|not of this earth|
In a society based on assimilation, infiltrators need only learn language and behaviors, but terror unfulfilled eventually yields to laughter. As the paranoid decade cracked a smile, Hollywood sci-fi enjoyed its first golden moment: 1956's Forbidden Planet and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1957's The Incredible Shrinking Man, and 1958's The Blob, The Fly, and I Married a Monster From Outer Space.
|Garland posing for Corman's Gunslinger|
The alien passing as businessman "Paul Johnson" (Paul Birch) has the power to cloud men's minds. His easiest mark is the 40ish blood-bank doctor; later, a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman (Dick Miller) provides lunch: as paperbacks and magazine articles warned, (aging) corporate men were at risk of dehumanization. Stalwart resistance comes from the margins: a free-spirit chaffeur (Jonathan Haze), a motorcycle cop and his love interest, nurse-with-moxie Nadine Storey (Beverly Garland).
Garland was a pistol, and the droll center of the movie. Ephraim Katz's The Film Encyclopedia notes Garland's career was "hampered by frequent confrontations with producers and the press"; collating with her persona, she had a backbone before fashionable. In any case, Garland is more alive than anyone else (there's a pall over Johnson), and credible as alien fighter: she's used to deflecting predators.
There's inherent humor in a beautiful woman, e.g., the only thing creepier than an old man advancing on a beauty is one (like Johnson) who refrains completely. He hires Nadine, charging her with "seeing to it I do not expire" -- he always talks that way.
His troubled planet is Davanna. Like the ottoman Dick Van Dyke tripped over, "divan" could suggest a xenophobia of objects. As in The Invaders a decade later, these aliens are collectivists who literalize pejoratives: anemic, bloodless, dead-eyed, death-warmed-over. Their quasi-vampirism has scientific causes, as in I Am Legend (published 1954). Finally, like the Vidians in Star Trek: Voyager, the Davannans will sacrifice others to save themselves from disease.
Nadine isn't quite a final girl, requiring male assistance to survive. Old weird Johnson's mission is evaluating humans for "pasturing," i.e. as livestock (compare Daybreakers), with transport to Davanna, evidently, via a mirror frame outfitted with ping-pong balls. The enthralled Nadine is the beta-test, but the cop runs Johnson into a ravine and fiery death. The tag seems to tease a never-made sequel. Not of This Earth was remade in 1988 (with Traci Lords) and 1995; it's past time for another.