Friday night at the home drive-in: Not of This Earth (1957)

Not of This Earth (1957) by #RogerCorman

w/#PaulBirch #BeverlyGarland

A doctor and a nurse encounter an alien who needs human blood to save his dying race.

“Somewhere in this world stalks a thing that is…”

“Davanna must endure.”

#Horror #SciFi

I saw Not of This Earth (1988) long before I ever saw the original Not of This Earth (1957), which makes it clear that Not of This Earth (1957) was NOT one of the movies I saw on Not Quite Classic Theatre back in the day. As I recall it, Not of This Earth (1988) featured a lot of nudity, care of recently retired porn star Traci Lords. Some might say it was a minor sleaze masterpiece – which raises the question: How could this in any way relate to the original Not of This Earth (1957)? 

By the time I got a chance to see Not of This Earth (1957), my memories of the remake were somewhat hazy, so I couldn’t really say for sure how similar or different they were. This is a problem that I must definitely correct one of these years – but perhaps that’s another story…

Not of This Earth (1957) is a low budget sci-fi horror film by Roger Corman. I remember showing it to a friend some years ago, and he remarked, excitedly, that it was a perfect example of how to do low budget science fiction. There weren’t a lot of special effects, and it was obviously very cheap, but the story was good. Everything was implied, rather than explicitly shown – probably because it was very cheap but that worked in it’s favour. Some movies might have tried to show us a bunch of otherworldly stuff, but Corman kept the action grounded in the mundane reality of 1957. 

It’s like the legend of Jaws (1975). The mechanical shark didn’t work very well, so Steven Spielberg didn’t show it very much. As a result, the movie got scarier.

Not of This Earth (1957) is about an alien who looks just like a regular man from Earth but always wearing sunglasses. When he takes the sunglasses off, people die. We don’t exactly see what happens, but we get the sense that his eyes have great power, and can kill anyone who looks directly into them.

We also learn that this alien, known as Paul Johnson (played by Paul Birch), is dying. He goes to a doctor for help, explaining that he needs blood. The doctor is reluctant at first, but is eventually convinced to help, He asks his nurse, Nadine Storey (played by Beverly Garland), to attend to Mr Johnson full time in his home. She agrees, and so begins her journey into unknown alien terror.

With Roger Corman at the helm, it’s no surprise that Not of This Earth (1957) is a very good movie. It’s smart, efficient, and effective. And even though it may be a super cheap B-movie, I would much rather watch it than many big budget sci-fi spectacles. 

Beverly Garland, who has been turning up a lot in my recent home drive in screenings, is excellent in this movie. She’s likeable, but tough. She’s no pushover for aliens or their ex-convict human helpers. She also sexy, without going to the extremes of Traci Lords in the remake (did I mention that I really need to see that remake again?).

Not of This Earth (1957) is a #NotQuiteClassicCinema classic; a “bad” movie that transcends the term “bad movie” (as in “let’s have a bad movie night“) and is actually quite good. I can whole-heartedly recommend it, and I personally look forward to watching it again on another #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.