Mr. Johnson is…well, he’s a guy in a suit that talks strange and has white eyes. He can also melt your brain inside your skull and then drain your blood, which he uses later to give himself transfusions. Not really the kind of a guy you’d want to invite to a party now is it?
Seems that Mr. Johnson (Paul Birch) is an alien with a problem. In fact, his whole race on the planet Devana has a really serious problem. Their blood is basically destroying itself. They have to capture alien species with compatible blood and pen them like cattle to use them for transfusions. Mr. Johnson’s mission is to go through a six phase process to determine the viability of the human species to fulfill their needs. The six phases of his mission are as follows:
Phase 1 – Study.
Phase 2 – Improve the quality of human blood.
Phase 3 – Send a live specimen of a human back to their planet using a matter transporter. Incidentally, the first guy he sent back to his planet apparently arrived all crushed, so the matter transporter doesn’t seem to be all that compatible with humans.
Phase 4 – Mr. Johnson’s life or death. If he is able to survive using human blood, they will move on to phase five. If he dies, they move straight to phase 6.
Phase 5 – The conquest, subjugation and pasturing of the Earth. Its humans will be used like cattle as a source of blood production.
Phase 6 – If Mr. Johnson dies, the Earth will be destroyed.
So as you can see, whatever the results of his plan, it doesn’t end well for the people of Earth.
Things actually progress along just fine until he goes to the doctor asking for a full transfusion. While there, the doctor discovers what’s going on with his blood and that he’s not human, btu he uses some kind of mind control to prevent the doctor from ever telling anyone about it. Then he ends up hiring the doctor’s nurse, Nadine Storey (Beverly Garland), to come stay with him and take care of him, basically…keeping him alive. For this he pays her a large sum of money per week.
Things go along ok, until things start getting even more strange, and Nadine and Mr. Johnson’s assistant (also a regular human), start getting suspicious and begin investigating things on their own. Will they find out the truth in time to stop Mr. Johnson’s evil plans? What will finally expose him as the alien he really is? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.
I have a rather stupid confession to make. This film is the second feature in the Roger Corman Sci-Fi Classics Triple Feature release from Shout Factory. It’s on the same disc with Attack of the Crab Monsters. So I sit down to watch Attack of the Crab Monsters to do the review on that one, and somehow, just clicking around on the menus and not paying attention to what I was doing, I started this film by mistake. So I’m sitting there watching it and I’m thinking, "What the hell’s up with this guy with the white eyes? Does he turn into a giant crab or something? What’s going on?" Soon enough, I figured out I had started the wrong film, and basically spent about the next ten minutes both laughing to myself and feeling like a total idiot. In my defense though, I had never seen either film, so I wasn’t really sure what I was seeing. What’s even stupider is that I own the remake of this film that he did in 1988 with Traci Lords playing the nurse and Arthur Roberts as Mr. Johnson, and I haven’t watched that one either. I think I started to once, but something came up, so I didn’t get very far into it before I had to stop, and then I never went back to it. So now that I’ve seen this one, I’ll have to check that one out as well. There was actually a second remake in 1997 with some bigger names in the cast, like Michael York, Parker Stevenson, Richard Belzer and Jennifer Coolidge. I’ve never seen that one, nor to I own it, and I’m unlikely to see it, for no other reason than lack of interest. I think two versions of the film are more than enough.
Anyway, this version was actually really good. The alien could actually have been a rather boring character. The only thing really special about him physically were the white eyes. What made him cool was the way he was portrayed by Paul Birch. The strange, halting manner of speaking he used, and the whole blood transfusion and mind control thing made the character cool. What made him frightening was the lack of emotion and the way he looked when he was after you. The best thing I can equate it to is the second terminator movie, when the T-1000 was chasing down Arnold and the kid. The mostly emotionless look of determination on his face is what really made it frightening. Paul Birch brought that same look to his character when he was after people near the end of this film, and his emotionless attacks on others really made him feel like a cold blooded killer, even though outwardly, while he seemed a bit weird, he came off as somewhat polite and semi-normal, but with some quirks. The complexity of the character and how well Paul Birch played it, combined with Beverly Garland’s portrayal of the nurse and Johnathan Haze as his assistant Jeremy, really made the movie a great experience.
The production itself was really well done, and the story is coherent and entertaining from beginning to end. It’s only 67 minutes long, so it never feels like it’s dragging at all, and you likely won’t be bored during any part of it. It’s just an all around enjoyable film in every respect.
As I’ve stated many times, and will continue to state many more, Shout Factory does an amazing job with its releases, and this one’s no exception. The visual quality is excellent, as is the sound. There are also numerous special features, including commentaries, trailers, interviews and more on the second disc along with the film War of the Satellites. You’re really getting your money’s worth with this one, and more, and I can’t recommend this release enough. Three great movies and awesome special features as well? How can you go wrong?
If you’d like to find out more about this release, or to pick up a copy for yourself, you can check out it’s page on the Shout Factory website here.