Sunday, 1 February 2015
After I started this blog a friend recommended Lifeforce as a film I should talk about, I hadn't seen it before but as luck would have it I was taking a weekend trip to London and The Prince Charles Cinema was screening the film just a couple hours after I arrived.
Based on Colin Wilson's 1976 novel The Space Vampires, Lifeforce was directed by Tobe Hooper, a man known for many horror film's including Poltergeist and perhaps most famously the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Released in 1985 the film starts with the crew of the space shuttle Churchill, a joint UK and US team on their way to research Halley's Comet, only to find an unidentified structure hidden in the tale of the comet. The structure appears to be an alien ship, miles in length, when a small group of the astronauts venture inside the discover the petrified remains of bat like aliens as well as three humanoids in suspended animation, one woman and two men. They decided to bring the humanoids and one of the bat's back to earth for study.
We cut to days latter when another shuttle is launcher to find out what happened to the Churchill which never returned to Earth and all communications ceased. It appears a fire broke out inside the ship with the only survivors been the three humanoids still in their suspended animation pods.
After researching the humanoids in London the female, called Space Girl in the credits, wakes up, killing a guard by sucking the Lifeforce out of him leaving him as the human version of a raisin. She kills more people across London before disappearing. Soon the guard she killed comes back to life and sucks the Lifeforce from another much the way Space Girl had to him, leading to the belief that these creatures are the origin of the vampire mythos.
Now we follow SAS Col. Colin Caine (Peter Firth) and the Churchill’s only human survivor Col. Tom Carlsen (Steve Railsback), who's escape pod landed in Texas and has developed a psychic link with Space Girl as they search for her in hope of preventing her infection more to become Space Vampires.
This is a good film but not prefect, sometimes the talking scenes can feel a bit wordy and a couple times characters seem to be explaining what we can already see, this could just dialogue the didn't transition well from the novel but having not read it I can't comment, ultimatly it dosen't bother me but I know others who it does. That been said the film has a lot going for it, Firth and Railsback are great in their respected roles, with Carlsen seeming to descend into madness and obsession with Space Girl while Caine keeps his cool despite the madness going on around him. Also of note is Mathilda May as Space Girl, possibly one of the most beautiful women ever she delivers a great performance despite having little to no dialogue till the third act, in fact her early scenes are her walking around nude but thanks to cinematography and music she has an other worldly and unsettling presence. There are many good performances in the films and in the later half Patrick Stewart has a small role as Dr. Armstrong.
There are some great effects but two stand out in particular, first is when the guard comes back to life, the animatronic for his shrivelled up body looks great, its moments can look clunky but I think it adds to the horror of what has happened to the guy. And second is a great scene where blood drains from two body’s and forms the shape of Space Girl, it just looks cool.
This film is worth a watch, as well as some good performances and effects, the direction is solid building lots of atmosphere and dread, but what else do you expect from Tobe Hooper?
Lifeforce is available on Blu-Ray from Arrow video.