Lifeforce – UK, USA, 1985 – reviews

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Lifeforce is a 1985 science-fiction horror film directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre; Salem’s Lot; Poltergeist), based on the 1976 novel, The Space Vampires, by Colin Wilson.

The screenplay was written by Dan O’Bannon (Alien; Dead & Buried) and Don Jakoby. Featuring Steve Railsback, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart and Christopher Jagger, the film portrays the fictional events that unfold after three mysterious humanoids, discovered in a space shuttle, are taken to Earth.

The film was originally announced by the Cannon Group (The GodsendSchizoidX-Ray) as an intended 1981 production.

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Plot:

While investigating Halley’s Comet, the crew of the space shuttle Churchill finds a 150-mile long spaceship hidden in the corona of the comet.

Upon entering the alien craft, the crew finds hundreds of dead, shrivelled bat-like creatures and three naked humanoid bodies (two male and one female) in suspended animation within glass coffin-like containers. The crew recovers the three aliens and begins the return trip to Earth.

During the return journey, mission control loses contact with the shuttle as it nears Earth and a rescue mission is launched to investigate. The rescuers discover that the Churchill has been severely damaged by fire, with its internal components destroyed, and the three containers bearing the aliens are all that remain intact.

The aliens are taken to the European Space Research Centre in London where they are watched over by Dr. Leonard Bukovski (Michael Gothard) and Dr. Hans Fallada (Frank Finlay). Prior to an autopsy, the female alien (Mathilda May) awakens and sucks the titular “life force” out of a guard.

The female then escapes the research facility and proceeds to drain various other humans of their life force, also revealing an ability to shapeshift. It transpires that the aliens are from a race of space vampires that consume the life force of living beings, rather than their blood…

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Lifeforce was released by Scream Factory as a Blu-ray and DVD combo with the following features:

  • Both Theatrical & International Versions (Theatrical cut available on the Blu-ray only.)
  • New Audio Commentary with Director Tobe Hooper
  • New Retrospective with Cast & Crew including Star Steve Railsback, Director Tobe Hooper
  • Original vintage “Making-Of Lifeforce” Featurette
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spot
  • Still Gallery
  • And more to be announced

1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1) (BD)/Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) (DVD)/DTS HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1/1985/116 minutes

Buy: Amazon.com

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Lifeforce has also released on Arrow Video in the UK as a 2-Disc Blu-ray Special Edition:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of both the Theatrical and Director’s Cuts
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary with director Tobe Hooper
  • Audio commentary with Academy Award-winning visual effects artist Douglas Smith, moderated by filmmaker and scholar Howard S. Berger
  • Audio commentary with make-up effects artist Nick Maley
  • Cannon Fodder: The Making of Lifeforce – An epic UK-exclusive look at the genesis, production and release of Lifeforce featuring interviews with Hooper, producer Michael J. Kagan, editor John Grover, actors Aubrey Morris and Nicholas Ball, makeup artist Sandra Exelby, screenwriter Michael Armstrong, sound designer Vernon Messenger, artistic designers Tom Adams and Douglas Smith and effects artist John Schoonraad.
  • Cast & Crew Retrospective with star Steve Railsback, Hooper, Mathilda May and more!
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spot
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
  • Collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film, a new interview with visual effects artist John Dykstra by Calum Waddell, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

Buy: Amazon.co.uk

Review:

Lifeforce is not, perhaps, a ‘good’ film in any conventional way of making that judgement, but it is so outrageously kitsch, deliriously silly and relentlessly entertaining that it’s impossible to resist.

If we assume that the main point of a movie like this is to entertain, then Lifeforce is a triumph –- one of the highlights of the decade, a gloriously deranged and perfectly ludicrous effort that is very much in the grand tradition of British horror, just cranked up to 11.

David Flint, Horrorpedia

Other reviews:

“It has to be said that Lifeforce is a big, stupid film – full of pointless, spectacular deaths, pointless, spectacular nudity and yes, pointless, spectacular explosions. It was never going to win the Best Picture Oscar, but who cares?” British Horror Films

Life­force is based on a book called The Space Vam­pires, by Colin Wil­son. As the film’s cred­its roll, you might be mis­taken for think­ing it was actu­ally based on a book called The Sexy Nude Space Vam­pires. I know I was. The sexy nude space vam­pire is a young Mathilda May, prowl­ing the streets of Lon­don and the sur­round­ing area with her boobs out, and seduc­ing elderly farm­ers who can’t believe their luck on windswept road­sides.” Bananas About Movies

“All in all I would recommend seeing Lifeforce if for no other reason than to say you saw the film “with that hot naked space vampire chick.” But in doing so you’ll discover an over the top sci-fi horror movie that contains some other great parts as well. For Tobe Hooper fans you’ll definitely want to check it out and for some it might even rate a buy if you like his work that much.” HorrorNews.net

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“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!” Ed’s Pop Culture Shack

‘With its obsessive romance, blatant eroticism (unusual for a major genre release) and ‘disease metaphor’ in the pattern of alien ‘infection,’ the film spoke more clearly about the dreads of the time (specifically the developing AIDS epidemic) than critics had heard on its original release.

Today, even the film’s detractors note the film’s sense of pace, it’s gonzo-energetic direction and its go-for-the-throat, no-holds-barred set pieces. Still, that slim comfort got Tobe Hooper who had had to wait a good fifteen years for the world to catch up with Lifeforce.’ John Kenneth Muir, Eaten Alive at a Chainsaw Massacre (McFarland)

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Buy: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

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