NOT OF THIS EARTH (1988)
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Roger Corman production is most famous for being the first mainstream movie to star notorious underaged porn star Traci Lords after her scandal broke in 1986. It was also made on a dare as director Jim Wynorski (The Lost Empire, Return Of Swamp Thing) bet Corman he could remake his 1957 original with the same budget and on the same shooting schedule. The result follows the original’s plot with nurse Nadine Story (Lords) as she is asked to be a live-in caretaker for the mysterious and apparently fatally ill Mr. Johnson (Arthur Roberts). Little does the sexy angel of mercy know that Johnson is an alien visitor whose planet is dying and needs the blood of the human race to survive.
Flick is a goofy but fun exploitation flick that is purely tongue in cheek and never tries to be anything more than it is. Wynorski rolls out the jokes and boobs, especially that of his star, who is paraded around in a sexy nurses outfit, bikini or less. It’s pure junk food but it does amuse and what do you expect from a remake of a cult classic made on a dare? There is a lot of stock footage from earlier Corman flicks, including an entire sequence lifted right out of Humanoids From The Deep with a re-filmed climax that uses a completely different actress. Low Budget filmmaking at it’s finest! And what makes this work as well as it does, as with laughably cheesy dialogue and over-the-top performances, is that you can tell the cast and director were just having a good time. It does spread to the audience and it is entertaining in a ‘so bad it’s good’ way. Production wise it looks cheaply made and makes no effort to hide it and has a great 80s electronic score from frequent Wynorski composer Chuck Cirino.
Lords was looking to go straight after being outed as an underaged adult video performer and costing the industry millions as all but one of her films had to be destroyed. Typical of the crafty Wynorski and Corman, they took advantage of her notoriety and actually got her a start in what has turned out to be a prolific mainstream film and television career. She’s not bad in this and one of the few cast members to play it straight and she makes a good heroine despite the nonsense going on around her. Arthur Roberts also plays it straight as the alien Mr. Johnson who is like Mr. Spock meets Count Dracula. In support Ace Mask as Dr. Rochelle, Lenny Juliano as small time hood turned chauffeur, Jeremy and Rodger Lodge as Nadine’s cop boyfriend, all ham it up with an appearance by 80s icon Kelli Maroney in a small role as Nurse Oxford. A cast obviously having a good time.
I like Wynorski’s flicks, this one included. Sure, on one hand they are silly junk, but they have their heart in the right place and are unapologetic when it comes to what they are and what their intent is. Not Of This Earth is a goofy flick made on a bet and simply to be enjoyed with a six pack on the couch…and that’s just fine with me.
MonsterZero NJ Personal Nostalgia: In 1986 I was working in a Palmer Video when my boss frantically came in one morning and ordered us to remove all of Traci Lords’ films from the adult video room stock. He told us why and of course we went through the stock and did as he asked. I remember all that day we kept getting people calling and coming in asking if we had any of her movies to rent. Sadly, we had to disappoint them. Another fond memory of my days in the long gone era of the video rental store.
3 transfusions of audacious silliness.