NOT OF THIS EARTH - DVD review

Not of This Earth is pure, unadulterated, exploitation goodness.

William D. Lee's picture
William
Lee

"Not of This Earth" marked the first step into the mainstream for former porn star Traci Lords. The actress was at the center of controversy when it was discovered that she was underage. Of course, B-movie maestro Roger Corman loved all the scandal and knew Traci Lords would be the perfect starlet for him. At the time, Corman was looking to produce a remake of one of his old films with Jim Wynorski ("Chopping Mall," "The Return of Swamp Thing") as director. Originally, they planned to remake "Attack of the Crab Monsters," but realized they couldn't afford to update the picture using modern special effects. Instead, they chose "Not of This Earth," which was first made in 1957 with Beverly Garland and Paul Birch. Wynorski also made a bet with Corman that he could finish making the picture quicker than Corman did with the original. Thus, the new 1988 version was completed in less than a dozen days.

The comely Traci Lords stars as Nadine Story, a nurse working in the office of Dr. Rochelle (Ace Mask), a specialist in diseases of the blood. One day, a mysterious man calling himself Mr. Johnson (Arthur Roberts) comes into the clinic asking for a blood transfusion. He dresses in a three-piece suit with dark sunglasses that he never removes and speaks in a monotone manner. He's like a distant cousin of the Blues Brothers. As it turns out, Mr. Johnson comes from the ravaged planet of Davanna, where its people suffer from a deadly plague that causes their blood to evaporate. Johnson has been sent to Earth on a mission to assess the properties of human blood to see if it can be a viable substitute. Johnson has the ability to emit death rays from his eyes when the glasses are removed as well as telepathic powers.

Johnson winds up hiring Nadine as a live-in nurse to assist him with his daily transfusions. At his home, Nadine meets Johnson's assistant, Jeremy (Lenny Juliano), a two-bit thug who acts as cook, butler, and chauffeur. However, Jeremy and Nadine are oblivious to what Johnson gets up to at night. He goes around killing prostitutes, strippers, and horny teenagers then drains them of their blood. Faster than you can say, "Scooby Doo," Nadine and Jeremy start snooping around and discover the true nature of their employer.

"Not of This Earth" is pure, unadulterated, exploitation goodness. It's the exact type of B-movie that Corman's New World Pictures is famous for producing. That's B for Boobies. It's not a coincidence that the majority of Johnson's victims are buxom bimbos. It gives the audience ample opportunities to see the ample assets of several healthy, young lasses as they drop their tops. Don't worry, horndogs, the film's starlet can be seen in all glory. Traci Lords, who was about 19-20 at the time of filming, shows off her breasts and buttocks in a quick scene where she can be seen toweling off. This would actually be the last time Traci would ever do a nude scene because she wanted to be taken seriously as an actress. Yeah, I know...

Traci's shapely body can also be seen in a variety of skimpy outfits, including a nightgown, a naughty nurse's uniform, and a revealing blue bikini.

As for her acting, well, Wynorski was smart enough not to give her anything too challenging. Not that it matters, I doubt anybody will be watching "Not of This Earth" to critique Traci Lords' performance. Also, despite the cover art stating that, "Traci Lords is…not of this Earth," there is no "Species"-esque twist. She is distinctly human.

The shortcomings of a rushed, low-budget production show themselves throughout "Not of This Earth." A climactic chase scene takes a page right of Ed Wood's playbook as shots clearly switch from night to day and back again. There's another infamous shot where Traci Lords can be seen naked and in the bathroom wearing black, stiletto heels. In the very next shot, she's barefoot. Although, the real question should be who wears high heels while drying off from the shower? Wynorski also recycles shots from earlier Corman productions. The opening credit sequence is stitched together with scenes taken from films like "Galaxy of Terror," "Forbidden World," "Piranha," and "Humanoids from the Deep." One sequence sees a Davannian woman (Rebecca Pearle), dressed in a cloak, stalking and murdering a human female through a foggy neighborhood. It absolutely does not fit in with the rest of the picture because it was lifted entirely from "Hollywood Boulevard," directed by Joe Dante.

VIDEO:
The video is presented in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The transfer suffers from some substantial print damage. It's still very watchable, but there's a lot of grain, scratches, and cigarette burns throughout.

AUDIO:
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0. The sound is a little muddy in certain scenes, but it's solid.

EXTRAS:
Carried over from the previous New Concorde release is an audio commentary track with director Jim Wynorski and actor Lenny Juliano. It's a fast-paced, breezy track with the duo talking about the production and sharing on-set anecdotes.

Shout has also included a brand-new commentary track with Wynorski and Traci Lords. There is some overlap, but this second track focuses more on Traci's involvement and recollections of the movie.

Nadine's Story (11:28) is a short interview with Traci Lords as she discusses her troubles transitioning into mainstream acting and her work on "Not of This Earth."

Rounding out the DVD are a photo gallery and a collection of trailers that includes both versions of "Not of This Earth," "Forbidden World," and "Galaxy of Terror."

FILM VALUE:
"Not of This Earth" is amateurish and sloppy. The dialogue is terrible and most of the acting is wooden. But, you know what? "Not of This Earth" embraces its B-movie roots so readily that it's hard not to be swept up into the unrelenting cheesiness. Plus, that Traci Lords looks pretty damn good in a bikini.

Fun bits of trivia: Nadine's boyfriend is played by Roger Lodge who would go on to host the syndicated TV show "Blind Date." One of the gaffers for the film was Janusz Kaminski who has since become the frequent cinematographer for Steven Spielberg.

Ratings

Video
5
Audio
5
Extras
5
Film Value
6