Infamous adult film star Traci Lords, now of legal age, makes her "legit" acting debut in a remake of Roger Corman's 1957 sci-fi film of the same name. While most notable for its headliner, and the fact that this is the last time she exposed her world famous assets, the film does manage to stand on its own. It's a fun space-vampire tale, rooted in the sensibilities of old, but spiced up with a healthy dose of sleaze.
Arthur Roberts plays Mr. Johnson, an alien sent to Earth to complete a vital "five phase" mission. On his home planet of Devanna, his race is dieing due to a disease he refers to as "evaporating blood." While on Earth, he's to collect human blood samples and send them back. A human test subject must also be transported home to further evaluate the compatibility of the blood. If the blood is deemed compatible, and if he doesn't die from his own illness first, Mr. Johnson is to lead a take over of Earth and harvest its residents.
Mr. Johnson's well equipped for his task. To disable unwilling donors he simply gives them the evil eye, sucking the life out of those foolish enough to look at him. He then employs a briefcase pumping device to extract the blood, which he transports home through his own personal stargate. Just to make sure no one dares to disobey, he also possesses the powers of mind control and telepathic communication.
To take care of his own medical needs, Mr. Roberts hires Nurse Nadine Story (Traci Lords) from the local clinic. She moves into his home to oversee his daily blood transfusions. Upon arrival, she quickly realizes that strange things are afoot. Johnson never eats, brings people home that never leave, incessantly burns the wood stove in the middle of the summer, and seems to be running some kind of experiment in the basement. Nadine soon teams up with Johnson's butler Jeremy (Lenny Juliano) and together they decide to figure out exactly what's going on.
What follows is a slow paced, yet thoroughly entertaining sci-fi yarn. Utilizing largely the same script as the 1957 version, the dialogue is light hearted and fun. Arthur Roberts gives the best performance with his stiff, almost robotic, portrayal of the out-of-place spaceman that's a staple of so many classic sci-fi films. Traci Lords is delightful in allure, if not in acting ability. She takes full advantage of every opportunity to flaunt the body that made her famous. Like a fetish smorgasbord, we get Traci in a nurse outfit, a bikini, an evening gown, lingerie, and of course in nothing at all. She has good acting chemistry with Lenny Juliano, and their interactions result in a few good laughs. Rounding up the cast is Roger Lodge, perhaps best known as the host of the TV show Blind Date, hamming it up in the role of Nadine's policeman boyfriend.
In classic Roger Corman style, you can bet that every expense was spared in the production of this film. The picture clocks in at a brisk 81 minutes, with some footage comically borrowed directly from other Corman films. Entire sequences are spliced in, including a three and a half minute clip from Humanoids from the Deep. It's fun to see how director Jim Wynorski pieces these scenes into his production, especially if you've seen the films from which they're taken. Unfortunately, these scenes do give the film a strange feeling of inconsistency, particularly the slasher horror segment that's completely out of place. To top it all off, the title sequence is a montage of great moments spanning the producer's latter horror catalogue.
The DVD is full frame, but the picture is generally clean and free of artifacts. The sound, while not detracting from the experience, is merely adequate. There are some notable extras, the best being a feature length commentary with Jim Wynorski and Lenny Juliano. This commentary is extremely entertaining, revealing much about the trials and tribulations of shooting a movie in twelve days. Many fun mistakes are pointed out, including shots where the entire crew can be seen in the reflections on a car. Other extras are biography pages for the stars and a few trailers for other Corman films.
While it may not be a classic of sci-fi film making, Not of this Earth is certainly a fun ride. After all, where else can you get the uneasy feeling created by seeing Traci Lords and Roger Lodge in bed together? Now that's a mismatched blind date.