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Lifeforce


The best nekkid-space-vampire movie ever made.

Rod Lott June 14th, 2013

Tobe Hooper got a raw deal. The director of horror hits The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Poltergeist didn't deserve to be sent to movie jail for 1985's Lifeforce. It's a well-crafted, well-intentioned work that was mismarketed and misunderstood, losing a bundle of money and soon sending Hooper into the lands of episodic television and direct-to-video features.

lifeforce

Time may heal all wounds, but it can't repair damaged careers. It does, however, prove Hooper was in the right all along, especially judging by Shout! Factory's Blu-ray edition, which allows American viewers to see the longer international cut while also giving them Cannon's trimmed theatrical version. Whether you watch one, the other or both, the end result is the same: While definitely crazy and a tad elongated, Lifeforce is not a pile of sci-fi shit.

Lifeforce warns against the exploration of space during Halley's Comet, because you just never know when a 150-mile-long ship may show up, too. Led by Col. Carlsen (Steve Railsback, The Stunt Man), a team of HMS Churchill astronauts investigates and finds the craft full of bat-like creatures (not to mention, as with Alien, pervading vaginal/womb imagery).

Carlsen also finds what appears to be a few fully naked humans hanging in glass coffins and suspended animation. Because of them is a beautiful and curvy brunette (Mathilda May, The Jackal), Carlsen makes damn sure to bring her back to the Churchill. When the Churchill lands in Britain, the unclothed space woman is the only one alive. She's a walking definition of "supple," using her wiles to seduce men so she can suck them clean of their lifeforce.

Given something of an epic treatment, Lifeforce is taken seriously by its creators, even if it sounds seriously silly. Deriding it as hokey is to ignore several fine performances (Railsback's not among them), a script that's constantly surprising, a grand score by old master Henry Mancini and excellent in-camera effects. I would hate to see this made today with CGI.

Shout! Factory's Blu-ray/DVD Collector’s Edition contains the numerous extras its Scream Factory line is known for, starting with a half-hour promo disguised as a TV special that I remember watching on an OKC UHF station in the summer of '85. New featurettes include brief sit-downs with — in order of most minutes to fewest — May, Hooper and Railsback.  —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
Alien Anthology Blu-ray review     
The Burning Blu-ray review    
Halloween II / Halloween III: Season of the Witch Blu-ray reviews      
The Howling Blu-ray review      
The Stunt Man Blu-ray review  



 
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