Roger Corman is executive producer and schlock-meister Jim Wynorski is director of 1988's NOT OF THIS EARTH, a campy remake of the campy Corman-directed classic. And in typical Corman style, it offers everything a B-movie fan could want: A goofy tongue-in-cheek plot that is barely more than a re-hash of the original; cheesy special FX, a good number of which were lifted from other Corman films; mediocre acting from some of the supporting cast; and lots of gratuitous female nudity. And also as with most films in which Corman has his hands, it is LOTS of fun to watch.
Gorgeous former hardcore adult-film star Traci Lords--here in her first "legit" starring role and the last role in which she completely disrobes for the camera--portrays a private-care nurse who unwittingly assists an extraterrestrial vampire in draining low-lifes and bimbos of their blood so that he can send the vital red stuff back to the hungry folks on his home planet of Devanna. It doesn't take long, though, before the nurse and her policeman boyfriend (Roger Lodge--yes, THAT Roger Lodge) begin to suspect that something strange and dangerous is going on. But can they solve the mystery quickly enough to save the city's remaining low-lifes and bimbos?
During the shooting and post-production of this film, there was a lot of hullabaloo about Traci Lords being cast in the lead role. Many thought that casting the former star of XXX-rated films was just a gimmick to gain publicity for the project, and while it did indeed do that, Ms. Lords' performance in NOT OF THIS EARTH is top-notch and professional and acquits her of the charges of being nothing more than shapely eye-candy. And for the most part, the other actors do a great job of supporting Ms. Lords. Arthur Roberts--looking like one of THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980)--delightfully parodies the stoic, awkward, out-of-his-element extraterrestrial that has become a sci-fi cliché. As the alien's clueless butler and chauffeur, Lenny Juliano has good onscreen chemistry with star Lords and really hams it up. And actor Ace Mask, playing the doctor who assigns Lords to work with the alien, is delightfully quirky and a real hoot whenever he's on the screen.
The only odd casting choice is that of Roger Lodge for the role of Lords' boyfriend. Filmgoers may recognize Lodge from his gig as host of TV's flaky syndicated dating show BLIND DATE. While Lords' performance in this film demonstrates why she has become a ubiquitous presence on TV and on film, Lodge's performance demonstrates why he's been relegated to hosting a low-brow late-night TV show. Traci Lords and Roger Lodge in bed together? That ineffable mismatch is like something from Lodge's BLIND DATE.
Rumor has it that this film came about as the result of a wager between Corman and Wynorski that the younger director wouldn't be able to shoot an adequate remake if restricted to the same 12-day shooting schedule and a similar budget. Well, Wynorski rose to the challenge and actually succeeded. So yes, this version of NOT OF THIS EARTH is a cheap production with lots of cheap tongue-in-cheek humor, cheap over-the-top performances, cheap FX & recycled film footage, and cheap busty bimbos--not to mention the beautiful and classy Ms. Lords--providing gratuitous eye-popping T&A. Nobody has tried to deny that the film is a cheesefest. But it's a highly entertaining cheesefest nonetheless, and in many ways it is better and more fun than Corman's original.
The DVD treatment of NOT OF THIS EARTH from New Concorde is pretty cool, especially considering that the film itself is a low-budget quickie. The disc offers a nice digital transfer of the film, generally free of filmic or digital artifacts, in what is apparently the film's original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. As for bonus material, an optional feature commentary with director Wynorski and supporting actor Lenny Juliano is a real hoot--often times funnier and campier than the film itself--and Wynorski also manages to relate some interesting and humorous anecdotes regarding the making of the film and points out a few technical errors. Also offered is the requisite original theatrical trailer. All in all, it's a great DVD value.
In short, viewers who love low-budget B-grade SF and horror movies will enjoy the 1988 remake of NOT OF THIS EARTH and will certainly want to add this cool DVD to their collections. (Fans of gorgeous Traci Lords will want to give it a spin, too.) But those who don't comprehend the entertainment value of watching well-crafted schlock should probably spend their money elsewhere.