Roger Corman’s Cult Classics: Not of This Earth – DVD Review

Traci Lords was in dire need to prove that she could be a real actress. Her infamy in the mid-’80s didn’t hint that she could make the transition. Few people imagined an adult video superstar could work in an R-rated film or broadcast TV. Lords had even more baggage than others who attempted to crossover. She faked her age to make skin flicks while still 16. In the midst of this dark ugliness, Lords found salvation in Roger Corman’s studio in a remake of Not of This Earth.

Lords is a nurse working for Dr. Rochelle (Ace Mask). A mysterious Mr. Johnson (Chopping Mall‘s Arthur Roberts) arrives in need of transfusions. He hires Lords to come to his mansion to keep the fresh blood coming. Her cop boyfriend (Blind Date‘s Roger Lodge) isn’t happy about it. Mainly cause Johnson’s chauffeur (Lenny Juliano) seems ready to put the moves on his woman. He just doesn’t have the time since he drives Johnson around town to pick up hookers. Johnson takes the ladies down into the cellar for unspeakable acts. Turns out the guy is an alien with plans involving our blood supply. The fate of humanity depends on whether Lords can stop her boss’s diabolical plan.

Not of This Earth is a celebration of Roger Corman and New World productions. Director Jim Wynorski augmented his special effects budget by splicing in scenes of spaceships and mutant creatures from Piranha, Humanoids from the Deep, Battle Beyond the Stars, Galaxy of Terror and Forbidden World. There’s an entire sequence from Hollywood Boulevard. He does a fine job of lifting a car explosion during the climatic chase. What is the point of spending time and money blowing up a car when you can borrow it? Wynorski was able to make this film in less than two weeks with these time saving methods.

The one thing that isn’t duplicated from previous films is Traci Lords. Her performance goes beyond mere stunt casting. This isn’t like when Paris Hilton thought she could act. Lords gets the tone of the movie in her performance. She’s not merely reading cue cards. She doesn’t look lost in front of the camera. She can fake being scared or deliver a comic line. She also knows how to work her sexuality when necessary. She sizzles in the electric blue bikini. It’s a star making moment for her that made her hotter than the Swedish Bikini team.

What’s amazing is that Traci Lords has had an extremely long career without going back to adult features or dropping her top in dozens of straight-to-video productions. Not of This Earth is the last time she appeared nude on camera. While other erotic actresses have made R-rated films, Lords may be the only one that hasn’t been gone back to her old genre. She’s done network TV with Melrose Place and The Profiler. Her long list of film credits include Serial Mom, Blade and Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Even with all those movies, Not of This Earth still stands out as her most complete role.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. This is probably the best the movie has ever looked even during its theatrical run back in 1988. The audio is 2.0 Dolby Digital. It’s a decent mix for a low budget feature. Traci sounds better than most of the effects.

Commentary Tracks have Traci Lords and Jim Wynorski together and a solo Wynorski track from an earlier DVD edition. Lords teases Wynorski as they watch the film. She also brings up the reason why she hasn’t worked with him since this film. The solo commentary lets Wynorski get to the nuts and bolts of the production. He’s still ticked off at what Roger Lodge did to his car during the film.

Nadine’s Story (11:28) lets Traci Lords talk more about this Roger Corman movie allowed her to make the jump to a real acting career. She still looks amazing.

Photo Gallery (2:00) is a montage of publicity photos. They do enjoy showing off Traci in the bikini.

Roger Corman’s Cult Classics Not of This Earth gives the special edition treatment to my favorite Traci Lords film. She’s so good as the nurse hired to take care of the alien. She’s not merely a prop on the screen being used for her name. She’s an actress with talent. For those who only remember her controversial start in show business; this is the moment when she moved beyond the past. She could keep an audience entertained during the acting bits instead of having them fast forward to the action scenes.

Shout! Factory presents Roger Corman’s Cult Classics: Not of This Earth. Directed by: Jim Wynorski. Starring: Traci Lords, Roger Lodge, Arthur Roberts and Monique Gabrielle. Running Time: 81 Minutes. Rated: R. Released on DVD: November 2, 2010.

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