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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not a big Tobe Hooper fan, but he hit a cinematic home run with Lifeforce
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...
Published on Oct. 6 2007 by Daniel Jolley

2.0 out of 5 stars You're one of us. You always have been (mild spoilers)
Have you ever seen a movie that starts out well, but later completely falls apart? It's a disappointing experience, and the better the beginning is, the more disappointing the inevitable crumble becomes.

And "Lifeforce" is possibly the most extreme example of that -- it begins as a haunting, artistic sci-fi movie with a beautiful score and stunning...
Published 3 months ago by EA Solinas

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not a big Tobe Hooper fan, but he hit a cinematic home run with Lifeforce, Oct. 6 2007
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lifeforce (Widescreen) (DVD)
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An underrated Sci/Fi epic, Feb. 14 2004
This review is from: Lifeforce (Widescreen) (DVD)
Though director Tobe Hoooper has had more downs than ups in his career, his film Lifeforce comes out being one of his best, following only Texas Chainsaw Massacre adn Poltergeist. Though initially a box-office failure, I found Lifeforce to be a refreshing story in the otherwise repetitive Science Fiction genre. That's whats sad about the genre; when filmmakers come out with somehting new and different, it flops, but if it's another ALien rip-off, box-office hit. This "vampire" story takes a new turn on the vampire myth, with aliens arriving on Earth that drain people of "lifeforce," the essence of life. I found most of the performances to be great, espiceally Peter Firth as British Agaent Kane. He makes this film totally believable. Steve Railsback is actually the weakest in the cast, but I have to hand it to him, he had a difficult role to play and he did a credible job at it. The effects are also very good for the time and the filmmakers use their fairly high budget to their addvantage. The one thing I hate about this film is that all people seem to recognize is the nudity. They forget about the story and focus on Mathilda May's body (though she I will say she does have a great body). This film goes far beyond the nudity. It drives me nuts when I ask someone if they've seen Lifeforce and they respond "is that the film with that hot naked chick?" So look beyond the nudity and find and marvel at the very creative story aided by the mesmerizing score by Henry Mancini and the London Symphony Orchestra. I found the film very good all the way through . Some seem to think the film fizzles out towards the end when London is in anarchy with zombies running around but I myself found it very exciting and the zombie scenes rivel those of even George Romero. One downfall is that the film fails to explain the relationship between the female space vampire and Steve Railsback very well, but overall this is the most refreshing sci/fi film that I have seen in years.
TRIVIA: The original U.S. theatrical and VHS release portrays a different opening title sequence. Also the mission statement of the Churchill spaceshuttle is written out for the audience to read whereas this newer release from MGM has it read aloud.
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2.0 out of 5 stars You're one of us. You always have been (mild spoilers), April 6 2015
EA Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
Have you ever seen a movie that starts out well, but later completely falls apart? It's a disappointing experience, and the better the beginning is, the more disappointing the inevitable crumble becomes.

And "Lifeforce" is possibly the most extreme example of that -- it begins as a haunting, artistic sci-fi movie with a beautiful score and stunning special effects. But once the action is transferred to Earth, the movie begins a slow, subtle descent into outright silliness that grows more intense with every passing scene. Hamtastic acting, massive plot holes and even the once-lovely special effects grow more bizarre as it winds to its jaw-droppingly bad conclusion.

A space shuttle with a joint US/UK crew has been sent to investigate Halley's Comet, under the command of Colonel Thomas Wolfe Carlsen (Steve Railsback). But they promptly stumble across a vast alien spaceship hidden in that comet, which is filled with dead batlike creatures and three humanoids in suspended animation. When the shuttle returns to Earth, everyone on board is dead except for the three suspended humanoids... who turn out to be life force vampires.

The female (who is naked and the director never lets you forget it) promptly sucks the life-force out of some poor guy, who temporarily resurrects himself by sucking the life from someone else. If these newly-made vampires don't feed regularly, they shrivel up and explode. The Space Girl (seriously, that is what they call her) also apparently can float around and possess people... usually more sexy women, but occasionally Patrick Stewart.

The only one with a vague idea of what is going on is Carlsen, who was found in an escape pod in Texas, and who seems to have a psychic link to Space Girl. So of course, he is humanity's best hope for thwarting the space vampires before all of London is turned into a playground of alien-infected zombies. Did I mention there were zombies?

"Lifeforce" is almost a hypnotic experience, because most movies don't descend so steadily or completely into wretchedness. The opening scenes of the movie are some of the most spellbinding sci-fi exploration that has ever been put in a film, with exquisite matte paintings and hauntingly rich atmosphere. These scenes are probably the best work director Toby Hooper -- who directed "Poltergeist" just a few years before -- has ever done.

And yet... as soon as the action moves down to Earth, EVERYTHING deteriorates. It's like the movie was written and directed in one-off shifts by people who never actually conversed with one another. There are plot holes the size of the alien spacecraft (that's over a hundred and fifty miles, if you don't know) and massive continuity errors that stagger the entire storyline.

For instance, consider the infected humans. Initially, they are turned into dried-out mummies that return to normal (mentally and physically) by sucking the life force out of hapless humans. Unless fed, they will return to their mummified state and EXPLODE. That is... until the final act of the movie, when suddenly they become masses of telepathic rage zombies with oozing sores, who can be killed by a gunshot to any part of their anatomy. Why does this happen? Never explained.

Hooper tries desperately to tie together this sagging, hole-riddled mess with lots of nudity (but only from the FEMALE alien, never the males!), and the sight of Carlsen racing around the British countryside in an effort to interrogate the Space Girl (ugh, that name). But by the movie's grand finale, it's deteriorated into a mass of sleazy, weird, unexplained cheez involving columns of blue energy, zombies, a big sword, and the weirdest sex scene you'll ever see.

That slow descent into silliness also applies to Railsbeck, who starts off pretty subtle and normal, but slowly descends into ham worthy of Christmas dinner ("WHERE ARE YOOOOOOU? WHERE'S YOUR BOODDDDYY?"). It doesn't help that his character makes no sense, since he is often stated to be one of the space vampires himself... but this is never explained or shown at all. It's just a cop-out explanation for why he has a plot-convenient psychic link with the Space Girl.

Speaking of the Space Girl, aka French actress Mathilda May, her acting is negligible at best, but she clearly was cast for her more tangible talents. Two of them. And since those are very nice, I suppose she works well. Patrick Stewart is wasted as a character who mostly lip-syncs and screams, but Peter Firth gives a very good performance as the cynical, no-nonsense SAS guy who has to drag the screaming, melting-down Carlsen around.

"Lifeforce" isn't merely a bad movie -- it's a disappointing one, starting out with beauty and mystery and ending up a silly mass of boobs, zombies and hammy acting. If there's ever a movie that desperately needed a rewrite and remake, it's this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Collectors Series Brings it!, Oct. 26 2014
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I waited to late to get a decent deal on this collectors edition and ended up spending $29 U.S. to get this shipped but after I finally watched all the special Shout Factory interviews and documentaries in this package it took the sting out of my purchase. Now Shout Factory is selling a lesser version of the collectors series that has none of those extra's which is good for some people but if you can find a copy of Life Force Collector's Edition buy it, it's worth the extra cost just to watch the interviews of cast & crew.
Video quality is a solid 4 our of 5 stars.. Audio is 5 out of 5 it's really busy and will envelope you in uni-directional sounds. Extra's are excellent 5 out of 5 and the packaging is sharp to round things off.
This film is an oddity by Tobe Hooper but even today after all these years it does not look dated and the plot moves along nicely and if you by chance come across this collectors edition (it will say it on the front cover) buy it and dive into the extra's the beautiful Mathilda May awaits you to suck your soul dry!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fun and competent 80s sci-fi/horror fest..., Sept. 24 2014
Simon Bergeron - See all my reviews
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Vampires from space? Where have I seen that before? Of course: though not vampires, Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space had almost the exact same plot, except that Tobe Hooper made a much more serious yet fun ride while not taking himself too seriously. Having a pre-Star Trek TNG Patrick Stewart also surprised me quite a bit and make the film that much more interesting. The cast did a great job at convincing us of the space threat, and the finale was very satisfying for me. It didn't feel like a super great film by any stretch, but it certainly has its merits and entertains throughout. If you're on the look-out for a fun mid-80s horror/sci-fi flick, you're probably going to enjoy this one quite a bit. I know I did... maybe more than I should have. Some may have a hard time accepting the whole "vampires from space" part, but it didn't bother me that much. In fact, I liked the mix between sci-fi and horror. It gave a great "Hammer Horror" feel, crashing a Stanley Kubrick film.

Back from a mission to study the Haley cometh, a group of scientists mysteriously perished in a fire. Three remaining bodies were found intact in the remains and studied further back on Earth. But as each of them suddenly woke up, they unleashed a disease that threatens humanity. As these space vampires drain the "lifeforce" from the humans, their victims soon need to feed from the same lifeforce.

Lifeforce is quite new to me, as it was the first time I saw it, so I'm in no position to judge from the DVD or VHS, but it does sound from other forums that a great deal was improved here. Audio is clear, sometimes a bit grainy and at other times music or sound effects overlap dialog, but the 80s could probably only go so far. It was a great listen with old sound effects and a few cheesy sentences.

Again, I can't judge form other sources, but the material presented here appears quite beautiful and delivers a visual performance that must please even director Tobe Hooper. Faces have great definition, textures are competent, hues and colors appear to have a nice balance. Some dark scenes lack a bit of details, but this seems to be due to either lighting from the set or less high quality film stock. Either way, actions are very clean and the picture is very stable.

Two versions of the film are available. The main one being an extended version which contains no less than 15 more minutes of footage, which deepens the story slightly. Fans of the film were hoping to see such a version come out someday, and the time could not have been better. The other version is the theatrical edition. Shorter and has a different momentum, still enjoyable. Interviews are offered with a few of the cast and crew, a behind-the-scenes featurette, trailers and publicity stills also complete the package of this nice serving of extras. In terms of audio extras, two commentary tracks round this sweet package.

Scream Factory went above and beyond to offer fans an edition even newcomers like me would find satisfying. This collector's edition has been discontinued, so get it before it's all gone.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A poor Sci-Fi flick,but a pschoanalysts dream!, Nov. 3 2013
Robert Badgley (St Thomas,Ontario,Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lifeforce (Widescreen) (DVD)
Lifeforce(released June/85)stars,among others,Steve Railsback as Col. Tom Carlsen,Peter Firth as Col. Colin Caine,Frank Finlay as Dr. Hans Fallada,Mathilda May as Space Girl,Patrick Stewart as Dr. Armstrong and Michael Gothard as Dr. Bukovsky.I recall quite clearly seeing this in its theatrical debut back in /85.I saw it at a drive in then and my initial impression was what a ponderous,boring and overy long Sci Fi picture.Well,it is now 2013 and nothing has changed.It is all that and also a psychoanalysts dream come true.The film is full of various forms of sexual/erotic scenes and references,including domination and sadomasochism.This is a film written by guys,directed by guys and FOR young guys.
The story finds us in the future and a space crew has discovered a derelict ship very near a comet the are exploring.They go on board and discover three human bodies in suspension(two males and one female),and alot of dead bat like creatures.The crew decides to bring back the human cases.On the way back to Earth mission control loses contact with the craft,which they later find floating aimlessly in space.They board and find only the three suspended bodies and the crew dead in a huge fire.Back on earth in London in a laboratory,the female comes to life and drains the life energy/lifeforce out of a guard and escapes.
Meanwhile an escape pod from the ship that originally found the aliens has been located in Texas.The astronaut is flown to England to help in their investigation there.When he arrives all hell has broken loose as the female has attacked and killed others.In their discussions it seems the astronaut has some kind of link with the female.They also learn these creatures can jump from one body to the other.They manage to find her in another woman's body and take her to a psychiatric facility.While there the alien jumps to the head doctors body.Back at the labs the two male aliens have now come to life and have taken on the bodies of guards and have left the facility to head into London proper.
While they transport the head doctor back to London the alien jumps out of his body and disappears.When they finally reach London the city is in chaos as the aliens have turned most of the populace into Zombie like creatures,searching for life force of any kind to survive.The epicentre of all this is St Pauls Cathedral,where the life force energy from the local human population is being funneled skyward to the self same ship discovered near the comet.In the cathedral is the female alien,who is the conduit.The astronaut heads there and confronts the alien.She is on an altar and the two make love while the energy is constantly moving through them and upwards.She tells him they are forever linked and are one.With his last strength he impales himself and her with an iron rod.With the energy/lifeforce link broken they both ascend to the ship above which returns to outer space.
The first thing one can see is the terrible editing.This thing comes in at almost 2 hours and it shows.There are just so many places it could have been pared down,but director Hooper just seemed to want to tell every little detail no matter how trivial.As a result the film plods along from one scene to the next and you are soon looking at your watch wondering when this is going to end.The film doesn't start out so badly with the discovery of the alien ship in the comet,but after they arrive back to Earth the film is all over the map.I won't dwell too much on the heavy sexual goings on here,except to say I just wonder why this film wasn't X-rated?There is full frontal nudity in the form of the female alien,who is the "dominant" force,in more ways than one.Then there is the totally sadomasochistic moment where they confront the female alien in another woman's body.The astronaut,through his psychic link,says the woman is a masochist and WANTS the guys to beat the answer out of her....and they do! Totally gratuitous,and unnecessary.
Technically speaking the film is in its its original a/r of 2:35:1 and is clear and crisp.Extras include the trailer.
All in all a disappointingly long Sci Fi opus made in the UK way back when.It features some good English actors but they and the plot that had potential,are all totally wasted.The film is graphic in nature as far as sexual elements are concerned and most are totally gratuitous.2 1/2-barely 3 stars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Should be a cult classic, Dec 24 2003
Jeffrey Leach (Omaha, NE USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lifeforce (Widescreen) (DVD)
When Tobe Hooper released "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" in 1974, people went wild over this up and coming horror film director. That movie, sporting a chainsaw wielding lunatic clad in human pelts and oppressive atmosphere so thick you could cut it with a...well, a chainsaw, proved to be effective on so many levels that it takes multiple viewings just to absorb the whole thing. That final dinner scene, with its hallucinatory flavor and seedy set pieces, still sets my teeth on edge. Yet I continue to see reviews about this movie raving about the heavy gore content, which is hilarious because Hooper's psychological thriller is bloodless. People THINK they saw buckets of gore because the disturbing and ultra sordid feel of the picture encourages a false memory that surely a film this twisted must contain gallons of sauce. When the time came to follow up this winner with another stellar contribution to the horror genre, Tobe bequeathed "Eaten Alive" to the cinematic world. The result was a resounding thud. "Eaten Alive" is an abomination; it is a flaccid, wretched attempt to recreate the magic Hooper reaped from that family of lively cannibals in Texas. Fortunately, "Lifeforce" arrived on the scene in the mid 1980s, a movie that, while completely different from "Massacre," at least moves just as far away from the train wreck that is "Eaten Alive."
A group of astronauts on a mission to explore Halley's comet discovers more than they bargained for when they notice a most unusual object located in the tail of the celestial object. Intrigued, several of the crewmembers don space suits and enter what turns out to be an enormous space ship. Once inside, the astronauts find strange dried up corpses floating about along with three coffin like objects containing the perfectly preserved bodies of two men and a woman. The space walkers transport the three aliens back to the ship with the intention of returning to earth with their spectacular find. Unfortunately, the aliens, believed to be dead, are not. The crew finds out the hard way that messing around with beings from another planet can have devastating consequences, not the least of which could permanently damage our own planet. The aliens ravage the spacecraft and are consequently brought to earth by a rescue mission sent up to see what happened to the astronauts. All heck breaks lose when the creatures wake up in a British laboratory and proceed to systematically destroy everything in their path. The two male aliens die rather quickly, but the female manages to escape the confines of the lab and roams the English countryside. The government panics when they learn that these beings are most unusual vampires with the ability to hypnotize human beings, assume the shape of their prey, and transform their victims into raving vampires who then attack anyone around them.
The race is on to track down the female vampire and put a stop to her activities before she wipes out the human race. Along for the ride is an SAS colonel named Colin Caine (Peter Firth going for and easily achieving over the top), the only surviving astronaut from the original mission, Colonel Tom Carlson (Steve Railsback looking as weird as ever), who now has an unusual link to the female alien, and a scientist, Dr. Hans Fallada (Frank Finlay), who must figure out how to kill the vampire. The team keeps encountering the alien only to lose sight of her again as she changes form or thwarts them in some clever way. As she stays one step ahead of her pursuers, the alien infects more and more human beings. This starts a horrific chain reaction that soon turns London into a swarming mass of vampires killing everyone in their path. Things get so bad that NATO quarantines the area and threatens to drop an atomic device on the city in order to prevent the spread of what they think is some type of super plague. It will be a tall order to prevent the annihilation of London, but the team in pursuit of the alien must attempt to do so anyway. The conclusion of the movie is quite colorful and energetic as the Colonel Carlson faces down the space vampire.

What surprises me the most about Hooper's "Lifeforce" is that many people dislike it. A story about space vampires discovered in a massive ship floating in the tail of Halley's comet is certainly different from anything this director did before, but that provides little reason to bash the film. I suspect that most people who lambasted "Lifeforce" never saw "Eaten Alive" because if they had they would rapidly change their tune. I for one am thankful Hooper decided to go in a different direction. C'mon, how can you not like a film that has the lead villain parading around the country, played by the gorgeous and frequently nude Mathilda May, feeding off human beings at random? Or a movie that has a young, pre-Star Trek Patrick Stewart channeling the vampire while every object in the room spins through the air as though caught in a psychic tornado? Even some of the lines in the film are classic: Soldier trying to keep people out of London: "You don't want to go in there! Colonel Colin Caine, who must get in to track down the vampire: "I know I don't!"
"Lifeforce," while occasionally overdoing it in grand style, is still infinitely more watchable than a lot of the pap passed off on the viewing public. The DVD edition works well: a trailer, a nice widescreen picture transfer, and some additional footage not seen in theaters (I was too young to see this in the theaters when it came out, unfortunately). Hooper has had more downs than ups in his lengthy career, but "Lifeforce" should definitely be classified as a minor success.
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4.0 out of 5 stars imaginative vampire twist, Dec 23 2003
This review is from: Lifeforce (Widescreen) (DVD)
This movie has a very original twist on the old standard vampire tale, with the horror Cult King director - Tobe Hooper at the helm. It is taut pace movie scripted by Dan O'Bannon (Blue Thunder) from a Colin Wilson (Max Headroom) book. The casts is a powerhouse, Frank Finlay as Dr. Hanns Fallada, Peter Firth Brit Colonel Colin Caine, the always bizarrely brilliant Steve Railsback, Mathilda May as the female Space Vampire (not many lines but she does make an "impression"), Patrick Stewart (pre Jean Luc) as Dr. Armstrong, John Hallam (The Mummy) as Lamson and Chris Jagger as a guard (Yeppers, that is the brother of Mick!). Add in some nifty Special Effects for the vampire victims and you have one really great time!
The vampire tale is rather worn, but they manage to give a fresh take on it. Instead of fangs and sucking neck, they suck the "lifeforce" from humans, leaving the body robbed of everything and looking like a "tube of toothpaste all squished out". Worse, in short order we see that it spreads like a plague with the rapidness of dominoes.
The movie opens with the return of the multi-national spaceshuttle The Church to earth. It's overdue and they anticipate something is wrong. When the board it, they find the spaceship had been set to flame, the crew supposedly all dead, and three perfect bodies in glass coffins. They haul them back, quarantine them, but they don't stay that way for long. They soon find out they are space vampires and are now a loose on earth. Enter Railsback as the US army Colonel, the only survivor from the Churchill who escaped in a pod. He tells how they found a strange spaceship hidden in Hailey's Comet. When they boarded the found the glass coffins and lots of weird dead bats-type things. He describes how after bringing the coffins back to the Churchill his crew fell under the vampire's control. In an effort to stop them from returning to Earth, he tried to destroy the ship and escaped. His efforts failed and now these vampires are a loose and must "feed" off energy of a human every few hours.
When the vampires break loose it's up to Railsback and Firth to save Britain and the Earth.
The pace is a roller-coaster ride, the premise is very fresh and original, good effects and bang on acting. So end result is really good film that stands multiple viewings without losing impact. So pop the popcorn, turn out the lights and enjoy a fun time. I mean where else where you see Steve Railsback making smoochies with Jean Luc Piccard?? It's Cult Classic heaven!
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3.0 out of 5 stars This Could Have Been a Great Sci-Fi Movie, Dec 12 2003
MD Cordonnier (Montgomery County, MD United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lifeforce (Widescreen) (DVD)
"Lifeforce" (1985) follows "Poltergeist" (1982) in the Tobe Hooper canon, but it is a largely forgetable film of space vampires coming to Earth and, like space invaders everywhere, wreaking havoc before inevitably being destroyed by the hero. What distinguishes "Lifeforce" is that the only space vampire of interest, ably portrayed by French actress Mathilda May, is young, beautiful, endowed with an astonishing superstructure, and totally naked in virtually all of her scenes. These are the only really interesting parts of the film, which come at the beginning and the very end. In between is tedium.
The cast featured good if not great screen actors. Steve Railsback gained momentary celebrity in "The Stunt Man" (1980). Peter Firth is best known as the disturbed callow stable hand who, after literally rolling in the hay with the lovely Jenny Agutter, engaged in creative horseblinding in "Equus" (1977). Frank Finlay played Iago opposite Lord Olivier in Stuart Burge's "Othello" (1965) but is otherwise mostly a TV actor. The pulchritudinous Miss May essentially began her screen career with "Lifeforce." Patrick Stewart is the only distinguished actor of the bunch, although hardly lionized by film critics for his screen roles (his best screen roles are probably the disembodied ones) and is given only a campy cameo role.
The film had very good financing from the Canon Group, known chiefly for action films, whose execs (the savvy cousins Golan and Globus) probably admired "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1977) (so do I) and thought that Hooper had learned more from Spielberg during the shooting of "Poltergeist" than was the case. The production designer and cinematographer did their jobs very well, and the special effects were excellent for their time and very good even now. That's apparently where the money went. Not enough went for the screenplay, which is silly and talky. The film suffers not only from ho-hum dialogue and too much of it, but from generally bloated scenes which simply drag on for too long and fairly colorless performances from the cast (except Miss May and the delightfully campy Patrick Stewart). The central half of the film, which is not futuristic, is banal in the extreme and no more engrossing than the typical TV movie. Blame for these faults can only belong to the director.
The most accomplished performance in "Lifeforce" is certainly that of Miss May, perhaps because she hardly speaks a word. Her fame, such as it is, rests on this film and not on later starring vehicles like "Naked Tango" and "Crocodile Farm" or on the rather sophomoric art film she did for Chabrol. For years after "Lifeforce" Playboy's annual review of "Sex and the Cinema" always featured a still of her from the film. Such was her impact. Her scenes are unquestionably its highlights. If the director had been willing to take liberties with the original story and make the undecked Miss May a more persistant presence in the film, he might have done better at holding our interest. Despite Miss May's nudity, "Lifeforce" is hardly a sex film. She is, nonetheless, an important visual asset, although not enough to rescue this film from its director.
My DVD showed very bad artifacting in the trailer, sometimes causing it to freeze.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Suspend Your Disbelief and Enjoy � Campy Sci-fi Cult Classic, Sept. 27 2003
Maximillian Ben Hanan (Sacramento, California, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lifeforce (Widescreen) (DVD)
Movie Overview:
Space vampires wipe out shuttle crews and invade Earth to steal human kind's "life force."
Small side note:
Like all of the best space vampires, they are beautiful naked young people and scoff at wearing clothes.
We've all had friends that made odd movie recommendations to us. When my friend told me that "Lifeforce" was one of the all-time classic vampire movies, I took up his suggestion and we rented "Lifeforce." I had no idea what I was in for!
The movie starts out on a very serious tone with the space shuttle "Churchill" (the film had many British film crew) exploring the Halley's comet. Hidden within the comet, they find a derelict alien spacecraft and we get to meet Carlsen, the shuttle's brash American commander (I think his character represents how Brits see Americans). Of course, Carlsen is unable to resist exploring the alien spacecraft so a team enters the wreck to explore. They find numerous bat-like alien corpses as well as three beautiful naked human-like aliens trapped in crystal cocoons, which they decide to bring back to the ship. At this point, the "Churchill" decides to return to earth. On the trip back, members of the crew contract a deadly disease and begin literally wasting away.
At this point, the film transitions back to earth at the SRC (Space Research Center), a sort of British NASA, headed by Dr. Fallada, a gray-haired eccentric scientist who has been studying "life forces." We learn that the "Churchill" returned to Earth orbit and isn't responding to communication attempts. Another shuttle is sent up to explore and they find a burned out "Churchill," which has been the victim of a freak fire. The crew has been burnt to bony crisps and the only survivors are the three alien humanoids in the crystal cocoons, which the new crew brings down from orbit to the SRC. The "Churchill's" record tape was, of course, destroyed in the fire.
At the SRC, the three alien humanoids (two male and one female) are put into quarantine and put under guard by bumbling British security men (The female's goofy guard looked like he came from the filming of a Benny Hill episode). The female humanoid, played by a beautiful naked Mathilda May, comes alive at this point and seduces AKA sucks the life force out of the bumbling guard with the classic line "use my body." Hereafter, she is known as "space girl" The guard becomes a living skeletal corpse AKA space vampire and tries to suck the life force out of other SRC employees until the SAS commander, played by Peter Firth, shows up and is appointed to hunt down the escaped space vampires. We also learn that Carlsen was the only survivor of the "Churchill" and he survived the shuttle disaster by leaving in an escape pod. He shortly joins Peter Firth and the two of them set off to catch the space vampires who can possess human bodies. During the chase, Railsback AKA Carlsen has many flashback scenes to "what really happened on the shuttle" and we learn that he has a "special connection" to "Space Girl."
At this point, the film starts to become campier and campier. As if "use my body" wasn't a silly enough line, the lines keep getting sillier. During an interrogation scene of a nurse suspected to be possessed by "space girl," Railsback tells Firth that he must be rough with the nurse because the vampire is a masochist and that Firth might want to leave. Firth nonchalantly replies "No worries, I'm a natural voyeur!" We find the vampire next in Patrick Stewart's body and the "female vampire" forces Railsback to give Stewart (the goof possessed by "Space Girl") a smooch. Yuck, but very funny. It doesn't take long for the search for "Space Girl" to turn into an invasion movie as "Space Girl" escapes with one of the male vampires and turns London into a zombie town. Firth and Railsback predictably hunt down the two space vampires and the ending isn't what one might have suspected (I don't want to give it away).
Despite the horrible sound of the plot, the film was enormously entertaining. My friend and I were laughing out loud at the silly scenes trying to take themselves seriously. I thoroughly enjoyed the film although it was incredibly cheesy. This is definitely no art film (despite some artful cinematography) although it was just plain fun!
- Don't watch this movie for the plot.
- Little to no character development.
- Lots of lost story leads.
- Wooden acting.
- B-movie sexual "naughtiness."
Special Effects:
- Unbelievable for 1985.
- Effects by John Dykstra (famous for "Star Wars")
- Great zombies.
- Great vampire death scenes.
Acting and Directing:
- Tobe Hooper - director known for "Poltergeist"
- Menachem and Yoram Globus - Israeli producers
- Mathilda May (Also was in "The Jackal" with Bruce Willis), the "Space Girl" AKA the naked space vampire
- Frank Finlay, as Dr. Hans Fallada, weirdo scientist
- Peter Firth, the SAS commander and voyeur
- Steve Railsback, Carlsen, the American "animal" astronaut
- Patrick Stewart AKA Jon Luc Picard (in a pre-Star Trek role)
DVD Features:
- No extras.
- No filmography.
- No special features.
- Does include subtitling / audio options.
Favorite Parts:
- Great zombies.
- Incredibly silly space vampires.
- Incredible cinematography during space shuttle / comet episodes.
- Loosely based on Colin Wilson's adult sci-fi novel, "The Space Vampires"
- Henry Mancini's wonderful operatic score
- Some of the campiest lines ever put in a movie!
I recommend this movie as a campy classic despite its' silliness.
Review by: Maximillian Ben Hanan
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Lifeforce (Widescreen)
Lifeforce (Widescreen) by Tobe Hooper (DVD - 2003)
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