The Man Who (Never) Laughs

Not of This Earth 1957 poster

One of my all-time favorite Roger Corman movies is 1957’s Not Of This Earth, which perfectly blends science fiction, horror and humor. Paul Birch is Mr. Johnson, a humorless humanoid alien who’s literally out for blood…His planet needs fresh plasma because nuclear war has left all survivors with a kind of pernicious anemia. Johnathan Haze (Seymour in Little Shop Of Horrors) is his wisecracking chauffeur/butler, and the classily sultry Beverly Garland is the nurse assigned to treat his condition. Birch is quite intimidating as the alien who can literally kill you with a look…but as I said, he has no sense of humor, and there’s a running gag about how he doesn’t understand Earth culture, which leads to quite a few intentional laughs…

beverlygarland

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About 30 years later came the remake…Now, I for one believe that most remakes, sequels, reboots, whatever you wanna call ’em (let’s face it, they’re all basically rehashes) are unnecessary unless they take things further, in a radical new direction, offer a fresh perspective…but without becoming winking, lampshading self-parody, which most film franchises become as even the filmmakers get bored with the story. You’ve got to remain true to the elements that made the original work in the first place. This remake used the original’s script, only slightly updated for the 80s, and much of the original sets and props…So what did director Jim Wynorski bring to the table? Tits. Great big whopping, pendulous, round, firm and fully packed tits. Luckily they add to the comedy rather than distracting from it…and we all know how distracting they can be. And this version stars Traci Lords, fresh from her controversial stint as the *ahem* youngest porn superstar in Hollywood…Wynorski was the first to hire her, even before John Waters did, although of course it was Cry-Baby that helped her go legit. And she really is good here, with her inherently dignified sexiness…a fitting successor to Beverly Garland. This is one of the very few remakes that I can recommend so highly…

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