Review: Not of This Earth (1988)

Not of this Earth

Directed by Jim Wynorski
Starring Traci Lords, Arthur Roberts, Lenny Juliano

“I wanted to make tons of money, meet hot chicks, and do very little work.”

In 1988, Jim Wynorski was an overgrown, unkempt ogre of a man, complete with a scraggly beard and an untamable mane of blonde hair. As a director, he had helmed three films under legendary producer Roger Corman, each of them featuring bargain-box gore effects and an overabundance of naked women.

As a man, he had entered adolescence and gotten stuck.

“Big breasts are the cheapest special effects in the business,” Wynorski exclaimed in the 1998 documentary Some Nudity Required, an exposé of popular direct-to-video features of the ’80s and ’90s. “They’re always good,” he reiterated in a 2014 interview. “If you can find a beautiful girl, stacked, who can remember lines and act well, that is the perfect trio of things to look for.”

Wynorski has carved a career out of the female body, from Scream Queen Hot Tub Party in 1991 to Pleasure SpaHypnotika and Sexy Wives Sinsations for Cinemax in 2013. But perhaps his most memorable foray into breastploitation is Not of This Earth starring Traci Lords, an infamous adult film star whose claim to fame was appearing in pornographic films before the age of 18.

In her first ever mainstream movie role, Lords is never once believable as Nadine Story, a registered nurse providing in-home care to “Mr. Johnson,” a malevolent extra-terrestrial with a deadly disease that only continual human blood transfusions can counteract. After five to ten women have taken off their tops and/or died horrible deaths, Nadine becomes aware of Mr. Johnson’s secret origins and enlists the aid of her cop boyfriend to take down the alien.

The film’s tone is nearly identical to that of Wynorski’s Chopping Mall or Sorority House Massacre II – the film never takes itself seriously, but moves along at an admirable pace, only pausing to showcase another set of breasts the casting director has discovered or engage itself in silly, inane banter littered with eye-rolling sexual innuendo delivered by inadequate actors with all the charm and verbosity of the first 10 minutes of a softcore porno. Traci Lords’ nurse outfit is a Halloween costume, and the screenplay looks for any excuse to squeeze her into it, even when she’s attending to Mr. Johnson in his own home. The film’s centerpiece is an extended, voyeuristic nude sequence featuring Lords drying herself off with an undersized towel while Mr. Johnson’s harebrained chauffeur watches through a mirror.

Although Wynorski’s chief concern is bare breasts, he exhibits enthusiasm for well-timed comedy, not only with a steady stream of one-liners (“I’m sure I don’t think anything, Mr. Johnson,” Nadine states unironically), but also through music cues, camera movement and cute special effects. The film pays homage to sci-fi films of the ’50s with an electronic score featuring an artificial theremin (the curious instrument responsible for the high-pitched “ooOOoo” heard in The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Thing from Another World) and a cheesy, predictable plot cribbed almost entirely from Roger Corman’s original 1957 version of the film.

But while Sorority House Massacre II transcends its genre via over-the-top exaggerations of slasher film tropes and clichés, Not of This Earth is content to wallow in stupidity, presenting a simple-minded story in a simple-minded way. Wynorski is a talented filmmaker without a shred of ambition, content to make fun movies for beer-soaked evenings without exploring themes or ideas with any kind of insight. His films aren’t without merit, but they’re largely inconsequential.

Jim Wynorski makes tons of money, meets hot chicks, and does very little work. He’s living the life promised to him in movies and television commercials, playing the part of an oversexed, overpaid layabout squeezing every drop of pleasure from a meaningless profession.

Watching a Wynorski film isn’t at all unpleasant, but there are certainly better things to do with your time. As adults, we only have so much.

Links:

YouTube – Complete Film
YouTube – Original Trailer
YouTube – Opening Title Theme
YouTube – 1988 Traci Lords Interview
YouTube – 2014 Jim Wynorski Interview

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Comments
2 Responses to “Review: Not of This Earth (1988)”
  1. Megan says:

    I just bought this movie so I’m looking forward to watch it tonight.

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