This week it's another VHS from my recent Horror-Rama haul in Jim Wynorski's 1988 sci-fi flick Not Of This Earth.
An alien (Arthur Roberts) from a dying planet comes to Earth in search of blood to rejuvenate his race.
When the opening credits first came on, I was like, “wow this is amazing, if the rest of the movie is half this good--” then my eyebrow raised when I saw something very familiar. This being a Roger Corman production, I realized that this opening was a greatest hits reel of some of his most memorable pictures including Humanoids From The Deep and Galaxy of Terror. It's a bit of a cheat, but it also made for one hell of an opening.
It took me a while to clock into this movie because as it felt like two distinct sensibilities mixing together into some kind of primordial soup. First, you had the strange genre picture that would've been camp if it wasn't played so straight. It was like John Waters – though I've only seen like two of his movies so it's more like what I think his movies are like – with tons of random nudity. Then put over top of that was a weird noir where people – especially the exchanges between Nadine (Traci Lords) and her co-worker Jeremy (Lenny Juliano) - talk like they're from the fifties. Imagine if a bunch of topless dancers showed up to the station in the second act of Howard Hawks' The Thing.
|Traci Lords as Nadine in Not Of This Earth.
Looking up the movie afterwards – this is definitely one I'd love to hear the commentary track – and seeing it was a remake of Corman's own picture from 1957, it all made sense. He & Wynorski updated the movie with an eighties aesthetic, visual effects and gratuitous T&A, but didn't change the cadence of the dialogue. Now I get it. It's actually kind of a marvel when you take into account that – in regular Corman fashion – the movie was shot in under twelve days. It was also helped by Chuck Cirino's score, even if the best bits sounded like riffs off his earlier score from Chopping Mall.
|Arthur Roberts as Mr. Johnson in Not Of This Earth.
Not Of This Earth is also known for being Lords' first non-porn role and the last picture she played in her birthday suit. She's actually pretty good in this, but it is hard to tell sometimes with all the abstract dialogue. Lords isn't the only familiar face either, as Kelli Maroney from Chopping Mall shows up, as does Roger Lodge, the guy from that Blind Date show. I'd also love to know if there is a story why Dick Miller wasn't the vacuum salesman. Michael DeLano did a fine job, but I couldn't help but wonder if he wasn't a last minute replacement.
So, though Not Of This Earth may not be the caliber of Wynorski's more appreciated works, it's still an interesting anomaly. By the third act I was invested enough to want to know how this crazy tale was going to finish up.