You can tell from the start that the 1988 remake of “Not of This Earth” is going to be a blast, because the credits are compiled using scenes from entirely different films, with their only point of commonality being owned by Roger Corman. Full of goopy monsters attacking helpless humans, it establishes a loony sense of tongue-in-cheek anarchy and promises that, if nothing else, what you’re about to see will be fun.
And it is. Plus, Jim Wynorski’s version has one special effect that Corman’s 1957 original did not: former porn star Traci Lords.
Making her legitimate film debut, Lords doesn’t embarrass herself “ like, at all “ as Nadine, a nurse hired by an alien to oversee his health needs. She doesn’t know he’s from outer space because he’s disguised as old guy Mr. Johnson (Arthur Roberts), forever decked out in a sharp suit and black shades.
Constantly in need of new human blood, he gets most of it from random humans who cross his path. He takes off his sunglasses, his eyes glow, and he zaps his victims dead. (Take that, Cyclops!) As always, world domination is his ultimate plan, unless the nurse and the horny handyman (Lenny Juliano) can stop him.
If this film wasn’t nominated for Texas drive-in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs’ Breast Picture award for that year, it should have been. Heck, it should’ve been the lone nominee. Wynorski is known for stocking his films with top-heavy ladies from start to finish, and renting this on VHS in high school in ’88 was my first, um, exposure to his work. Even I was a little shocked at how much nudity was in the thing, but remember wondering why delivery people in my neighborhood looked nothing remotely like Becky LeBeau.
But that’s Wynorski, God love him. Luckily, he’s more than that, as the script, which he co-wrote, zips along at an effortless pace; he pulls game performances out of all involved; and he crafted the thing for those who simply love B-grade films. For a project shot in less than 12 days, it looks like it took, oh, say 20.
He and Lords — who carried the film well with natural charm and timing — reminisce about the movie on the commentary track. She repeatedly takes umbrage to her outfits; he repeatedly moans on how she great she looks (and she does). (Their banter also makes me want to re-watch “Popatopolis,” the terrific documentary about the legendarily temperamental Wynorksi’s legendary three-day film shoots.) Lords also appears on camera for an eight-minute remembrance of her experience on “Earth” — the first one she could actually list on her résumé, she says. Four trailers also are included.
One wishes Shout! Factory would have paired this with Corman’s black-and-white sci-fi original for the sake of compare-and-contrast, but then again, that Atomic Age flick is on the way in January, as part of a “Roger Corman’s Cult Classics” triple feature with “Attack of the Crab Monsters’ and “War of the Satellites.” And, of course, zero nudity. —Rod Lott