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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 A poor Sci-Fi flick,but a pschoanalysts dream!
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...
Published 1 month ago by Robert Badgley
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5.0 out of 5 stars May the FORCE be with you!,
This review is from: Lifeforce (Widescreen) (DVD)Lifeforce is the perfect example of how stupid studios think the American audience is. The original American release features fifteen minutes cut, and the score changed in places so that the film would be more low-key and played off as a straight horror vehicle. Upon release, the film just disappointed audiences (naked Mathilda May notwithstanding) and, between its mediocre response and graphic (in all ways) nature, was lost even to a second life on cable TV.
The advent of DVD has led to a reconstructing and resurfacing of this highly enjoyable and well-done Tobe Hooper classic. Restored are the fifteen minutes of film and the original, as it was intended, score for each scene. What is truly impressive and laudable about Lifeforce is that there are no major scenes reconstituted into the film, and that almost all fifteen minutes are snippets from the beginning, middle, or end of scenes throughout the film. All small stuff but, combined with the original score selection, it equals one big change - Lifeforce is a clever, witty, and well-crafted adventure film that contains horror elements. Most notable is the wonderful Henry Mancini score, alternating between rousing themes and eerie descents into the unknown. It is the most transforming aspect of the film, transcending the horror elements into a grander and more gleefully enjoyable romp into the apocalypse. Sound strange? Watch the film, and you will understand what I mean.
Stocked with a cast of fine British actors, playing their English nature to a tee, and complimented most wonderfully with Steve Railsback as the abrasive, sole American in the tale, Lifeforce is a film you will find yourself merrily drawn into and one that is easily enjoyed over multiple viewings. A crazy, genre-defying, wry outing highly recommended for any and all.
4.0 out of 5 stars Nude, Nude, Totally Nude.,
This review is from: Lifeforce (Widescreen) (DVD)How did I miss this one? A fantastic mix of Sci-fi and T & A. The London setting/British accents give it class, while the zombies and nudity supply the cheese. A big budget, midnight classic.
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, if flawed filming of C. Wilson novel; crisp DVD,
This review is from: Lifeforce (Widescreen) (DVD)The first time I saw this, back in the 80s, I hadn't yet heard of Colin Wilson or his novel Space Vampires, and remember being mildly disappointed in the movie ( I think I was expecting more of it to take place in outer space). Having recently read Space Vampires as part of an ongoing Wilson fetish (his long-out-of-print The Occult: A History and novel The Mind Parasites are absolutely essential) I was curious to see Lifeforce again to compare it with both the book and my memories. While there are a lot of things I really like about the picture, it still seems like another one of Tobe Hooper's good-but-shoulda-been-great movies (e.g. Funhouse, Invaders from Mars, etc.) Everything seems to be in place: spectacular production design/art direction (by a team whose previous individual credits included Ragtime, The Devils, Cook & Moore's Bedazzled, and The Elephant Man), lush cinematography by Alan Hume (Return of the Jedi, View to a Kill, Octopussy), John Dykstra's flawless optical and motion-control effects (check out the first half hour for some beautiful Kubrick-inspired visuals), a supporting cast of terrific actors (Frank Finlay, Patrick Stewart, Michael Gothard, Aubrey Morris), an excellent soundtrack by Henry Mancini and Michael Kamen (uncredited), and a gorgeous nude space vampiress. The cerebral screenplay by Dan O'Bannon (Alien, Dark Star, Total Recall, etc.) and Don Jakoby (Carpenter's Vampires, Evolution) does take some liberties with the novel, but it's actually a lot more faithful to Wilson than I was expecting. And thankfully the script is played 'straight,' not camped-up with mindless "action sequences" or a tacked-on romantic subplot like it would be now (though Lifeforce has its share of both mildly graphic violence and steamy eroticism). What bothers me about it is Steve Railsback as Carlsen: his character is so bland and unappealing. The terrific Michael Gothard (The Devils, Scream and Scream Again, The Three/Four Musketeers), wasted as Bukovsky, would have been much better in the Carlsen role. My other problem is, having seen Railsback's tour-de-force as Charles Manson in the TV-movie Helter Skelter, I find myself hearing Charlie in all his line readings in this picture. See for yourself. Ultimately, while most of Lifeforce is fairly impressive, the somewhat anticlimactic finish (the book had a similarly abrupt ending) and Railsback's drab characterization keep it from true classic status. Hooper's direction also seems somewhat lacklustre in the unintentionally humorous scenes of mutant vampires running amok in London, prosthetic bladders pumping rhythmically (that's one overused makeup technology I don't miss). Time has not been kind to Nick Maley's animatronic shriveled corpses either. But now I'm quibbling; overall this is still far superior to most of the zillions of moronic Star Wars ripoffs (Starcrash, Flash Gordon, The Last Starfighter, etc.) of the 1980s; at the very least Lifeforce remains an intelligent and engaging, if somewhat flawed, feast for the eyes (did I mention Mathilda May?) and ears.
The DVD package from MGM-UA is typically minimal but of very high quality. The only extras are the very clean, letterboxed trailer, 32 chapter stops, and English, French, and Spanish subtitles. The source print, however, looks terrific, with excellent brightness, contrast, sharpness, and detail, and rich, saturated color. Virtually no speckling, scratching, or other damage to speak of; it's a pity that it's not anamorphically enhanced. The remixed Dolby 5.1 surround track is fairly well-done, with plenty of back-channel action for audio geeks, and the clarity of the digital sound really shows off some of the subtleties of the soundtrack, particularly some occasional low-frequency vibration effects. The "additional 15 minutes of footage not shown in theatres" promised on the box are the same as in the foreign and previous video release versions. Movie and DVD both rate a solid 4.
5.0 out of 5 stars sexy space vampires,
This review is from: Lifeforce (Widescreen) (DVD)Wow, Life Force stands the test of time as a sexy and classy movie. It starts out inocently enough. A comet is aproaching and we want to explore it. Little do we realize that an alien race is in hibernation in the tail. Things go from bad to worse, as the adventure unfolds.
Now in adition to the story their is a lot of nudity and the main chick is a stunner. You also get to see classic performances by such greats as Patrick Stewart before he made it big in the states.
So take a chance spend [money]... and enjoy the movie.
4.0 out of 5 stars Naked space vampires, yes, but so much more!,
This review is from: Lifeforce (Widescreen) (DVD)As even a cursory perusal of the other reviews here will tell you, this film's major claim on the affections of the s.f. community is its presentation of the nude body of Mathilda May. This is a more considerable achievement than the uninformed might suspect because Mademoiselle May was truly a spectacular vision - a robo-babe of fearsome power. I mean, jeezum crow, what a hottie! [brief pause for Tex Avery-like tongue-pulling and eye-bulging] If you think Jessica Alba is all that and a bag of chips, rent this puppy and get yourself an education, fanboy.
That said, I have always found "Lifeforce" to be an uncategorizable delight even when she's off-screen (or clothed, when she might as well be). Back when Quentin Tarantino was still working in a video store, this movie was twisting genres around like a Rubik's Cube, giving the viewer the same kind of "what the hell is happening here?" chaotic excitement as the characters in the film. [Bonus geek points for including the pre-Trek Patrick Stewart.]
3.0 out of 5 stars Tobe Hooper films the hottest Hammer Classic of all!!,
This review is from: Lifeforce [Import] (VHS Tape)A team of Astronauts intercepting Halley's comet during its near Earth flyby, discover a monstrously huge alien spaceship hiding in its tail. Apparently derelict, the ship is found to contain hundreds of seemingly dead aliens resembling large bats, and three humans sleeping inside of crystal shafts. Having no choice (for astronauts that is; while the rest of us would have at least considered the idea of taking a really long video and leaving it at that), the crew of the spaceship Churchill recover the three bodies and head home. A strange epidemic breaks out on the Churchill, slowly but surely draining the life of its crew, except for Commander Carlson (Steve Railsback) who ironically enough, made the call to enter the derelict in the first place. Flash-forward a few weeks when the Churchill returns to Earth. Astronauts rendezvouing in orbit with Churchill find the ship gutted completely - everything inside completely burned except for the three aliens. Being astronauts as much as the crew of Churchill, the latter astronauts return to Earth with the three aliens (doesn't anybody pack a camcorder on these trips? The Churchill astronauts had only one chance to decide whether or not to bring their souvenirs back before the alien ship returned with Halley into the void. But the crew of the shuttle that finds Churchill could have left its three hitchikers in orbit indefinately). Back on terra-firms, the aliens come alive and are revealed to be vampires - sucking out souls instead of blood - from their victims. The victims in turn, become shriveled up zombies who are forced to steal the life-force of others or die a gruesome death. Using their powers, the alien trio - led by the beautiful, but evil (and gratuitously nude) Mathilda May - kick off a vampire epidemic. Suspecting that the alien trio has more than a passing resemblance to the vampires of lore, Dr. Hans Fallada (Frank Finlay) and British SAS Colonel Caine (Peter Firth) search for clues to end the epidemic and save the world. Not knowing where to begin, they get a boost when a rescue team finds the Churchill's escape pod and, within it, the very live (but messed up) Col. Carlsen. Carlsen's survival, we soon learn, is no coincidence. Though having the power to invade the bodies of some victims, a mental link between Carlsen and the vampire queen helps clue our heroes into her whereabouts. Torn between his feelings for the "space girl" (that's what the credits say, I didn't make that up!) and the rest of humanity, Carlsen remains barely able to fight for his world. Tracking the alien across the English countryside, Carlsen and Caine return to London to find the city gripped by an outbreak of soul-vampirism, and rotting zombies. In the depths of the city, with the world on the edge of apocalypse, Carlsen confronts the vampire queen (that's a lot better than "space girl", right?) and his own feelings, and reconciles his dilemma in time for the climax.
So, why doesn't this movie rock? Based on the cult novel "Space Vampires" by Colin Wilson, the film doesn't exactly give the devil its due. The first hour manages to sustain a lot of tension, despite how obvious it riffs on "Alien" (astronauts find the seeds of doom in a huge derelict alien ship), making the decline that much worse in the rest of the film. Most of the terror stems from not being sure at first just what sort of movie "Lifeforce" is. Getting to Earth, we soon learn exactly what kind of movie it is - with its aloof British charachters, "Lifeforce" is revealed as a modern-day version of the horror movies fielded by Hammer studios in the 1960's and early 1970's. (This flick could have appeared in 1972, with John Phillip Law as Carlsen, Ingrid Pitt in Mathilda May's role, Christopher Lee as Fallada, and an additional role for Peter Cushing). The characters seem one-note - Caine is too much a take-charge guy to realize that his 9mm won't help him; Carlsen is just nuts. The effects are actually good for the story, but they highlight what a simple story it is. There are some other plausibility and continuity problems - the research center where the aliens are brought, is smack inside of London, and not miles away from nowhere like Area-51, or at least inside of a city that the world cares less for than London. The aliens have been here before, Carlsen tells Caine without elaboration. This hint of a past presence on Earth clues us in that there's more to the story than we're seeing. Whether it's a better story is debateable, but it couldn't be less interesting. And what's the deal with Carlsen and Queen Vamp? A link that strong has to have a story behind it, but the script takes it as a given. Lastly, the film wastes what should be some incredibly comic moments, like having Caine trying to brief his superiors while the PM turns into a vampire, or having Carlsen bond with the space girl - while she inhabits the body of Patrick Stewart. One scene, in which it develops that Dr. Fallada has become a vampire, actually deserves a chuckle. When I first caught this flick at the multiplex in the summer of '85, the wit-starved audience instead whooped it up. The film never loses its spookiness, but Tobe Hooper was shooting for something higher. Still fresh off "Poltergeist" Hooper never sustains the horror because he never fleshes out the underlying evil of the story nor creates any real characters for it to sink its fangs into.
4.0 out of 5 stars Totally Weird And Berserk, But It Still Works Somehow,
This review is from: Lifeforce [Import] (VHS Tape)Easily one of the strangest meldings of science fiction and horror ever put onscreen, the 1985 film LIFEFORCE is unquestionably flawed by some less-than-impressive acting and dialogue that is disjointed to the point where it dangerously approaches being laughable. Somehow, however, the two styles do come together well enough to paper over the film's cracks.
Based on Colin Wilson's 1976 cult novel "The Space Vampires", LIFEFORCE focuses on a joint US-British space crew who venture to Halley's Comet aboard the space shuttle Churchill and find an alien spaceship inside the comet's coma. Found inside the spaceship are the occupants, who have the appearance of giant bats.
Flash forward, as Churchill approaches Earth's orbit. When there is no response from the shuttle, a rescue team lifts off from Florida onboard Columbia...and finds the interior of Churchill completely gutted by fire. But the three alien occupants that remain, encased in glass, are completely unscathed--and incredibly, look absolutely perfect to begin with.
The aliens are bought back to the British Space Research Center in London...and without warning, they come alive--especially the female one (Mathilda May), who goes around for much of the rest of the film nude. The aliens are space vampires; but instead of sucking the blood from their victims via bite wounds, they drain the victims of their lifeforce. All three escape into the London streets, prepared to cause the ultimate mayhem.
The SRC's chief (Frank Finlay) and a British agent (Peter Firth), however, have come into contact with the surviving crew member (Steve Railsback) of Churchill; and together, the three of them try to track the vampires down. May is their particular target, as she seems to be in contact with Railsback telepathically. But because she moves from body to body, they remain behind her every step of the way. By the end of the film, the spaceship that had been inside Halley's Comet is in a geostationary orbit over London. The vampires have spread their deadly plague all across the city, causing the entire populace to become either dessicated or turn into zombies. It is up to Railsback to stop the vampiric madness on his own.
A more bizarre story, or a more bizarre approach, might be very difficult to find even today. Most of the film's flaws are in the less-than-coherent script by longtime screenwriters Dan O'Bannon and Don Jakoby (BLUE THUNDER). Somehow, though, the film is pulled into shape, at least in terms of genre requirements, by director Tobe Hooper, whose films POLTERGEIST and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE are indisputable horror film classics. The acting isn't exactly top notch, though Railsback, who was excellent in films like HELTER SKELTER and THE STUNT MAN, tries gamely; the script again is the culprit here.
But two things make LIFEFORCE work effectively enough. One is the incredible special effects work of John Dykstra, who is best known for working on STAR WARS and parts of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE; his effects for LIFEFORCE still hold up after more than a decade and a half. The other is the fine music score by Henry Mancini. One wouldn't expect a score somewhat similar to John Williams' STAR WARS music to come from the composer of film scores like DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES or THE PINK PANTHER, but Mancini does indeed come up with a big one, including a main theme scherzo not unlike the scherzo of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony--and he uses the London Symphony Orchestra to boot!
Realistically, no one will mistake LIFEFORCE for STAR WARS, much less 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. But as a totally weird, berserk, and unique sci-fi shocker, it does deliver the goods in its own way.
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing less than a high-camp spectacular!,
This review is from: Lifeforce (Widescreen) (DVD)"Lifeforce" (1985) is the kind of movie that Norman J. Warren ("Terror", "Inseminoid", etc.) might have made if he'd been given $23 million to work with! This crazy-wonderful movie - which could only have been produced under the 'anything goes' ethos that prevailed at the Cannon company during the 1980s - concerns a beautiful space vampiress (the gloriously naked - and nakedly glorious! - Mathilda May) whose slumbering form is discovered by astronauts in an alien spacecraft hidden in the tail of Halley's comet. Brought back to earth, she revives and escapes from captivity, whereupon she rampages throughout London, draining the 'life force' from dozens of victims, who in turn become vampiric monsters themselves, throwing the entire British capital into chaos!
This big, bold, action-packed thriller - written by Don Jakoby and Dan O'Bannon, adapted from the novel 'The Space Vampires' by Colin Wilson - is nothing less than a high-camp spectacular, directed with tremendous visual flair and knowing humor by Tobe Hooper, riding high at the time on the critical and commercial success of "Poltergeist" (1982). Aside from a constant stream of rib-tickling dialogue (which has to be heard to be believed!), other highlights include May's constant, gratuitous nudity - two male vampires (Christopher Jagger and Bill Malin) are also discovered alongside May, just as naked and beautiful as their female counterpart, but they're virtually ignored for the duration of the movie! - and my favorite, the Prime Minister (Peter Porteous) being seduced and desiccated by his sexy alien secretary 'Miss Haversham' (Katherine Schofield)!!
Better still, a starry cast of British and American thesps play the material as though it's Shakespeare: Steve Railsback (from "The Stunt Man", 1980) gives it everything he's got as the astronaut who brings May back to earth and finds himself drawn to her on a psychic level (reminiscent of a similar plot-thread in "Quatermass and the Pit" , which also concluded with London under attack from its own populace), while Peter Firth grits his teeth manfully as an SAS commander who takes charge of the unfolding situation. Of them all, only Frank Finlay has the decency to look embarrassed, though he brings genuine conviction to his role as an inquisitive scientific observer and he delivers one of the best, and most resonant, lines in the entire picture ("Here I go!"). Pastrick Stewart makes a guest appearance as an asylum director who meets a sticky end.
Photographed in glorious J-D-C Scope by Alan Hume (whose long career has encompassed the best and worst of British cinema, everything from "Carry On" comedies to James Bond extravaganzas), the film appears to be slightly over-matted on MGM's letterboxed (2.35:1) DVD - tops of heads are constantly lopped off at the top of the frame - resulting in an extremely wide image. As a consequence, the film's visual impact is greatly reduced on disc, where John Graysmark's sumptuous production design and John Dykstra's elaborate visual effects are reduced to a mere wisp of their big-screen glory - an updated anamorphic transfer is surely long overdue. By way of recompense, Henry Mancini's atypically triumphant music score is well-served by the remixed 5.1 soundtrack which sells the movie's sonic thrills with ear-blistering fidelity. All in all, if it wasn't for the nudity and violence, "Lifeforce" would be great fun for all the family. It may be camp and silly, but it's also genuinely spectacular and hugely entertaining, and it's a joy to see so much money being lavished on such a dubious commercial enterprise!
MGM's region 1 DVD presents the film in a definitive 'director's cut' running 115m 59s, approximately 15 minutes longer than the original theatrical release, and the only extras are a letterboxed trailer and an eight-page booklet which provides superficial details of the film's production history. Closed captions are included along with English subtitles via the menu, though MGM seems to have (foolishly) dropped the latter option from the majority of their subsequent DVD releases. Four stars for the movie, two for the DVD.
4.0 out of 5 stars So help me, it's easier to stomach than Species 2,
This review is from: Lifeforce (Widescreen) (DVD)Having seen this move once a long time ago, I'm no stranger to a GOOD B movie. Plus considering that there are a lot of bad ones, that's a rarity in itself. The movie itself isn't bad at all, although some will write it off, I'm sure. Then there will be some like me, who think that just seeing Mathilda May will be worth the price of admission (and trust me, you'll KNOW her when you see her... she's the girl that can't quite grasp the concept of clothing...). All in all, this movie was actually more interesting, and less of a grossout than Species or the sequel... and I'd pay double the admission to see Natashia Henstridge play this role in a remake. So I'm a little aroused by the thought.. who wouldn't be? Come on, the DVD's only $(***)... and for that price, it's worth a look... providing you're of age. No real "sex" to speak of, but I've seen just about every inch of Mathilda by now, and I'm only 20 minutes into the movie... ; )
5.0 out of 5 stars Lifetime Horror and Science Fiction Reader/Watcher (50 yrs),
By A Customer
This review is from: Lifeforce (Widescreen) (DVD)This story gives a plausible alternate reason for vampire legends (given that you believe in other intelligent life existing in the universe). The story was a little vague about how the hero was connected to the "vampires"(genetics or previous life). It explains nicely how you can have voracious vampires that infect everythink in sight and yet not have them take over the world (somthing that most other vampire stories are a little weak on). The end of the movie is truly chaotic and horrific, and the special effects were very well done. I think its a keeper.
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Lifeforce (Widescreen) by DVD (DVD - 2003)