A Roger Corman movie is like a warm hug. His early sci-fi and horror films are low-budget and often a bit kooky, but they contain a certain charm that is unique to him.
Not of This Earth is a late 50s sci-fi movie involving an alien in dark glasses who drinks the blood of his victims. Probably not what fits until most people’s description of something that is charming, and yet it is.
“Mr Johnson” is an alien from Davanna, a planet experiencing a strange blood disease that is killing them off. He’s been sent to Earth to find a cure for his people. Donning black glasses, a trilby and a briefcase, Mr Johnson isn’t exactly inconspicuous. But he has the powers of mind control on his side.
He arrives at a doctor’s office one day, demanding that he be given a blood transfusion while forgoing a blood test. The nurse, Nadine, insists it isn’t possible. However, after working his powers on Dr Rochelle, Mr Johnson gets the blood he needs. He also insists that Nadine come to live with him as his live-in nurse who can give him regular transfusions.
Nadine arrives at Mr Johnson’s house later, a bit bemused by her new working situation. She learns that Mr Johnson has employed a young ruffian named Jeremy as his chauffeur. Both kids are suspicious of their employer’s strange habits and rules, including not entering this cellar.
One day, Nadine gets the opportunity to break that rule. When Mr Johnson and Jeremy leave one day, she heads into the cellar. Little does she know that the furnace is burning a body alive. She quickly grabs a jar, which she later brings to Dr Rochelle.
Dr Rochelle studies the compound in the jar and realises it contains vitamins both known and unknown to humans on Earth. Realising that people are onto him, Mr Johnson knows he must go on the attack.
But his plans are interrupted by the arrival of another alien from Davanna. She tells him of the desperate situation back home, which he feels compassion for. He helps her get a blood transfusion. But he unwittingly gives her the blood of a rabid dog, and she soon dies.
Panicking, Mr Johnson sends an alien to kill Dr Rochelle. He also kills off Jeremy and forces Nadine under his control. He convinces her that she must send herself to Davanna as a subject for their blood tests. She’s nearly at the portal when Mr Johnson dies in a car crash during a chase.
During his funeral, Nadine and her boyfriend debate whether or not they feel any sympathy for the alien. And it’s the moral that viewers are left with. While something might seem horrific, who wouldn’t do anything to protect the ones they love?
One of the strengths of this B-movie is the actors. Leads Paul Birch and Beverly Garland are great. Birth doesn’t give a one-note alien, he allows us to feel sympathy for a villain. Garland is just a fantastic heroine to root for. Also, Dick Miller has a cameo (of course) as a door-to-door vacuum salesman that is just excellent. He can’t help but steal the show every time he’s on screen.
Of course, this isn’t a perfect movie. It shows its budget. The cheap effects don’t bother me. I love them, in fact. But certain areas of the editing are a bit clunky, like we’re watching an extended TV episode. But the runtime isn’t much longer than one, so it’s a good pairing with the film it was originally distributed with, Attack of the Crab Monsters.