Thursday, February 21, 2013

LIFEFORCE (1985) movie review

Lifeforce (1985) d. Hooper, Tobe (UK/USA)

Based on Colin Wilson’s novel The Space Vampires, a team of astronauts encounter a ship lodged within the head of Halley’s Comet and discover three humanoid creatures encased in coffin-like crystalline blocks. As any genre film fan can predict, as soon as they get them back to earth, blocks are going to crack and heads are going to roll.

But, in the name of red-blooded adolescent heterosexual males everywhere, the primary reason to watch lies in the glory that is Mathilda May’s impossibly sexy usually-buck-naked soul-sucker.

Seriously, I could do this all day...

Hooper does a fine job of keeping the action moving along as U.S. astronaut Steve Railsback and SIS agent Peter Firth attempt to track down the interstellar menace. The keeee-razzzy scenes of panic and mayhem as the population of greater London is bled dry of their precious electrical blue fizzies and zombified are great fun, as is watching a pre-Star Trek Patrick Stewart strut his stuff as a histrionic asylum official.

Nick Maley's terrific makeup effects and animatronics are also worthy of mention. Oddly enough, they bring to mind another well-loved 1985 cult feature, Return of the Living Dead, where f/x maestro Tony Gardner whipped up a similarly impressive chatty half-corpse for director Dan O'Bannon, who would inherit ROTLD from Hooper after the latter dropped the project to tackle this one.

Speaking of which, Lifeforce's spirited screenplay was written by none other than O’Bannon and fellow sci-fi vet Don Jakoby which, while a mite chatty and occasionally campy (especially when delivered in Frank Finlay's plummy tones), admirably applies an intriguing twist to the classic vampire myth. Sadly, John Dykstra's befuddling special-effects bonanza finale and Henry Mancini's zippity-doo-dah score denies the film the much-needed nudge of coherency required to put it over the top.

No lost classic, but a splendidly overripe slice of Golan-Globus cheese, coming April 30 to DVD and Blu-Ray in a special Collector's Edition from the always terrific Shout! Factory.


  1. I appreciated that Tobe Hooper didn't shy away from showing Mathilda May's male crew mates in the altogether, even if they didn't get nearly as much screen time.

    1. Did they make as big an impression on your adolescence as Ms. May did on mine? Because she was THE ONE until I came across Ingrid Pitt a few years later in The Vampire Lovers.

    2. Alas, I did not see Lifeforce when I was an adolescent. (In fact, I only got around to it a couple years back.) I do, however, know what I like (and like what I know).