Not of This Earth – USA, 1956

‘Somewhere in this world stalks a thing that is…’

Not of This Earth is a 1956 [released 1957] American science fiction horror feature film produced and directed by Roger Corman from a screenplay by Charles B. Griffith (Dr. Heckyl & Mr. Hype; The Little Shop of Horrors; A Bucket of Blood; et al) and Mark Hanna (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman). The movie stars Paul Birch, Beverly Garland and Morgan Jones.

The movie had a reported budget of $100,000 and a return of $1,000,000 although neither figures are verified. That said, it is clear that Not of This Earth was a huge financial success. Corman remade it twice, in 1988 and 1995.

Charles B. Griffith said the film “started all this X-ray eye business. Most of Roger’s themes got established right in the beginning. Whatever worked, he’d come and take again, and a lot of things got used over and over. During the production of Not of This Earth, I was married to a nurse, and she helped me do a lot of medical research. I remember how we cured cancer in that script. Somehow the film was a mess when it was finished.”

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. He is answerable to an authority on Davanna with whom he can communicate through a device hidden behind a sliding panel in his house. His servant, Jeremy, provides him support and protection, but is unaware of his alien nature.

Johnson hires nurse Nadine (Beverly Garland) to look after him in his house. Her boss, town physician Doctor Rochelle (William Roerick), is under Johnson’s hypnotic control after finding out about his patient’s peculiar blood cell structure. With a limit on the number of transfusions he can be given, Johnson takes to murdering locals and draining them of blood.

Among his victims are a teenage girl, a strolling Asian man, a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, and a trio of alcoholic homeless men. The police are mystified by these “vampire killings”…

Reviews:

“Johnson’s ability to kill with his eyes looks ahead to Horror Express (1972) while his frequent progress reports bring to mind Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space (which shot the same year but went unseen until 1959). Not of This Earth uses “phases” instead of plans, their number going no higher than Phase 6.” Arbogast on Film

Not of This Earth has some charm to it and that is in its simplicity and cheapness.  As a villain, Johnson’s creepiness is kind of sidelined by the voiceover “mental” narration, but physically he is kind of creepy.” JP Roscoe, Basement Rejects

Not of This Earth has minimal sets and effects, but the tale of an intergalactic plain clothes vampiric menace is one of Corman’s most entertaining of his early fantasy cheapies.” George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In

“It holds up quite well with time, keeping the interest level throughout, and it is filled with excellent performances, including a scene-stealing bit by Dick Miller as a vacuum cleaner salesman.” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“The film has something undeniably creepy to it, despite Roger Corman’s typical low-budget. It does achieve a certain sinister threat and the story works in its modest way. Paul Birch gives an oddly stilted and alienated performance that holds some effect.” Richard Scheib, Moria

“Corman’s most enjoyable science fiction film.” Michael Weldon, The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film

“Low budgets give little reason for regret when the often tacky effects are surrounded by so much imagination, good humour, and sheer joy in film-making as here. Not of This Earth is a minor sci-fi gem…” Geoff Andrew, Time Out

Choice dialogue:

Harry Sherbourne: “Johnson’s some kind of foreigner, isn’t he?”

George, Desk Sergeant: “This killer’s a fiend of the most diabolical kind!”

Cast and characters:

  • Paul Birch … Paul Johnson – Queen of Outer Space; Beast with a Million Eyes; Day the World Ended
  • Beverly Garland … Nadine Storey – Twice-Told TalesThe Alligator People
  • Morgan Jones … Harry Sherbourne – The Giant Claw; Forbidden Planet
  • William Roerick … Doctor F.W. Rochelle
  • Jonathan Haze … Jeremy Perrin – Blood Bath; The Terror; The Little Shop of Horrors
  • Roy Engel … George, Desk Sergeant
  • Dick Miller … Joe Piper, vacuum cleaner salesman – Matinee; Evil Toons; A Bucket of Blood; et al
  • Anna Lee Carroll … Davanna Woman
  • Pat Flynn … Simmons
  • Barbara Bohrer … Waitress
  • Roy Engel … Sgt. Walton
  • Tamar Cooper … Joanne
  • Harold Fong … Specimen
  • Lyle Latell … [scenes deleted]
  • Gail Ganley … Girl
  • Ralph Reed … Boy

Filming locations:

  • 1725 Camino Palermo, Los Angeles, California (location of house)
  • Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California (park scenes)

Release:

The movie was distributed by Allied Artists Pictures Corporation from February 10, 1957. The theatrical release had a running time of 67 minutes although a TV version included some additional footage.

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