Wednesday, June 8, 2016

#2,123. Not of this Earth (1995)

Directed By: Terence H. Winkless

Starring: Michael York, Parker Stevenson, Elizabeth Barondes

Tag line: "They've Crossed The Galaxy In Search Of Our Blood"

Trivia: In Italy this film was released as Killer From Space

Directed by Terence H. Winkless, 1995’s Not of this Earth marked the third time that producer Roger Corman brought this story to the screen (The first, which was helmed by Corman himself, was released in 1957; and a 1988 remake featured former porn star Traci Lords as one of the leads). With that in mind, you would think this version of Not of this Earth would be pretty darn good (practice makes perfect, right?). Instead, it’s merely OK, leaving me to wonder why ‘ol Roger even bothered making another one.

The story is the same: an alien from another planet (Michael York), posing as an eccentric millionaire named Paul Johnson, comes to earth to find a cure for the blood disease that is killing him and his people. Using his mind control powers, he “convinces” Dr. Rochelle (Mason Adams), a leading physician, to work on the problem, while at the same time hiring the services of his nurse Amanda Sayles (Elizabeth Barondes), who becomes Johnson’s live-in assistant, helping him administer the blood transfusions that are keeping him alive. It isn’t long, though, before Amanda realizes all is not right with Mr. Johnson, who has resorted to murder to obtain the blood he needs on a daily basis. With the help of her cop friend Jack Sherbourne (Parker Stevenson) and Johnson’s chauffeur / handyman Jeremy Pallin (Richard Belzer), Amanda sets to work trying to solve the riddle that is Paul Johnson, but will she discover the truth in time to prevent him from killing again?

To be honest, I’ve never seen the original 1957 Not of this Earth, and it’s been so long since I sat down and watched the ‘80s movie that I don’t feel I’m in a position to compare and contrast the various versions. But as far as this particular Not of this Earth goes, it’s certainly not a terrible film. Michael York delivers a deliciously over-the-top performance as Johnson, and the special effects aren’t nearly as cheesy as you’d expect (at times, they’re actually decent). Where the movie falters is in its more intense scenes. A late sequence where Angela and Jeremy search the mansion for clues isn’t the least bit suspenseful (even though Johnson was on his way home at the time and could have walked in at any minute). Most disappointing of all, however, is the ending, which features several chases (Johnson tracking Angela as she runs through the streets; Jack, on his motorcycle, pursuing Johnson’s car), yet is totally lacking in energy. Those moments when Not of this Earth should have been soaring high, it instead fizzled out.

Again, 1995’s Not of this Earth isn’t unwatchable. But it was unnecessary. And here’s hoping Roger Corman doesn’t attempt a fourth one.

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