Not of This Earth (1957)

Directed by Roger Corman
Cinematography John J. Mescall

Plot

After a nuclear war, the people of the planet Davanna developed an incurable blood disease. One of its citizens is sent to Earth to examine the blood of the humans for its usefulness in curing Davanna’s dying race. The intruder (Paul Birch) has adopted the name Mr. Johnson, conspicuous only for his oversensitive ears and his sunglasses, which he wears even in the dark. The sunglasses hide his blank, white-eyed stare which kills his victims by burning through their eyes and into their brains.

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Johnson hires nurse Nadine (Beverly Garland) to look after him in his house. Her boss, Dr. Rochelle (William Roerick), is under Johnson’s hypnotic control after finding out about his patient’s peculiar blood cell structure. Johnson’s plans are disturbed by the unexpected and sudden appearance of a woman from Davanna. She asks him for an immediate transfusion, because her physical condition is rapidly deteriorating. Johnson then breaks into Rochelle’s office, but by accident he steals blood contaminated by Rabies. Later, the Davanna woman collapses in the street, dying at a hospital. Nadine’s friend, police patrolman Harry Sherbourne (Morgan Jones), tries to question Dr. Rochelle about the dead woman, but he is unable to speak while under Johnson’s mind control. As a precaution, now fearing discovery, Johnson kills Rochelle, but Nadine, also in danger, manages to call the police. Johnson then flees in his car, followed in close pursuit by patrolman Sherbourne on his motorcycle. When Sherbourne runs his siren, Johnson, suddenly distracted by the loud sound, drives his car off the road and dies in a crash.

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After Johnson’s burial, Sherbourne and Nadine stand by his grave, which bears the inscription “Here lies a man who was not of this Earth”. While Sherbourne expresses mild compassion for Johnson, whose driving force was the rescue of his planet and its dying populace, Nadine refuses to offer any kind of pity. They leave, but soon a mysterious man appears at the grave site. Like Johnson, he wears the same sunglasses and carries the same distinctive case containing transfusion equipment.

Production notes

Griffith says that after he and Corman had collaborated on the film Gunslinger, he suggested they make a science fiction film and Corman agreed; Not of This Earth was the result. He also said he originally wrote the part of the vacuum cleaner salesman for himself.

Not of This Earth was released in the U. S. on the bottom half of a double bill with Corman’s Attack of the Crab Monsters. According to Tim Dirks, the film was one of a wave of “cheap teen movies” released for the drive-in market. They consisted of “exploitative, cheap fare created especially for them [teens] in a newly-established teen/drive-in genre.”

Some release prints of Not of This Earth run 71 minutes; these include duplicate scenes the film’s distributor added into the film. Example: a dialogue between Johnson and a representative from Davanna, which appears as a pre-title sequence, is reused again some minutes in the film. This release version circulated in syndication on U. S. TV stations, 16 mm copies, and bootleg DVDs and videotapes.

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Out of this World entertainment from R. Corman

28 October 2002 | by funkyfry (Oakland CA) – See all my reviews

One of Corman’s most unusual and entertaining features from the 50s. Rubber monsters are totally extraneous to the menace of (the excellent) Paul Birch as the sunglass-wearing alien from Davana who puts a scare in sexy nurse Beverly Garland! Bev hams it up in a slick one-piece for John Haze’s amusement and Dick Miller drops by in an excellent bit as a VERY annoying vacuum salesman. The audience mightn’t have minded when he died, and here is one of the earliest examples of Corman’s very influential use of comedy/horror. Very good script was adapted almost word for word in some scenes for the 80s version — a tribute to Griffith’s skill as a writer of such glib dialogue. A bit more effective production would have helped, but we all know how Corman likes to pinch a penny.

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This is a truly great, almost unknown B-movie — why doesn’t someone get their hands on a print and put it out on DVD and video again? I had to go to the best video store in San Francisco to find it anywhere in the whole bay area. I don’t think it’s currently in circulation, and it’s very hard to find a copy. Thus, not many people know about the original version of this great flick (which features vampire blood fetishism in the context of alien invaders! I mean, how could you go wrong?). The remake was good, but not as good as the original. I think Allied distributed this for Corman, so there should be prints floating around somewhere, so let’s hope a nice one pops up on DVD soon.

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