Made for $400,000, Larry Cohen’s monster baby movie IT’S ALIVE reaped better than $30 million in worldwide box office rentals for Warner Bros., with credit for the film’s unexpected popularity due in large part to an unforgettable advertising campaign: a 30-second TV spot consisting of a back-to-front camera move around a wicker perambulator while a narrator declaims “There’s only one thing wrong with the Davis baby… It’s Alive!” and a monstrous claw juts violently from within. That the film earned back nearly ten times its budget is less remarkable than the fact that its success came three and a half years after its original theatrical release. (…)
Conceived in the aftermath of such scandals as Watergate and thalidomide-born birth defects, at a time when the so-called Generation Gap seemed stretched to its snapping point, IT’S ALIVE reflects the fears of parents about the nature and implications of procreation.
In pinning its narrative to a weird family’s desperation to keep its own shadow from touching the outside world, SPIDER BABY anticipated a score of disparate works, including Jack Clayton’s masterfully eerie OUR MOTHER’S HOUSE (1967), Mario Bava’s LISA AND THE DEVIL (1973), Tobe Hooper’s THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974), Wes Craven’s THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) – hell, even the Maysles Brothers documentary GREY GARDENS (1975). Blackly comic, mercilessly savage and light years ahead of its time (the film’s release was held up for four years), SPIDER BABY has definite legs.
I have no proof that Ari ever saw Spider Baby, but come on: