Sunday, August 5, 2012
Lifeforce is one of the great forgotten gems of the 80's and one of the best things to come out of Cannon Films. Now granted, that is a little like saying a barehanded punch in the face is better than a punch with an iron glove but bear with me for a moment.
The film, the first of Tobe Hooper's three films for Cannon, concerns a space expedition to investigate Halley's Comet that leads to the discovery of three space vampires who feed on the life force of their victims rather than just their blood.
Complications arise (naturally) and an epidemic breaks out in London that leads to the main vampire (played by the beautiful and constantly naked Mathilda May) switching bodies a few times (leaping into Patrick Stewart at one point in a great extended cameo), the victims of the vampires rising up as deranged zombies, lead astronaut Ted Carlsen-played by Steve Railsback going looney (you know, as opposed to his other roles where he's totally sane), and a baffling ending that can only be called one of the few times a battle between earthly good and cosmic evil ends in a tie. It's really quite amazing how insane this thing gets.
Now, to be fair, even with the 8/10, this is definitely a bad movie. The script is somewhat convoluted (Dan O'Bannon was always a good writer but he often ran into filmmakers who had trouble putting his words into images), despite the pulpy tone the film takes on it's somewhat humorless and as much as I dig it, it probably does run a little longer than it really needs to. But it is a bad movie in the best possible way as Hooper keeps the pace quick (even with the 116 minute run time), Steve Railsback is always entertaining, the special effects are amazingly good given the studio producing it and, of course, no movie that has a naked space chick wandering around for the entire duration can be all bad!
Lifeforce was sadly overlooked when it was released in the summer of 1985, butchered to an incoherent 101 minute running time. It's been released by Vestron and MGM/UA (the current rights holders) and is definitely worth a look if you enjoy loud, over the top b-horror movies. Tobe Hooper has had a hit-and-miss career, but this is definitely one of his better films.