Joe Bob Briggs

Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, TX

You ever get advice like this?
"Gee, that's a horrible story, Joe Bob. You should prob'ly just swear off women entirely."

That makes you feel great, doesn't it? It's sort of like hearing, "You seem to be a toxic individual. Everything you touch turns to dog doo-doo."

I mean, you tell a story, like, "She broke into my apartment, poured coffee all over my Cuban cigars, slashed the bed with a knife, and shot out the screen of my big-screen TV."

And the response to that is, "What the hell did you do to her, Joe Bob?"
What did I do to her? What I did to her is, of course, something emotional. It does not involve knives, guns, or coffee used as a weapon.

Why does the media always make men out to be the violent ones? We may have a few wacky gene cells, but when it comes to all-out assaults on the fortress, I think women win every time. Women should definitely be allowed into combat, because when women want to kill, women, by God, kill.

All right, I'll fess up. I told her I wasn't gonna marry her. I was direct. I was honest. I did what women always say they want you to do. I didn't beat around the bush. I just said, "Nope. Don't wanna get married. This year or next year."

And she went all Middle Eastern on me.
"Gosh, Joe Bob, don't you understand women?"
Nope. I don't.

And speaking of aliens who look like normal human beings, Michael York is donning the cool shades, picking up the sinister silver briefcase, and checking into his Beverly Hills mansion as "Paul Johnson" in--you know what I'm gonna say, don't you?--the third version of Not of This Earth.

All three versions were produced by legendary drive-in king Roger Corman, beginning with the one he directed in 1958, continuing with the Traci Lords version in the '80s, and now this one, which may be the greatest yet.

Not since Logan's Run has Michael York done such a nice sci-fi turn, skulking through parks, sticking three-pronged suction needles into the necks of innocent young girls so he can drain their blood, hollow out their eyes, and mummify their bodies.

But he's a selfless alien who goes back to his study, hits a button on the wall opening the "gate" to his planet, and ships out the blood for scientific research that might save an alien race from extinction.

"Paul Johnson," as he calls himself, is actually one of the greatest B-movie science-fiction characters ever created. He speaks in one of those clipped, learned-English-from-a-thesaurus voices, and he can read at the rate of about two million words a minute.

He wears shades at all times to hide his bulging red laser eyes, but in El Lay nobody thinks it's strange.

The only people who think he's a little nutzoid are Elizabeth Barondes, his private-duty nurse, and Richard Belzer, his sleazeball chauffeur, cook, and gardener.

Whenever he needs something--like three fresh bodies to keep himself alive--he just stares at the person he's trying to manipulate and controls 'em with telepathy.

Mason Adams, as the doctor who studies rare blood diseases, ends up spending 24 hours a day trying to cure whatever virus Paul has, but, of course, there are those telltale ashes in the basement furnace...

In other words, they took an old story, and...told it again!
Nineteen dead bodies. Four breasts. Mechanical bloodsucking.
Vein-slicing. Gooey stingray protoplasm.
Alien octopus body-wrapping. Strangling.
One shower scene.
The old claw-to-the-stomach cure.

Body-burning. Pistol to the mouth. Killer supernatural computer-generated man-eating stingray.

Two motor-vehicle chases, with three crash-and-burns.
Flaming Jehovah's Witness. Flaming valet parker, with eight-story death plunge.

Flaming cop. Flaming Belzer.
Mind-control Suicide Fu.
Drive-In Academy Award nominations for...

* Michael York, as the businesslike alien who says, "Here you will feed me blood," and, "My brood--do they still survive?"

* Mason Adams, as the goofy doctor who says, "Either this case is one in a trillion, or you are not of this planet," and, "It's some kind of crazy gastric bouillabaisse."

* Richard Belzer, as the scuzzy chauffeur who says, "This guy scares me."
* Elizabeth Barondes, as the screaming nurse who says, "Johnson is inside my head!"

* And Terence Winkless, the director, who scored once before with The Nest, for doing things the drive-in way, and for ending the movie with the epitaph: "Here lies a being who was not of this earth."

Four stars.
Joe Bob says check it out.

Joe Bob's Find That Flick
This week's mind mangler comes from...Laura Stratton of Olympia, Washington:
"I was watching this movie with a friend and we found the ending particularly memorable.

"Various efforts were made to kill the monster--guns, bazookas, electricity, etc. Nothing worked. Then someone blasted the big guy with water and that killed it.

"This may not sound like anything special, but the dialogue was incredibly stupid and funny. It went something like this:

"'Look, water kills it!'
"'Water? Do you mean water?'
"'Yeah, water kills the monster.'
"'No, not water!'
"'Yes, water!'
"'Are you trying to tell me water will kill that thing?'
"'Yes, water kills it.'
"'Water kills it? Just plain water?'
"'Yeah, water.'

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