More times than I would like, I've found myself forced to express my disappointment over a Tobe Hooper film. Not this time, though, as Tobe Hooper has finally impressed me with this incredible science fiction/horror/apocalyptic motion picture. I freakin' loved this movie. Heck, even if you took away the hot naked alien chick, I would still love Lifeforce. What's not to like? You start out exploring a most unexpected alien vehicle found in the coma of Halley's comet, arrive back on Earth with a trio of space vampires who soon unleash havoc all over London, enjoy some pretty impressive and certainly entertaining special effects of creatures having all of their juices sucked right out of them and then reanimating to do the same to someone else, then work your way to a London burning to the ground as zombie-like humans run amuck in the streets. Throw in a not-yet-totally-bald Patrick Stewart in a performance that would prepare him well for his later assimilation into the Borg collective, a score written by Henry Mancini and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, and what I consider (though some might call them cheesy) some fantastic special effects (with one embarrassing exception) - and all of it with a 1985 budget of only twenty-five million dollars. How can you not have a good time watching this movie?
The film opens with an ESA spaceship called the HMS Churchill arriving for a scientific rendezvous with Halley's Comet, but the mission changes when a huge artificial structure is detected within the coma of the interstellar attraction. Exploring the mysterious craft, the space explorers find a huge number of desiccated, bat-like aliens - and three perfectly preserved humanoid specimens, one of which is the gloriously naked Mathilda May. Unable to communicate with Earth, the ship heads back home, meeting with some kind of disaster along the way. The ESA has to ask NASA to explore the seemingly derelict ship, but all they find are the three undisturbed alien bodies amidst a scene of burned-out destruction. The mystery of these alien creatures increases exponentially when the hot, naked alien chick suddenly wakes up, turns a security guard into a stunt double for the Crypt Keeper with one hell of a kiss, and escapes. She may be gone, but she's certainly not forgotten, as scientists, SAS agent Caine (Peter Firth) and a government minister (Aubrey Morris) observe her victim wake up on the autopsy table and suck the life force out of a doctor. Apparently, the lifeforce-sucking takes place at two-hour intervals, which makes it ultra-important that they find the missing alien they now consider a space vampire.
A few answers become available when an escape pod comes to earth carrying the only survivor from the Churchill, Carlsen (Steve Railsback). Railsback tends to overact quite a bit in a scream-happy kind of way, but he does have a mysterious connection to the hot naked space vampire (who, regrettably, not only dons clothes but completely different bodies as she seeks to escape detection). Things really heat up from this point on, especially when the not-so-derelict alien spacecraft leaves Halley's Comet and starts heading toward Earth. With our heroes unable to contain the space vampire outbreak, London literally begins collapsing from within, and Earth's only hope for survival seems to depend solely on Carlsen's mysterious connection to the alien space vampire.
If you like screaming, you'll enjoy the efforts of Steve Railsback and Patrick Stewart in this department, but I think most viewers (especially male viewers) will agree with me that Mathilda May pretty much makes the movie. And I for one think the special effects are pretty impressive with the one exception (maybe all of the special effects guys were sick that day and Tobe Hooper did that one himself). Hats off to Tobe Hooper for this cinematic effort, as it is the kind of film you can enjoy over and over again.