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Movie Reviews : 'Not of This Earth' an Amusing Curiosity

May 20, 1988|LEONARD KLADY

"Not of This Earth" (citywide) isn't quite out of this world. But it's a pretty decent stab at poking gentle fun at budget-genre film making.

Actually a liberal remake of a 30-year-old Roger Corman yarn, "This Earth" literally adds color to the proceedings and has an arsenal of nifty props on display. It doesn't really matter that the gizmos probably don't work because director-co-writer Jim Wynorski just whizzes the story along from one improbability to the next. And when the story slows down, there's always a colorful character with something droll to say.

The story concerns an alien (Arthur Roberts) in dark glasses who's arrived here to find a new blood supply for his dying planet. At first he seeks medical advice, using his unique mental powers to bring a doctor under his control. Then, waving a wad of money, he lures nurse Nadine Story (Traci Lords), into his service.

Will he succeed in his evil plan to transmit live human specimens whose life fluids flow rich and red back to his home?

The inevitability of the outcome and the simplicity of the plot are two major hurdles that the film makers never fully overcome. Even though the yarn is enhanced by a kinetic finale and an ironic twist, the tempo flags somewhere near the middle. So, Wynorski is constantly searching out either a narrative or technical diversion. Most of the time he succeeds.

The surprising aspect of ex-porn actress Lords' casting is that she actually appears to have a natural flair for comedy. She and the other performers push hard against the campy underpinnings of the film but manage not to step into the realm of the inane.

"Not of This Earth" (MPAA-rated: R, for nudity and language) is old-fashioned, silly, slap-dash and innocently bold. It's a curiousity that definitely entertains.

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