Considering all the mutations in this gory Roger Corman-produced satire, the phrase "tongue-in-cheek" should be discerningly applied. The film premiered on the Showtime network before it was released on home video.
Anita Clark (Joanna Pacula) is a bored and discontented immigrant bride in the backwoods town of Tranquility, where her stick-in-the-mud husband Sam (Peter Onorati), a biologist, studies the local marsh ecology. Then two strangers show up, mysterious John Jones (Morgan Englund) and his sexy
"sister" Janet (Rainer Grant). He's mistrusted; she's lusted after by the generally cretinous Tranquility natives. Anita quickly befriends the sultry Janet because she feels she's found a kindred spirit, another resident alien. In fact, John and Janet are aliens, grotesque humanoids from a planet
where plastic surgery is the highest art form. They've come to Earth to experiment in skin grafts and transplants using humans, and soon the cellar of their house is a mad lab with a cageful of moaning, freakishly vivisected Tranquility folk. Estranged from Sam, Anita pals around with Janet,
unaware her new girlfriend is chiefly responsible for the rash of deaths and disappearances. Anita finally realizes the truth when the aliens kidnap Sam for his rare blood type. Due in part to Anita's earlier feminist psychobabble about how her brother "represses" her, Janet turns against John,
skewering him with a power drill. Anita and Sam then hack, burn, and repeatedly run over Janet with a car. Anita rants angrily against the banality of provincial life as she drives away from the horror house with Sam.
With a retro-1950s soundtrack, cheerfully gross makeup effects, and a standard cameo by Paul Bartel as a mordant mortician, NOT LIKE US begs us to like the dark sendup of small-town Americana and attitudes. But the heavy-handed, tasteless, smarmy humor just gets tedious before long, especially for
consumers grown familiar with prolific producer Corman and his many snide horror/sci-fi genre takeoffs littering the direct-to-video marketplace. The filmmakers could have profited by scrutinizing Bartel's own past work in how to set the proper tone, as he did in EATING RAOUL (1982), for injecting
potent social satire into what would otherwise be a camp exploitation flick. One asset NOT LIKE US does possess is a spirited turn by Joanna Pacula as the human heroine. The Polish actress was "discovered" by Hollywood with some fanfare for GORKY PARK (1983), but in subsequent years seldom had the
advantage of parts as quirky as the shrewish Anita Clark, whose buddy act with the deadly alien Janet is consistently amusing.
NOT LIKE US deserves recognition for another, distinctly minor casting coup, the appearance by radio "shock jock" Doug "the Greaseman" Tracht, as one of the ill-fated Tranquility morons. The film made its debut on video just as PRIVATE PARTS (1997), the motion picture starring Tracht's broadcast
nemesis Howard Stern, was opening in theaters. For what it's worth, PRIVATE PARTS was a critical and popular hit, whereas credits for NOT LIKE US don't even spell Tracht's name correctly. (Violence, profanity, substance abuse, extensive nudity, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1996
- Rating: R
- Review: Considering all the mutations in this gory Roger Corman-produced satire, the phrase "tongue-in-cheek" should be discerningly applied. The film premiered on the Showtime network before it was released on home video. Anita Clark (Joanna Pacula) is a bored a… (more)