Friday, October 26, 2012
Not of This Earth
There's this concept out there, this cliche, of a certain kind of horror movie. Z-grade trash, cheaply filmed, mostly just an excuse to show off some tits and some gore. Really though, these movies aren't as prevalent as pop culture would like to pretend. Even the most artistically bankrupt Friday the 13th ripoff tends to show at least a little ambition; some attempt to add a scare, or some atmosphere, or some interesting element, or at least come up with a reasonable excuse for why the female characters get naked. Most filmmakers can only be so crass before that realize that movies are hard, and they should try a little.
Most filmmakers aren't Jim Wynorski. I spent an embarrassingly large chunk of my youth watching garbage like Sorority House Massacre II and Hard to Die and Cheerleader Massacre, zero-budget movies that really seem to exist to throw a few titties and some blood up on the screen. They were crass, stupid, and pointless... and maybe slightly kinda fun.
(The one outlier is Chopping Mall, which actually had some real special effects and looked like effort was put into it).
Not of This Earth isn't a good movie, but it's kinda fun in that Wynorskian way, if you set the bar low. Although almost completely lacking in any graphic violence, it marries a goofy 50's B-movie tone to 80's trashiness for a surprisingly watchable final product. It's made in the spirit of fun, and features a feisty Traci Lords performance (one of her first non-porn roles) as the heroine.
The film's biggest miscalculation is to use a montage of images from other Corman-produced movies of the era for the opening credits. It's a bunch of crazy monster and gore special effects, and it gets you expecting something a little more than what you get. (The most elaborate effects in this one are some animated lightning bolts that come out of the villain's eyes). Of course, I guess it wouldn't be a Wynorski film if he didn't steal some footage from another, higher budget film to try to lend his film a false sense of legitimacy.