Classic horror maven Roger Corman spent his career creating an empire of garbage with his “Roger Corman Presents…” label. He attaches his name as an executive producer to anywhere from 10-20 films a year, churning out horror movies like they’re widgets. I decided to take a look at Corman’s NOT LIKE US from 1995. Something tells me that Corman’s business acumen far exceeds his horror acumen as NOT LIKE US felt very slapped together and was at times a real snoozer. However, there is one scene that had my eyes leaping out of my skull. Read on…
NOT LIKE US takes place in what appears to be wholesome, generic small town in California. As the movie opens, the town is abuzz talking about some recent mysterious disappearances. Yes, something strange is afoot in Everytown, U.S.A. We then cut to Janet and John Jones, two blonde, plastic-looking siblings who recently moved into the house down the road. Among the normal average-looking folk, these two siblings standout like Shaquille O’Neal in downtown Tokyo, so I wonder if there could be a connection between this odd Barbie & Ken twosome and the fact that the townspeople are starting to go missing one-by-one? Is my sarcasm evident? I hope so.
Janet steps out one day to encounter her next-door neighbor, Anita, played by Polish Scream Queen Joanna Pacula of THE KISS fame. Joanna’s going through a rough time in her marriage with husband Sam (Peter Onorati). Pacula and Onorati are relatively well-known actors and seeing them in this straight-to-video garbage left me feeling a bit sad, but then again, Samuel L. Jackson showed up in XXX: STATE OF THE UNION, so you gotta do what you gotta do to get paid. Anyhow, Anita confides in Janet about her troubled marriage and the two become fast friends for no apparent reason (lazy screenwriter alert!).
Little does Anita know that Janet leads a double life. When the sun goes down, Janet sluts it up at the local bars, getting it on with a large proportion of the town’s men-folk. This propensity leads to numerous scenes where Janet’s preposterously fake (but appreciated, nonetheless) breasts are exposed. And I have no shame in saying that the eventual rating of this movie will be padded by a star for such gratuitous boob action. Hey, we all have our criteria.
Shockingly, these men disappear without a trace after their trysts with Janet. Equally shocking is the fact that Anita doesn’t put two and two together until much later in the film. And most shocking of all is the sheer quantity of poontang Janet has been handing out as you know that each death equaled a roll in the hay with Janet. As all of these people are dying, Anita still doesn’t get it, which just confirmed my belief in the age-old truism that it’s just hard to sympathize with a hero who’s dumber than dirt.
(*Spoiler ahead – oh who are we kidding, read on). Ultimately it turns out Janet and John are aliens who came to this town to conduct experiments with the human body. Why they don’t go to a hugely over-populated city where the missing would be less noticed is beyond me (or, apparently, anyone else involved in the making of the movie).
NOT LIKE US is given a very forced campy looked with awkward camera angles, jokes, and a deliberately over-the-top soundtrack. Sadly, the campiness fails because the film can’t maintain that mood for a full 90 minutes. Oh, and the jokes were terrible - and not so terrible that they were good, either.
And yet, there is a reason for watching this movie (aside from the aforementioned nudity). Or, at least, there is a reason for zipping through the movie to certain scenes. In particular there is a scene that had even me feeling squeamish - and that’s not easily accomplished because I’ve seen it all. There is an extended sequence involving one of the anatomical experiments John Jones conducts on a woman that is genuinely stunning. When it ends with him reaching into her body and ripping her skull and spinal chord out so she is left as just a shapeless mass of skin, I almost stood up and applauded.
Don’t get me wrong, 95% of NOT LIKE US is worthless. They should just sell a 10 min DVD for $2.95 which contains the nudity and the signature scene. It tries to be funny, campy, and scary – and fails miserably on all accounts. Most of the movie is, in fact, very boring. But any film that is willing to take the goriness to the level of the scene described above deserves some credit. Therefore, I’ll begrudgingly give it two stars.
RATING: ** (out of four)