. And the parade of cops begins. I haven’t seen this many cops running around like they think they know what they’re doing since the Blues Brothers! They have this shot, up a stairway as the police come pouring down and turn off into the sewers. They just keep coming. Yeah, right, we get the point.

Down in the sewers, they break out the flashlights. "Baby don’t need no flashlight!" says George, and she’s right, once again.

So let me get this straight. You’re going down in the sewers, with all these pipes that bring a killer baby, one that can already leap up and bite you in the neck, brings it right up to your chest level. And nobody’s got on collars? I don’t even see helmets. So the baby, who’s probably figured out human structure now, can just leap out, sever your spinal cord at the base of the skull, and feed at leisure. Yeah. Real smart, guys.

Flashing red light, from the rotating cop car light, combined with still shots of the various parties; the police, the Crazy Mutant Baby, the detectives, Peter Lorre. It actually seems a bit artful. In this movie? I don’t know. But does anything come of it? Unlike the rest of the movie, the appearance of red light doesn’t seem to indicate imminent baby-murder.

Wow, blind-sided by more walking sequences. Of course, this time, it’s through the sewers, and there’s a higher level of tension from the possibility of Crazy Mutant Baby attack, but still, it’s just people walking around in the sewers, with flashlights… oh, wow, it’s the opening credits! Double blind-sided! Now I’mProjectile baby! going to have to watch the whole movie over again. George, where’s that gun?

In some shots, Peter Lorre looks like a taller Dennis Hopper, but of course, at this point in time, Hopper was whacked out of his gourd, so it can’t really be him. And besides, I’m still going to call him Peter Lorre.

Some cops at the parent’s house lead Mom into a waiting cop car, putting her in the back. "You’re under arrest for aiding and abetting a gigantic killer mutant baby," says George. Man, I wish they’d had my wife on Mystery Science Theater. Maybe then she’d be writing for The Simpsons, like Josh Weinstein, and I’d be living pretty in California. Wait, this movie is set in California. Don’t want to live where there are Crazy Mutant Babies in the sewers. They’d run all the alligators out of there, and take over. Build a Crazy Mutant Baby kingdom deep under the surface of the earth, coming out at night to feed, and capture prisoners to sacrifice to their Crazy Mutant Baby god on the ziggurat temple in the gnawed-out caverns... No, wait, I think that’s C.H.U.D., isn’t it? So, never mind.

You know, this baby makes little cries that sound like a Kryat Dragon call. Is that Obi-wan? And then other times, like here in the sewers, it sounds just like our cat, Proton Accelerator. Yes, our cat sometimes sounds like a baby crying; people have commented on that on the phone, and are always amused to hear it’s just the cat. If they only had to live with it…

In any case, Peter Lorre is on the hunt. Is that the killer there? No, just the sensitive eyes of a Crazy Mutant Baby. Of course, getting a good look at his gigantic mutant son is enough to turn his heart. Oh, the paternal instinct! It’s his son, and all through the film, up until just now, you’ve been arguing to kill him outright, but now… the pathos, the love. It’s enough to turn a reviewer’s heart. Or is that my stomach?

Actually, I think he most looks like a fleshier, early seventies version of the reporter guy from MuIt's true! Baby don't need no flashlight!rphy Brown, the commitment-shy dangerous-living guy. You know who I’m talking about. Except I’m still going to call him Peter Lorre.

Okay, anyway. See, now Peter Lorre’s on the run, as well, protecting his crazy killer mutant son. Reminds me of his role in M. And the cop cars are driving through the large sewer pipes… chasing him down! I don’t know, guys, it’s bad enough you drove a car into an enclosed space like the sewers, do you really want to run down Peter Lorre as well?

How does it end? Unlike Dead Alive, there’s not as much joy in the ending. Though you would think the cops would be scared off, Tusken-Raider-like, by the baby’s screams, they aren’t. And you wonder how many cops it takes to take down one gigantic killer cannibalistic Crazy Mutant Baby. Well, it turns out to be well deserved, as the baby unleashes its secret weapon, Death Blossom! No, wait, that’s the end of The Last Starfighter. Suffice it to say that not all that many people die, this being a relatively low budget film in the early seventies, and they set up a sequel. Not starring this particular baby puppet, but still, it’s a sequel.

My thought was that they really could have done much more with the concept. I’m always a fan of humor, even when it’s black or grotesque, and certainly this subject material called for some kind of joke, but besides those I mentioned, I really couldn’t find too much there. Was it deeply hidden satire? Was "I've had a change of heart, and I now love my Crazy Baby!"there more of a subversive message going on there than I realized? I don’t think so; they played it pretty straight the whole way through, and it didn’t seem anyone really enjoyed the sheer absurdity of the extensive manhunt for a mutant baby. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of movies that just take themselves too seriously, and this is one of them.

So, is it worth the rental? Well, if you’re not expecting too much action, and you have a brace of friends with quips at the ready, then perhaps this is a good choice. It’s way too light on the Crazy Mutant Babies, but it does have a certain kitsch to it, and if you’re looking for a deep examination of the way a parent deals with a tragedy, particularly the tragedy of having your baby born as a gigantic cannibalistic Crazy Mutant Baby, then you could benefit from this movie.

I really do wish the Hoff had been in full force this far back in movie-making history. If ever there was a Crazy Baby Movie that could have benefited from his inestimable presence; it would be this one.

Of course, there is a sequel, so perhaps that movie could use it more.

"I'm sorry sir, but this ward was designed specifically for *normal* babies."


-- Copyright © 2000 by E. Mark Mitchell


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