Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NOT OF THIS EARTH

Porn star Traci Lords made her "legitimate" screen debut for Roger Corman's Concorde company in 1988, starring in a remake of one of his 1950s sci-fi potboilers. Directed by B-movie veteran Jim Wynorski (CHOPPING MALL, RETURN OF THE SWAMP THING), the R-rated NOT OF THIS EARTH hits DVD this week as part of Shout! Factory's "Roger Corman's Cult Classics" line.

After a pre-credits and title sequence comprised of stock footage from various previous Corman films (most obviously, GALAXY OF TERROR and FORBIDDEN WORLD), we are introduced to Mister Johnson (Arthur Roberts, REVENGE OF THE NINJA) a suit & sunglasses-wearing extraterrestrial from a dying world, on Earth to sample human blood, which he hopes can be used to save his race. He hires a beautiful young nurse named Nadine (Traci Lords, PRINCESS OF MARS) to live in his (stolen) mansion and give him daily blood transfusions. Soon, though, his odd behavior - and the mysterious deaths of a slew of blood-drained victims - arouses Nadine's suspicions....

Wynorski bet Roger Corman that he could shoot this remake in less time than Corman had spent making the 1957 original (which starred Bevery Garland), and actually completed the principal photography in less than 12 days! The result is a sloppy, tongue-in-cheek sci-fi/horror/would-be comedy, shamelessly padded with whole scenes lifted from HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, GALAXY OF TERROR and HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP. Surprisingly, it plays out fairly well, and while it's not a good movie, it never drags and delivers plenty of what its audience of the time (and most potential DVD buyers today) really wanted: Traci Lords' naked body.

As Lords' first mainstream vehicle after more than 60 porn flicks (almost all of them shot while she was underaged), NOT OF THIS EARTH garnered a lot of attention in 1988 from the press, entertainment media, and scores of curious guys who wanted to catch a glimpse of the starlet who had so recently been at the heart of a huge scandal.

Shout! Factory's DVD features a solid, 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer from a decent source print, that is a notable improvement over the New Horizons disc issued in 2001. There are a few very minor specks and other bits of debris evident, but nothing detrimental to the viewing experience. The stereo audio is likewise serviceable. Bonus features include a new, entertaining commentary track by Wynorski and Lords, a second commentary with Wynorski and cast member Lenny Juliano from the old DVD, a new video interview with Lords, a still gallery, and theatrical trailers for the film, the 1957 original (paired with ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS), STARCRASH and (unsurprisingly) GALAXY OF TERROR.

NOT OF THIS EARTH is an entertaining 80 minutes or so, with Traci Lords at her physical prime (as she was just 19 when the movie was made). The cast is energetic, Chuck Cirino's (EVIL TOONS) synth score is pretty good, and there are lots of boobies. It's not scary and not very funny, but it's pretty painless.

BUYNot Of This Earth (1988)(Roger Corman's Cult Classics)