Netflix Review: Not Of This Earth

Not Of This Earth
Netflix Streaming
Directed by Jim Wynorski
Starring Traci Lords, Arthur Roberts, Ace Mask, Becky LeBeau
Originally Released: May 13, 1988

Heading for a change of pace in our weekly Netflix Streaming Review, this week we take a look at the cheesiness and campiness of the classic and cult B-Grade sci-fi flick, Not Of This Earth. The film has the distinct fame for being Traci Lords‘ first “serious” mainstream acting vehicle after her first few adult film flings. The movie is a flashback to an era of filmmaking when B-Grade flicks had their own culture and fan following, when it was acceptable and almost mandatory to include a bad story with bad acting, but special effects and lots of boobs. That is the way of things when it comes to movies like Not Of This Earth.

First off, this movie is totally campy, cheesy, and ill budgeted – it’s best to be aware of these elements before going into viewing it. In fact, it is so stuck in the 1980s, it has a nude tittie shot followed by awful keyboard-induced music within the first five minutes of the film – it’s so seamlessly done and indicative of the era that it puts both Flesh Gordon movies to shame. But that’s what these movies were all about both back in the day and in this day looking at it in retrospective.

Not Of This Earth is in point of fact a remake of an earlier horror/sci-fi classic from the 1950s. While campy and cheesy, the remake most certainly pays fine tribute to the original version, which was just as b-grade as well. The original film was directed by Roger Corman, and somewhat designed for consumption among the flood of science fiction horror flicks that dominated the “drive-in theaters”; so the remake fits the mold just as well as the original.

While the movie follows the exact same plot and mold as the 1957 original, remake director Jim Wynorsky doesn’t execute it as well, despite the fact that the original Roger Corman himself produces this feature. The concept is that an alien race, known as the Davannans, is dying from illness while their planet is being destroyed by radioactive warfare. Their only hope seems to be the blood of the primitive human race on Earth, which appears to be (inexplicably) the only compatible blood for someone from Davanna. Taking on the guise of a human, one of the aliens assumes the name Mr. Johnson, and begins his quest for transporting the blood of healthy, youthful, (and sometimes nude and female) humans to his home planet.

The astonishingly young Traci Lords puts in an amusing performance, her very first professional role; with frequent nude scenes showing off the other “assets” that she was better known for before this era. Lords was a porn star, which most know – what is often forgotten was that she lied about her age, and was arrested when it was learned that she was performing in adult films underage. The hullabaloo actually aided her in getting noticed, and Not Of This Earth is the first film in her mainstream career while continuing some porn work on the side.

Her inclusion in the movie was a huge bonus for sci-fi fans back in the day, and has generated a significant nostalgic effect for (mostly male) fans that grew up during this time. Lords is a vivid addition to the film though, and is quite literally an asset that delivers a reasonable job, some nice comedic moments, and also some wonderful eye candy moments "that’ll bring a tear to yer eyes”¦"

Arthur Roberts portrays the alien Mr. Johnson (that has to be a dick reference right there), but actually does it so well. He is monotone and plain, but Roberts pulls off Johnson (pun intended) so well in this movie that it’s remarkable – the one exemption being the short blooper caught on camera during the closing credits. Considering how poor the quality is and laughable the content is, his deadpan approach is nothing short of sheer discipline and brilliance. Additionally, I could never work out who played his chief alien boss dude, but whoever he was, he looked a hell of a lot like John Kalodner.

The scriptwriting of Not Of This Earth is extremely poor, with many sequences and scenes and appearances seeming to be inexplicable or having no meaning whatsoever. There is no basis in the science, or any science in the basis of the plot for that matter; and for the most part the acting is below acceptable standards. You can even play "spot the boom mic" in numerous scenes.

Therefore let’s be clear about this movie…

If you are after analytical acclaim and Oscar-worthy performances, then avoid this flick at all costs. Not Of This Earth is for the sci-fi fan that has a high appreciation level for B-Grade movies that have matured (like crappy wine) into being cult masterworks. There’s not a lot of sense to the plot, and not a lot of depth to the acting – but the entire experience is a whole bunch of fun that is a bit of a wild nostalgia trip as well.

There is a comedic countenance to Not Of This Earth that is often overlooked by fans of the genre. While most of these films age horribly and end up being worse in later years than they were when they were released; the humor elements in this movie actually stand up to the test of time, and tie in nicely with both the integrated innuendo and the alien invasion element as well. It’s a credit to the film makers, in all honesty. I found myself losing it frequently during the movie – with the funniest being the Strip-O-Gram who needs glasses”¦ absolutely sidesplitting!

Sadly, Not Of This Earth is a huge and disappointing let-down when it comes to the special effects department. The opening sequence is chock full of classic practical visual effects, having been made before the availability of CGI, but this credit sequence features scenes that have absolutely ZERO to do with the overall movie. During this opening, there’s a whole bunch of effects using stop-motion, models, practical make-up effects, slow motion – all to push the gore element to great effect.

In spite of having paid much homage to the "Savini School Of Gore" during the opening sequence, the special effects duo of James M Navarra and Jim Stewart have done extremely little during the course of the actual main feature itself. This is highly disappointing, because these horror / sci-fi flicks were acknowledged for their cheesy campiness, their frequent nudity, and their gore effects. In Not Of This Earth, we get the campiness and the nudity, but none of the gore. Its absence actually ruins the film”¦

As far as b-grade movies are concerned, this element is as mandatory as having fries with your burger – after all, this isn’t a fine dining experience we’re talking about here; but you still want to enjoy what you’re getting.

On that note though, there is one really weird aspect of the horror element in this film. In the middle of the movie, with no explanation, there is a slasher / serial killer scene. A girl is looking for her poodle and is then chased by a stabby killer with his stabby knife. This scene has absolutely NO bearing on our story whatsoever!! We never find out who the killer is, we never find out the significance of the girl, and most importantly, we never find out why she named her fucking poodle “Fluffy”!

Is Not Of This Earth worth checking out? If you’re a fan of B-Grade flicks, then yes, it is absolutely worth adding this to your queue to check out. There are some wonderful redeeming elements that stand the test of time, mostly the humor; but it also is a fine representation of some of the cheesy films from the era, so it’s a nice nostalgia taste. On the other hand, if you’re not a fan of cult B films, perhaps you should get to the “fine dining” partition of Netflix and avoid our happy little “burger joint” area.

Overall Rating: 2½ out of 5
(Add another point if you’re a B-Grade Movie Fan)


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