Wednesday, October 19, 2016

HubrisWeen 2016, Day 14: Not of This Earth (1988)

I'm going to go ahead and admit a deep, personal failing. Not a shame, because I am brazenly open about this failing and have no qualms about expressing it. Sure, many will react in horror and revulsion, but I don't care:

I love Jim Wynorski films.

Okay, so love might be a bit too strong a word, but I have an odd fondness for a large amount of the man's work. This is despite the fact that I have never encountered a film by Wynorski that I would say qualifies as "good," save maybe Chopping Mall.

Wynorski films tend to have a few common elements, though not always: gratuitous naked women, gratuitous stock footage, and gratuitous awful comedy. And I do mean awful comedy--bad one-liners, broad characters, and puns so vile that they may cause a rash.

Yet somehow, I have very rarely walked away from a Wynorski flick without a smile on my face. I have an odd weakness for the very aspects of his work that make others run screaming. Or, the aspects that make others fix me with a glare that could kill a man every 30 seconds, in the case of my girlfriend when I made her watch this with me for the review.

Now, it's worth noting that Not Of This Earth is a remake of an earlier Roger Corman film, and one of the films that Corman directed himself instead of just producing. Sometime in the mid-1990s, Corman got big into producing remakes of earlier films he'd produced, but this seems to be one of the first times he decided to go that route. Amusingly, amongst those 90s remakes was a second remake of Not Of This Earth, but I have not seen that version and am thus unable to comment on how it compares to the other two.

At any rate, the film starts off by making certain we know we're in for a Wynorski film with stock footage. Literally, the first thing we see after the studio logo is the Quest from Galaxy of Terror zooming through space. Hilariously, the film uses reversed footage of the Quest taking off from its home planet to indicate it approaching Earth. After the stock footage ends, we see a young couple getting hot and heavy in an old car just as strange lights streak across the sky.

Naturally, the young couple ignores this at their own peril, for they don't see a strange man in a dark suit, fedora, and sunglasses (Arthur Roberts) approaching their car with a briefcase. The man quickly kills the male half of the couple by crushing his throat--and then he takes his sunglasses off, which causes a cartoon effect to apparently drain the woman's life force out of her eyes and mouth. The man in the suit carefully opens the car door and situates the woman so that her head hangs out of the door frame (and so that her bare breasts are clearly visible, naturally) before opening the briefcase to reveal a strange device that he sticks to her throat. The device then drains her blood, while the man sits in silent contemplation--and then opens his eyes to reveal they are pure white and glowing.

Turn around, Bright Eyes!
And, hoo boy, the stock footage really kicks into gear now because the entire opening credit sequence is made up of stock footage from previous Corman films. Now, the odd part is there is no common thread to the stock footage. Sure, the footage borrowed from Forbidden WorldGalaxy of Terror (including the infamous maggot rape scene, presumably as an easy way to include even more boobs), Battle Beyond The Stars, and Battle Beyond The Sun all involve space or aliens. However, but there's also a lot of footage from Humanoids From The Deep, a shot of a castle from The Raven, and a brief appearance by the awesome little stop-motion fish critter from Piranha. None of those things are aliens or are even space related!

"My agent is so fired."
At any rate, the movie resumes outside a private clinic. An old black car pulls up in front of the clinic, parking on the wrong side of the road, in a no parking zone, in front of a fire hydrant. Our mysterious man in a suit gets out of the car, now wearing sunglasses. He walks into the clinic and introduces himself to the nurse at the front desk, Nadine Story (Traci Lords, in her first "legitimate" role), as Mr. Johnson. As a side note, the nurse's outfit Nadine is wearing would be looked upon as ridiculous even if this were one of Ms. Lords's porn roles.

Johnson implores Nadine that he has come to the clinic because he needs an emergency transfusion of blood right away. Nadine tries to explain that they'll need a blood test first, but Johnson refuses. Nadine has Johnson take a seat while she calls the doctor out, briefly notating that Johnson clutches his ears in pain when she presses the buzzer to summon the doctor. When Doctor Rochelle (Ace Mask) comes out to the front, he reiterates to Johnson precisely what Nadine already told him.

However, Rochelle still sees Johnson into the examination room. When Rochelle continues to refuse to give the man a transfusion, Johnson decides to demonstrate why he can't submit to a test by grabbing a scalpel (why was that out in the open?!) and slashing his wrist. Rochelle is astounded because the deep cut doesn't bleed, though Johnson assures him that it will bleed shortly but even then only a little. Rochelle is still hesitant to just pump a guy full of blood without any tests first, so we hear Johnson's voice echoing as he telepathically compels Rochelle--the doctor can run all the tests he wants in service of helping Johnson, but will be utterly unable to discuss his findings with anyone else.

Rochelle has Nadine administer the transfusion to Johnson. Johnson rather puts Nadine off because he speaks oddly and is clearly unaware of social cues. However, he ends up asking her if she would be willing to come to his house and administer daily transfusions to him in exchange for more money than she currently makes. Nadine politely declines, but also says she will only do so if Dr. Rochelle orders her to. Naturally, we cut to just that happening. Starting that very evening, Nadine will go to take care of Mr. Johnson directly with daily infusions of Type O.

However, when Nadine escorts Johnson to his car, she finds her police officer boyfriend, Harry (Rodger Lodge), gleefully writing up a slew of tickets for all the parking regulations that Johnson has violated. Nadine uses her charms to persuade Harry to let it slide for now. She advises him she's going to be taking care of Mr. Johnson regularly going forward and the two discuss tentative plans to have dinner soon before Johnson drives off. Arriving home, Johnson is greeted by his apparent butler, Jeremy (Lenny Juliano), who appears to be a Brooklyn Guy who wandered off a space exploration picture. Jeremy chides his boss for taking the car when he barely knows how to drive.

Johnson instructs Jeremy to prepare a room for Nadine and then says he will be in the cellar and is not to be disturbed. This is clearly a common arrangement, since Jeremy happily accepts it, but when his boss takes a bottle of blood out of his strange silver briefcase to place in the basement freezer, Jeremy decides to poke at the insides of the case. Johnson reappears and almost crushes Jeremy's trachea, assuring his employee that he will be eliminated if he is caught snooping again--and he clearly means in the mortal sense. In a hilariously overwrought bit that should be too broad to be funny but somehow makes me chuckle anyway, Johnson tells Jeremy he does not need his servant to prepare dinner for him because, "I will be dining [pause for sinister organ riff] out."

By which he means out of the movie, because what follows is one of the most shameless uses of stock footage I have ever seen. We see the golden retriever from Humanoids From The Deep tracking the trail of slime left by a humanoid, only for it to start barking at--Johnson. The dog tries to attack him and we hear its yelp of pain reach the ears of actress Lynn Theel back in more footage from Humanoids From The Deep. In fact, we are about to watch the entirety of the scene in that film where Theel hears something outside and goes creeping through her house, being startled by everything from a phone call to a shirt falling off a hanger with a "sword unsheathing" sound effect.

Finally, she sees a shadow outside her front door and someone or something rattles the doorknob as she cautiously approaches with a knife in hand...and then we cut to Johnson appearing in the house, while an actress that looks nothing like Lynn Theel whirls around and gets her cartoon lifeforce drained before Johnson sets up his blood machine next to her limp body. Hilariously, this preserves the question of, "Who the fuck was at the door?"

Hilariously, the movie will be even more shameless with its stock footage later.

Nadine arrives at Johnson's house that evening and is greeted by Jeremy. While he immediately begins to sleazily flirt with her, she takes an instant dislike to him--particularly when she observes that he keeps a gun under his jacket. However, Jeremy is all too happy to show her to Johnson's study. Johnson greets her happily and offers to show her to her room, though when she remarks that she's dying to see it he dryly responds, "You are not dying. I am dying."

Alien vampires, tsk, tsk: no appreciation for hyperbole.

Jeremy lets slip that they've only been living in the house for a month, which apparently annoys Johnson as he sends Jeremy to go make sure all the doors are locked and to bring in Nadine's bags. He shows her to her room and wishes her good night since he does not need her services tonight. However, he freaks her out by locking her room door from the outside when he takes his leave. He expresses shock at her dismay, since where he comes from no one would dare sleep with an unlocked door, but when she asks where he's from he simply says good night.

Well, it's time for one of the film's weirder choices as Johnson decides to out in an alien Skype call to his home planet of Davanna. This involves sitting in a chair and pointing a kitbashed grocery scanner at the wall, which activates a hidden sliding door to reveals small, glowing chamber. Cartoon energy then takes the form of a man (Zoran Hochstätter) dressed all in black, wearing sunglasses, with a righteous beard and long white hair.

The two converse telepathically, and with overly florid "alien syntax" dialogue. During their conversation we also see footage of Morganthus from Galaxy of Terror, which almost workss when we see the graveyard of alien ships, but the shots of the Quest crew wandering around the matte paintings inside the pyramid look kinda silly and the shot of the pyramid glowing is just distracting. Essentially, the planet Davanna is dying and the prisoners of war from their glory days are no longer enough to sustain their need for blood. The people of Earth, referred to as "subhuman", may hold the key to Davanna's salvation in their blood. Therefore, Blues Brother Santa advises Johnson that he shall carry out a five-stage plan to determine if that is so. The first phase is to study Earth people, phase two is to send more Earth blood back to Davanna, phase three is to send a live specimen back for vivisection, phase four is determining the value of Earth blood based on whether Johnson lives or dies, and phase five is conquest of Earth if he lives. After that's established, the alien returns to Davanna via more cartoon energy.

The next morning, Jeremy cooks Johnson breakfast--which includes dropping a pancake on his shoe and hoping the boss won't notice. However, when he brings the food to Johnson, he mentions that he's beginning to take it personally that his boss never seems to eat his cooking. Johnson ignores that and asks Jeremy to return some library books for him and check out a few more after he brings Nadine her breakfast. Jeremy is astounded that Johnson read the books in one night, but Johnson writes it off as a consequence of requiring very little sleep.

At any rate, Jeremy is not present to see Johnson pour something into the glass of water on his breakfast tray. Something that causes the water to change color and then emit a cartoon mushroom cloud (!) before he drinks it. Nadine, meanwhile is naked and toweling herself off after a shower when Jeremy brings her breakfast into her bedroom. She asks him to set the tray down, not realizing the mirror in the bedroom faces the bathroom at the perfect angle for Jeremy to get a great view of her. Naturally, Jeremy is all too happy to talk about his employment with Johnson to her as an excuse to leer at her.

Admittedly, he is probably a bit confused by the fact she is clearly wearing high heels in the mirror's reflection but when we see her in the bathroom she is barefoot.

At any rate, Jeremy reveals that Johnson pays him $3,000 a week--in gold. Also, as part of his dutiess is to ensure that no one ever goes down to the cellar, including Jeremy. When Nadine once again rebuffs his advances, he points out the mole on her butt check to tip her off.

"Wait...I don't have a mole!"
After giving Johnson his daily infsuon, Nadine observes he seems very healthy. The two briefly discuss the nature of death before he dismisses her and she mentions she intends to try out his pool to pass away the rest of the day. At the pool, she bumps into Jeremy cleaning it. He sort of apologizes for his behavior earlier, but Nadine doesn't buy it. Considering he continues to leer at her and try to hit on her with awkward jokes about fishing for mermaids, she's probably got the right of it.

Meanwhile, the musical doorbell gets Johnson's attention and he finds himself confronted by a pushy vacuum cleaner salesman (Michael DeLano), which was a role played by Dick Miller in the original film and DeLano does his best to imitate Miller, but naturally he falls a bit short. At any rate, the salesman manages to convince Johnson to let him demonstrate the effect his vacuum can have in his cellar--because Johnson intends to keep him there. So the cartoon soul-sucking effect takes place and, presumably after draining him of blood, Johnson stuffs the body into his furnace.

Jeremy heads into town for a nother errand and we cut to Rochelle at a bus stop, being annoyed by Monique Gabrielle dressed up like an old lady and providing a performance that comes off like a a subpar Amanda Bynes character from the days of her Nickelodeon sketch show. It's honestly not worth getting into, but at any rate Harry happens upon Rochelle and offers him a lift to Johnson's house. Meanwhile, Nadine notices the smoke coming from the chimney and decides to go snooping. She picks the lock on the cellar door using a bobby pin and goes inside. She starts to open the furnace when a noise attracts her attention to a shelf of empty bottles. Unfortunately, she took her sunglasses off to get a better look and when she hears a car horn she forgets them on the shelf.

As Nadine goes to greet Rochelle and Harry, Jeremy pulls up at the same time. Harry recognizes Jeremy as a small-time criminal that he's busted in the past. Jeremy objects that he's completely legit now and Nadine actually takes Jeremy's side on this. Rochelle goes to visit with Johnson in his study. What Rochelle has found out really isn't a shock to Johnson, as he's aware that the blood is essentially evaporating in his veins. Jeremy and Harry have a minor posturing contest, which Nadine mostly ignores, and then when Harry leaves she asks if Jeremy swiped her sunglasses since she can't find them. Jeremy takes the casual accusation pretty well, jokingly suggesting that Johnson may have kept them for his private collection.

Of course, right then Johnson is actually in the cellar stoking the furnace and tinkering with his bottles--but he seems to just miss noticing the sunglasses. That evening Jeremy is driving Johnson around when he stops at a traffic light and the car is immediately approached by three hookers. Jeremy honks the horn to try and drive them off, but just succeeds in hurting Johnson's head since he can't handle the noise. However, when Jeremy explains what the three women are after, Johnson decides it's a brilliant way to get an easy supply of blood and has Jeremy invite them back to the house. Flashing some cash is all the incentive they need to go along with it.

To Jeremy's dismay, Johnson orders him up to his room instead of letting him party with the trio of hookers, too. However, that's because he invites them down to the cellar, and at no point do any of them think maybe they're about to be killed. Johnson waits until two of them are topless (Wynorksi makes a point on the commentary track with Traci Lords that it's still a sore spot for him that the third would not strip) and then pulls off his sunglasses to drain their lifeforce.

Meanwhile, Nadine is having ridiculous movie sex with Harry of the sort that involves flipping your hair around dramatically. As they lie in the afterglow, she asks why he wanted to be a cop and he gives a non-committal answer before asking about Johnson. All Nadine can tell him is she knows very little about Johnson, aside from his condition and that he's up to something in his basemetn. And he's working on that something right then, as a matter of fact, which involves stoking the furnace and then calling for Jeremy to help with a large silver suitcase he's just placed more full bottles into.

As Harry walks Nadine home, featuring some truly uncomfortable innuendo dialogue, Jeremy hefts the large suitcase into Johnson's study. Nadine walks in and asks Johnson if he's ready for his transfusion and he tells her to give him an hour, which he uses to transmit the suitcase of blood to Davanna. Harry, meanwhile, is back at the police station where a harried detective is fielding a phone call from the press. After he hangs up, he confirms to Harry that the woman they just found was the eighth victim and all of them have been found with puncture wounds on the throat and drained of blood, which the press is having a field day with. So far the lab guys can't figure out the cause of death or how the blood is being removed, so they're nowhere nearer to cracking the case.

As Nadine tends to Johnson, he asks about her relationship with Harry and then reveals he had a partner but they are currently separated. He then asks Nadine about something he's been researching:the uranium method of cancer detection and treatment. No one knows why the uranium goes to the cancer cells, so he asks Nadine if it could be that the cancer is charged with negative energy and if so, could that lead to a cure? I rather doubt that, space man. Nadine's reaction is oddly more "unnerved" than "placating the delusional old man." In fact, she seems to be unnerved enough to lock her bedroom door later and take the key.

Meanwhile, since it's been a few minutes since we last had some nudity, Johnson goes to answer the door and is greeted by a Strip-O-Gram (Becky LeBeau) with bad eyesight. Naturally, she has already taken her top off by the time they both figure out the mistake. Jeremy watched up to this point, but he is not watching when the stripper goes to leave and Johnson uses his mental powers to make her follow him back to the study. As the topless woman rather comically stands next to him, he signals to the bearded weirdo that he has a live specimen to send back. However, the Davanna representative warns that order is breaking down and phase four must be sped up as much as possible. Johnson assures him that he will know the result within three Earth days, and then compels the stripper to "enter the beam." Once inside the chamber, she grabs a lever and apparently the compulsion wears off just enough to allow her to scream as the cartoon energy whisks her away.

"Well, my agent did promise me that this was my ticket to the stars!"
The next morning, Nadine notices the food on the breakfast tray that Jeremy brings back from the study hasn't been touched--and then notices the water glass. It's discolored and has a chemical smell. Nadine asks what Jeremy knows about Johnson and Jeremy laughs because he knows more than he wants to. Jeremy met Johnson because he broke into the house to rob it and bumped into Johnson, who offered him a job on the spot. Stranger than that is the fact that Jeremy has been noticing an alarming amount of people come to the house but then he never sees them leave, like the three hookers.

Jeremy and Nadine make a deal that they'll both stick it out at the house together and try to find out what Johnson is up to. Nadine's first order of business is to take the water glass to Rochelle to have it analyzed. She does this wearing a truly astounding fuzzy sweater, I might add. She tells Rochelle it's a food supplement she wants analyzed but doesn't mention Johnson. She has to leave when a call comes in for her from Harry and then Rochelle's other nurse walks in with a large glass jar of blood, which she advises Rochelle is from a dog bite victim who has tested positive for rabies. Rochelle has her put it in the cooler to be disposed of later and advises he'll notify the hospital where the victim was treated.

Nadine and Harry make plans for the evening at a fancy restaurant, since Harry caught the owner speeding with someone who wasn't the man's wife so apparently he was offered a discount. Rochelle advises he should have the test results around the time Nadine set her plans for, but she tells him where she'll be and then says she swing by early in the morning.

Meanwhile, the beam chamber at Johnson's activates itself. Johnson hears it and goes to find that the beam has materialized a woman (Rebecca Perle) dressed only in heels, a Vampirella-esque swimsuit, and sunglasses.

"I was told this planet was warm, so I may have under-dressed a tad."
Johnson reprimands her for using the beam without authorization, but she tells him she was fleeing for her lie from the mobs who have overrun the council. His bearded liaison has fled to the safety of an outer world colony and Johnson's mate was killed for her blood. He accepts that the woman was right to flee. However, things are even worse than they seem, for when his live specimen arrived on Davanna, she had been crushed to the size of a vase on Johnson's desk and the council suspects that it may not be possible to transmit a human back through the beam from this orbit, which would mean they are trapped on Earth.

I suppose we're to assume that the bearded guy was not actually transporting himself to Johnson's study, then, or he'd have been crushed earlier, too.

Johnson then says he will send another live specimen back tonight to see if their fears are founded, but as she urgently tells him she needs blood he assures her he knows where she can get some. He advises her to go upstairs and borrow some Earth clothes from Nadine--and then hands her Nadine's sunglasses to wear instead of her own.

Rochelle interrupts Nadine and Harry at dinner because he simply must discuss what he found out about the so-called supplement. It contains all necessary nutrients and vitamins, plus a few he'd never seen before. Meanwhile, Johnson and the space girl are breaking into Rochelle's clinic by using telekinesis to break a window. And Rochelle suddenly clams up about the strange supplement as soon as Nadine reveals it was Johnson who supplied it to her.

Hilariously, Johnson then grabs the jar of rabid blood and uses it to feed an IV into the space girl. To be fair, given that the blood is labelled "Caution: Rabid" only on the very bottom, this was bound to happen to somebody. He writes off her complaints of feeling disturbed and sensing activity inside her as just her getting used to the Earth blood. For the sake of caution, he then gives her money and tells her to go to a nearby hotel and how to communicate with sub-humans. However, she does not make it to the hotel because she is waylaid by four punks who want to rob or assault her.

One of those punks is wearing a cape and carrying a kitchen knife (!) with him. This will become significant shortly, because after the lead punk strikes her, she turns on the group with latex caked on her face to..indicate rabies, I guess? She beats them all into submission, then stabs the caped punk with his own knife before stealing both his knife and his cape, which actually turns out to be a cloak. She then walks into the night--and into another stock footage sequence, this time lifted from Hollywood Boulevard.

Now, I have not seen this film, but the fact that we now see a woman in distinctly 70s clothes wandering a dark, smoky backlot in search of a poodle before being stalked by a cloaked figure makes it pretty damn obvious. It's especially hilarious because immediately after the sequence ends with the cloaked figure successfully stabbing her victim to death, we cut to the space girl bursting into Rochelle's clinic and collapsing in front of the nurse. It does seem a bit odd that she would decide to stalk and kill a completely random person before seeking frantic medical attention. Rochelle rushes out and determines that the space girl is still barely alive so they rush her into the exam room.

The woman quickly expires, however. When Rochelle removes her sunglasses, the nurse screams because the woman has no eyes. Rochelle orders her to call an ophthalmologist and to notify the police.

Remember, kids: never look directly at a solar eclipse.
Back at Johnson's house, Nadine walks in just in time to get a phone call from Harry. (Ah, the days before cell phones) He informs her that a dead woman showed up at the clinic with no ID and fingerprints not matching anything in the system and Harry thinks the dead woman is tied up with Johnson since she was wearing one of Nadine's dresses--a dress Nadine designed herself, in fact. Jeremy walks up at that point and Nadine tells Harry, over his objections, that she and Jeremy are going to do some investigating.

Jeremy confirms he saw Johnson leave with a woman he didn't see come in, wearing a slinky black dress. That seals it for Nadine and she suggests they start by searching the study. They find a jar of strange pills and then the beam device, which Nadine accidentally activates. However it has some kind of a barrier keeping her out. Jeremy asks if this means Johnson is a Martian, and Nadine responds that she doesn't care, she's gonna smash it to pieces. My favorite gag in the film follows as Jeremy tries to stop her, suggested she shouldn't screw around with it since it might blow up. "I. Never. Screw. Around," Nadine replies, jabbing Jeremy to emphasize each word before she turns and begins pounding on the barrier with the device.

"My God: he comes from a planet of mimes."
Well, it's a futile gesture anyway and Nadine decides that Jeremy should search the cellar while she looks upstairs. Rochelle calls her just then and, while he continues to avoid the subject whenever Johnson is mentioned, he advises that the dead woman has a lot of strange characteristics but she died of rabies because someone must have broken in and pumped her full of the rabid blood, which somehow destroyed all of her blood cells in under an hour. At this point, Johnson pulls into the driveway and Jeremy finds a human skull in the furnace.

Rochelle explains that the woman came from an area of all-out nuclear war, which caused her blood to be destroyed the way it was before the rabies finished the job. He believes, however, she could have been cured by being removed from that environment and receiving a full transfusion of blood. When Nadine asks if that would cure Johnson, Rochelle gets irritated and tries to change the subject before hanging up when Nadine presses him. Unfortunately, Johnson had already picked up the downstairs receiver and he warns Nadine to wait for him upstairs.

Nadine tries to escape, but Johnson catches her on the stairs and uses his mind whammy to stop her in place. He tells her she will be the next live specimen he sends to Davanna. Jeremy heroically rushes in and shouts, "Hey, Klingon!" before shooting Johnson with that gun he's been carrying. Unfortunately, Johnson is only winged and retaliates by using his eyes to kill Jeremy. That allows Nadine to break free of his hold, however, and she runs back to try and call Harry for help. Johnson grabs her, but Nadine's scream hurts him and she flees into the countryside after wisely ditching her heels.

Johnson taunts her telepathically by saying she cannot hide because she can conceal her person, but he can find her mind. Harry can't reach Nadine at the house because the phone is off the hook in addition to her running for her life at the moment. However, Nadine makes it to a phone booth--and I can't help but be amused by how Traci Lords is very clearly holding the front of her dress up to keep from bouncing right out of it--and calls Harry. She just has time to say that Johnson is after her with murderous intent and to give her rough location before Johnson's car looms into view and she has to run away. Given this film's budget, it's not shocking that Johnson carefully drives around the phone booth rather than smashing it.

Harry heads off on his motorcycle after asking Rochelle to call the station to send backup. Johnson is forced to chase Nadine on foot and I find myself far too amused by the fact that he telepathically commands her to, "Stop running," over and over. As Harry and his partner speed to the scene on their motorcycles, Johnson finally gets close enough to Nadine for his mental compulsion to affect her again. He tells her that the first live specimen was crushed, but she will be sent back to see if she suffers the same fate. However, before he can get her into the car, Johnson senses the cops approaching and orders her to walk back to the house while he draws them away.

Johnson kills Harry's partner with his eyes. Harry sees Nadine when he stops to check on his companion and after she confirms Johnson killed the man with his eyes, Harry tells her to wait there while he goes after Johnson. So naturally she continues on to the house. Hilariously, now Johnson does take out a row of mailboxes and then some garbage cans, but it could not be more painfully obvious that the mailboxes were on posts made of styrofoam. Despite walking slowly, Nadine somehow makes it back to the house in the amount of time it takes for Johnson and Harry to speed several miles down the highway.

Johnson repeatedly tries to kill Harry with his eyes, but can't because his pursuer refuses to look into his eyes. However, just as Nadine enters the beam and places her hand on the lever, Harry randomly decides to sound his siren. Johnson reacts in pain and loses control of his car, before we see that familiar stock footage from Humanoids From The Deep of a pick-up truck going over a bridge and exploding at the bottom. Nadine snaps out of her compulsion just in time, and we see Dr. Rochelle shake his off, as well. (I'll address why this is disappointing shortly) In the burning wreckage of his car, Johnson's dead, glowing eyes stare forward.

The film ends with Harry and Nadine standing at a gravestone marked, "Here Lies A Man Who Was Not Of This Earth." Harry mentions feeling sorry for Johnson, but Nadine doesn't. She reasons that since he didn't have emotions, as we know them, that it's pointless to feel sympathy for him. She sees Johnson as just a foreign thing that came to Earth to destroy us--which leaves me wondering who sprang for the gravestone. As Harry and Nadine depart, a man in a suit, fedora, and sunglasses walks up carrying a silver briefcase and we get a title card reading, "The End?"

Meet "Sir Not Appearing In This Film." We'll talk more about it shortly,
The story behind this movie's existence is rather fascinating. Jim Wynorski had found an old reel of the film and loved it, and somehow when talking to Roger Corman about the film, Wynorski made a bet that he could remake the film using the original film's shooting schedule and the same budget, albeit adjusted for inflation. And Wynorski accomplished that goal quite handily.

Of course, it helps when you save money by shamelessly using stock footage.

Wynorski's remake is almost too faithful to the original at times, right down to reusing a majority of the dialogue and putting its nurses in uniforms that would be more at home in the original. This is not to say that the original is a bad film, mind you--far from it--but dialogue that seems a bit quaint in a 1950s film is cringeworthy when reproduced in a 1980s one.

The film makes some updates, of course, with more recent pop culture references and mentions of the AIDS crisis--and then, of course, the things you can do in a 1988 film that you could never get away with in the 1950s. Any chance Wynorski can find to update the original film to include either nudity or skimpy outfits, he goes for it. Unfortunately, he also makes a rather disappointing choice that I can only assume was due to budget or not having a suitable stock footage facsimile to use: he does not include Johnson's pet monster.

In the original film, Johnson had a mysterious tube that he kept in his briefcase and before chasing after Nadine, he opened the tube and revealed that it contained a creature that looked sort of like a lobster, octopus, and a bat got merged. Johnson then sent the beast to kill Dr. Rochelle for accidentally revealing too much to Nadine. The creature flew to the clinic and then killed Rochelle by crushing his head. Plot-wise, its removal doesn't really damage the film and I suppose it can be argued that it actually improves the flow of the climax, but it's at the cost of a fun rubber monster attack.

As for the film's own merits, well, there's no question its eccentric soundtrack by Chuck Cirino is going to put many folks off. The special effects that are original to the film are rather unimpressive, as they all involve a lot of cartoon energy effects that are more painfully dated than anything in the original film. And, of course, there are some terrible, terrible jokes and lines that are original to the film because this is Jim Wynorski we're talking about.

However, the acting in the film is pretty good, though there are definitely some weak minor players. Obviously, the standout was always going to be Traci Lords because of the novelty of her first non-porn role--and Lords assails her first "serious" role (and the last to feature her doing nudity) with gusto. It's clear that she is still new to actually having to act beyond an excuse to string together sex scenes, but she manages to sell a lot of lines that even seasoned actors would fumble on. And one has to remember that she was taking over for Beverly Garland and those are some tough shoes to fill. I think Lords does a fine job.

There's little question that the original film is better, but I have to say that I consider this to be a great time. I also absolutely understand why many of you may already be looking at me in befuddlement. My girlfriend spent almost the film's entire running time glaring at me after a bad joke or bit of sleaze and she wasn't wrong to do so. If you don't have a tolerance for Jim Wynorski, it's likely you will find this agonizing. However, if you're looking for a movie to satisfy your inner 12-year-old, this will do nicely.

Though it must be said the film's poster is a hilariously blatant lie on two counts: One, that alien looming over the Earth never appears in the film--I'm pretty sure the rubber monster in the original film was included to keep its poster from being similarly false. Two, the title swears "Traci Lords is... NOT OF THIS EARTH" when she absolutely is.

Somehow, I doubt that many people actually complained at the time, if only because they should have been used to Corman films lying to them by then.

Click the banner above to take yourself to the HubrisWeen central blog and see what everyone else chose for N!

1 comment:

  1. I dunno, that line about Traci Lords could be taken in multiple ways...

    But seriously, this makes a fun double feature with the original. Bless Roger Corman, what other producer would re-make his own movies?