Not of This Earth (Jim Wynorski, 1988)
I first saw Not of This Earth not long after it came out on VHS. The draw, needless to say, was former porn star Traci Lords, in her very first non-porn flick. (Say what you will about underage porn stars, but when that news came out in the mid-eighties and I realized Traci Lords is only six months older than I am? That was a very powerful thing, and probably one of the defining moments of my psyche vis-a-vis sexuality; but that is another review, and considering most of Traci Lords’ porn films were destroyed for being “kiddie porn”, well, it is most likely a review I will never write, and you will never read.) As a side note, it was also the movie that introduced me to the wild and woolly world of Jim Wynorski, who over the course of his career in low-budget sleaze (who else would give Traci Lords a break in the film industry?) has directed both some of the best (oh, come on, you know you love Dinosaur Island) and some of the worst (The Bone Eater) bad movies you are ever likely to have the misfortune to see. Not of This Earth, which I re-watched recently to see if it held up to my twenty-five-year-old memories, is closer to the former than the latter. Though I rush to add that “best” is a term I am using very, very loosely here. It’s still an awful movie, but it’s the kind of awful movie that you rent knowing without a shadow of a doubt will deliver you a wonderful time.
Plot: the sinister Mr. Johnson (Up in Smoke‘s Arthur Roberts) shows up at the office of Dr. Rochelle (Chopping Mall‘s Ace Mask) desperately needing a blood transfusion. He is attended to by the good doctor and his nubile nurse Nadine (Lords). He then ropes them into the movie’s silly plot: Mr. Johnson is a vampire. Not just any vampire, but an alien vampire who plans to enslave Earth for the purpose of providing blood. It is up to Nadine and hunky cop Harry (Tammy and the T-Rex‘s Roger Lodge) to stop the evil aliens from harvesting Earth’s blood supply.
If you’ve ever seen a Jim Wynorski movie, you know this is crap. Wynorski has been specializing in bottom-of-the-barrel exploitation trash his entire carer, and Not of This Earth is no exception. However, Wynorski claims in the entertaining documentary Popatopolis (2009) that of the over one hundred movies he had made at the time, not a single one of them failed to earn back its budget. Not bad, not bad at all. If you make dreck, people will watch it. I’m not going to say you need to rush right out and see this—I strongly suspect there is a “you had to be there” aspect to this film to make you understand its importance in the late-eighties film industry (Lords was the first porn star to launch a successful mainstream career, and that has everything to do with Jim Wynorski)—but as far as being a trip down nostalgia lane? Can’t beat it. **