Lifeforce (1985) – Tobe Hooper

Special effects wizard John Dykstra, legendary composer Henry Mancini, Alien scribe Dan O’Bannon, Sir Patrick Stewart, and the lovely Mathilda May are all part of Tobe Hooper’s sci-fi vampire movie.

And you’d think that with credits like that, including Steve Railsback and Peter Firth would make this a solid entry in the Monsters in the Movies book from DK Canada, but it’s just a brilliant study in audacity, and strangeness as the story seems to grow increasingly bizarre as it progresses.

The story takes off at a breakneck speed with no real time to take everything in. The space shuttle Churchill is making a pass of Halley’s comet, when they discover a derelict ship in the comet’s tail. Moments later, they are investigating it, and come across dozens of dead creatures, and a trio of contained naked human (?) bodies, including a character known only as Space Girl (May).

The Girl has an effect on the commander of the shuttle mission, Colonel Tom Carlsen (Railsback). Then like the ship in Dracula arriving in England with nothing but a dead crew, the shuttle seems to return to Earth orbit the same way.

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Of course the space vampire bodies are there and Carlsen is found, but not before Space Girl and her companions wake and begin to wreak havoc (sans clothes) under the spooky glow of the comet, bringing on a virtual apocalypse.

Instead of blood, these vampires suck the life force out of a person, usually through some sort of intimate (or almost intimate) contact, and leave them as withered husks – will humanity survive?

There’s an SAS agent on the case, Colonel Caine (Firth), a doctor who gets involved, Armstrong (Stewart) and none of them seem to be able to stop these space vampires (which was the name of the original novel by Colin Wilson). Is Carlsen the key to all of it? Can he survive the seductive allure of Space Girl? And will the mental connection he shares with her be enough to track her down?

This one starts a bit silly and gets increasingly ridiculous from there, and so bad that it comes around to good again, and the British actors all seem to take the thing so seriously. Admittedly, besides May, there are some nice effects in the film, but there are also some really bad ones. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when you learn that the film was produced by Golan-Globus Productions… you know the same studio that gave us Superman IV, and Masters of the Universe.

Still, every known and again, I like to settle in for this one, so I was delighted when it came up in the vampire section of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies.

Have you seen it? Thoughts?

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