Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Traci Lords Definitely Is

Those familiar with director Jim Wynorski’s habit of taking stock footage from more expensive Hollywood blockbusters to pad his own cheapies may be surprised at the extent he does here. In NOT OF THIS EARTH, the 1980s remake of Roger Corman’s 1957 B-movie, Wynorski (CHOPPING MALL) steals entire scenes from Corman productions like HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, GALAXY OF TERROR, FORBIDDEN WORLD, and HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, which results in sloppy continuity like an old ‘50s sedan turning miraculously into a ‘70s pickup truck just before it plunges off a bridge. Most hilarious is the opening title sequence, which recycles random footage behind Chuck Cirino’s catchy music.

Wynorski and R.J. Robertson’s screenplay follows that of the original film, penned by Charles B. Griffith and Mark Hanna, extremely closely. An invading alien called Mr. Johnson (REVENGE OF THE NINJA's Arthur Roberts) is here to test the blood of Earthlings and send it home to his planet, Davanna, to make sure his race can drink it. In his guise of an eccentric millionaire, he skulks around the city at night, draining people of their blood and returning home in time for his comely private nurse, Nadine (Traci Lords), to give him his nightly transfusion.

An amusing mixture of science fiction, horror, and T&A, NOT OF THIS EARTH is one of Wynorski’s finer efforts, thanks to its sense of humor and the surprisingly effective performance by 18-year-old Lords, who was starring in her first mainstream film after a notorious career in pornography. Not only does she look smashing in and out of a variety of bikinis, lingerie, and evening wear, but she comes across as an appealing heroine. Muggers like Lenny Juliano, Ace Mask, and Michael Delano (playing the memorable vacuum cleaner salesman essayed by Dick Miller in the Corman version) provide plenty of energy, while Becky LeBeau, Monique Gabrielle, Rebecca Perle, Ava Cadell, Roxanne Kernohan, Cynthia Thompson, and Kelli Maroney provide the pulchritude.

Shout Factory’s new DVD offers Wynorski’s film in widescreen for the first time since its Concorde theatrical release in 1988. Part of the company’s Roger Corman Cult Classics collection, the DVD includes two audio commentaries: one new track teaming Wynorski and Lords, who share nice camaraderie and enjoy reminiscing, and a Wynorski/Juliano track from the old Concorde/New Horizons DVD, which is also entertaining. Other extras include a short on-camera interview with Lords, who remembers NOT OF THIS EARTH with fondness; a still gallery; and trailers for this film, the 1957 original, STARCRASH, and GALAXY OF TERROR.

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