Sunday, December 27, 2009
Director: Tobe Hooper
Writers: Dan O'Bannon and Don Jakoby
Starring Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart, Nicholas Ball, Aubrey Morris and Nancy Paul
Tobe Hooper is a director that seems to be hit and miss a lot of times. For every classic he makes like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, he gives us turkeys like Crocodile and Invaders From Mars. But when he makes a great film he really hits it out of the park. I think Lifeforce is one of those films. This was a film that was pretty much ignored when it first came out, but over the years it has gotten somewhat of a cult status, and a lot of that comes from the role of Mathilda May and her being sans clothes throughout most of the film. But, the film has a lot going for it, it has a great premise and plot that is never dumbed down for the audiences. It has some great SFX effect sequences and some great performances by Railsback and Stewart. It gives a unique perspective to the vampire and really makes it into its own thing. I think it is one of the more creative takes on the vampire legend, and admittedly the film is a bit dry but for someone who grew up on Hammer films, this method really works for my enjoyment of the film.
The plot basics are this, Hailey's Comet has returned and a American/British joint effort sends a space shuttle to investigate it. They get up close to the comet and discover a spaceship near it with several bodies in it and a few that look to be in perfect condition. The Crew then takes the bodies onboard their ship to have them investigated when they return back to Earth. When the shuttle returns to Earth it is found burnt out and everyone is dead except for Carlson (Railsback) and the 3 alien bodies are still in perfect condition. They take the body of the female alien (May) back to their laboratory and it somehow revives and begins to suck the lifeforce out of anyone it comes in contact with. Soon, it is discovered that anyone who falls prey to the alien will come back as a lifeforce sucking vampire and soon it infects all of London turning the denizens of the city into life sucking zombies. It soon becomes clear that Carlson has a psychic rapport with the alien female and with the help of Colonel Caine (Firth) of the SAS that they must put a stop toe the alluring and dangerous vampire.
This is a exceptional hybrid science fiction/horror film. Hooper's direction really has the feel of a British horror film. Which has a lot to do with a mostly British cast. He uses all this very well and it makes the film feel like one of the Hammer Quatermass films. The overt sexuality in the film also pushes it over the edge and all the sexual frustration that is alluded to in the film works very well. IT is a slow burn film, but Hooper runs it very well and you never feel like your time is wasted by the film. The script is another great genre piece by O'Bannon. It combines several genres, the science fiction genre, the horror genre, the post apocalyptic genre and the mystery genre. The character of Carlson really propels the film forward and you are always in his corner throughout all the proceedings. The vampiress is an enigma much of the time and that works in the story's benefit. The cast is great, with great performances by Railsback and Stewart. Firth is also good as the logical hero in the film that is not swayed by the beguiling sexiness of the vamp. What really makes the film work though is May, she is unencumbered by clothes and it just seems natural. She is very enticing but at the same time very dangerous. It is a hard thing to keep balanced but she does it very well. The SFX and effects of the film are exceptional as well. My personal favorite is when the husk of the vamp's first victim comes to life, it is very freaky and a bizarre sight to watch. The score by Henry Mancini also adds to the film's charm. It is haunting and overtly sexual which works well with the themes of the film/ This is one of Hooper's underrated gems in my book and well worth seeking out.
This one gets 5 out of 5