Lifeforce (1985)
By: Mr Intolerance on August 1, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
MGM (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 2.35:1 (Non-anamorphic). English DD 5.1. English, French, Spanish subtitles. 114 minutes
The Movie
Director: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Nicholas Ball, Mathilda May
Screenplay: Dan O'Bannon, Don Jakoby
Country: USA/UK
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
Fuck off, I like it. A lot of people will trash-talk Tobe Hooper's 1985 US/UK essay into space vampires (based on Colin Wilson's story "The Space Vampires"), but I still think it's great fun, and not just because of the high boob quotient, and I deny that imputation outright.

So then, the HMS Churchill, a US/UK manned spaceship equipped with the Nerva drive (no, I don't know what it does either, and we're never told) encounters an alien vessel hidden in the wake of Halley's Comet, and commander Carlsen (Steve Railsback) decides to investigate. Carlsen and co board the alien vessel, and discover dead life-forms who closely resemble bats and then...

AH-WHOOGA! AH-WHOOGA!! Mathilda May nekkid alert! Yes, the lovely Mathilda and two fellas are found on the spaceship, and Carlsen decides that they need to be brought back to Earth, along with one of the desiccated bat-things initially found. Can't these crumb-bums put the pieces together?!

Enter: gravel-voiced Dr Bukowski, a chain-smoking English scientist dedicated to the Churchill's mission, as well as Professor Fellada (Frank Finlay, TV's original Casanova), an anatologist, one who studies death. For 30 days the Churchill hasn't been responding to any messages, and Bukowski, along with a lot of other folks, is getting nervous. When it finally gets back inside radar contact, he becomes increasingly nervous.

Due to radio-blackout from the Churchill, a sister ship, the Columbus, is launched, and brings the nekkid aliens back to Earth, despite the fact that all of the crew of the Churchill were found dead, burned either pre or post mortem.

The nekkid space aliens are brought back to London, and almost immediately wake up and cause havoc, draining the life-force of those they encounter. Mathilda gets mobile first, and shows us another of the aliens talents: mind-control. Well, after causing a lot of mayhem first. Colonel Kane (Peter Firth) from the SAS is called in, to set things to rights, but it's all gotten a bit further along than we might have thought, a gate shut after the horse has bolted.

We find out pretty quickly that this form of vampirism is pretty quickly transmitted, and if not continuously sated, is as lethal to the killer as well as the killed.

Carlsen re-appears not a moment too soon, and the story becomes a little more clear; but is Carlsen telling all he knows? Probably not, and it's pretty obvious from the get-go. Nevertheless, Carlsen and Kane become an awesome crime-fighting duo, trying to find the lovely Mathilda before anymore badness goes down.

They are, of course, too late. But this is approximately the point where we get to see Patrick Stewart as the least convincing rubber head in motion picture history, and that is worthwhile on its own merit. Hilarious stuff. And it's also the moment where Carlsen decides to give us the real story of what happened upon the Churchill.

And by this time, the sickness has spread. And it's spread like a motherfucker. London is little less than a warzone, and Carlsen and Kane have their work cut out for them. Our good-guys are unfortunately always at least three steps behind the lovely Mathilda, and by the time we hit the climactic moment, it does seem like a bit of an own goal.

Still, Lifeforce is a great bit of popcorn-munching fun. I know this film was a total flop when it was released, but I have to say that this version, with 15 minutes extra footage, actually makes it a much more credible and worthwhile story. I guess this is the reason why director's cuts are born. Also, it shows why producers are idiots. By cutting this film, they reduced its appeal. With the extra footage, none of it flab, this becomes a better film than my old VHS copy, which frankly, was a film my buddies and I would sit around and laugh at uproariously. You really should re-visit this film, in this version.
Lifeforce is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, but is not 16:9 enhanced. The image is a little grainy, and not very sharp, but for a DVD that was first released in 1998 during the format's infancy the transfer looks relatively good.
The film has been given a 5.1 remix, and it is adequate to the task at hand without being outstanding.
Extra Features
Okay, so there's an extra 15 minutes of film, but besides that, all you get is the fucking facrissakes trailer. Slim pickings in anyone's book. Note to MGM: must try harder.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
A shameful pleasure, and one I own for more than the beauty of Mathilda May's totally bodacious boobs (although that is indeed reason enough). I would severely doubt that this was Hooper's untainted vision, particularly after you see the names Golan and Globus as producers, but still, a worthy beer and pizza film. This is probably the most uncut version of the film you'll see, but the extras package is non-existant.

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