LIFEFORCE is Tobe Hooper’s own version
of a Hammer Film in 70 mm. I could imagine Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee
in this movie if it was made in the 1960s or early 1970s instead of 1984. This
1985 sci-fi cult classic starts out as a sci-fi movie before turning into a space vampire movie before switching again to
a mystery to an end of the world zombie action movie. Director Tobe Hooper and
Screenwriters Dan O’Bannon and Don Jakoby throw in everything in this wild adaptation of Colin Wilson’s novel
SPACE VAMPIRES. I love this movie even though some elements don’t quite
work as well as they should, but the stuff that does work makes this a cult sci-fi horror gem.
The special effects (by John Dykstra) are mostly wonderful (with only a couple of scenes showing their age) with a
tightly paced movie with some good performances even from the inexperienced Mathilda May (who shows a gripping presence as
the head space vampire despite her being naked for most of her time on screen much to the delight of many teenage boys) and
a sweeping epic score by Henry Mancini.
LIFEFORCE had a troubled production history
as they started without a finished script and then the US version was cut down to 101 minutes from Tobe Hooper’s preferred
116 minute cut (which was edited down from a longer 126 minute cut) with the theory they could fit in more showings with a
shorter running time, but the cuts rush the movie too much and sometimes it does come off as disjointed.
LIFEFORCE starts with a modified (European
Space Agency) Space Shuttle (called the Churchill) that sets out to investigate a big ancient alien spaceship in the tail
of Hailey’s Comet. The Churchill drifts into Earth orbit about thirty days
later as a burned out husk inside with only three nude humanoid bodies left intact.
The rescue mission brings those bodies down to earth and soon all hell breaks loose.
The space vampires have let loose a life energy sucking plague on the United Kingdom as the only survivor of the Churchill,
Colonel Carlsen (Steve Railsback), shows up with a special link to the head space
vampire (Mathilda May). He teams up with SAS Colonel Colin Caine (Peter Firth)
to track down the space vampires before it is too late. With help from Dr. Fallada
(Frank Finaly), they start to search for the female space vampire as they soon realize time is running out as the space vampire
spaceship inches closer to Earth. LIFEFORCE is a highly erotic piece of sci-fi
horror that you shouldn’t miss if you’re a fan of Hammer horror films, Tobe Hooper, Clive Barker, Quatermass,
or want to see Patrick Stewart in a different role from Captain Picard or Professor X (the moderator jokes Stewart is trying
out for Professor X on the audio commentary with Tobe Hooper).
MGM disc vs. SCREAM FACTORY disc: The video quality on the Scream factory disc blows the MGM non-anamorphic disc away. The MGM disc was a little murky looking at times with some compression artifacts. No such problems on either the DVD or Blu-ray on the Scream factory release. Also the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is very dynamic.
The team at Scream Factory did a great job in making LIFEFORCE look and sound fantastic, but it wouldn’t look
this good without Tobe Hooper overseeing new color correcting to make the movie look like it was intended to look.
The Blu-ray includes the shorter 101 minute
US theatrical cut which has only been seen on VHS and Cable TV before this release.
The other extras are both on the Blu-ray
Audio commentary with Director Tobe Hooper
and a moderator discuss how the movie was renamed LIFEFORCE and all of the text and subtext in the story along with how the
story is like a Quartermass story and Hammer Films movie.
Audio commentary with Special Make-Up Effects
Designer Nick Maley
SPACE VAMPIRES IN LONDON WITH TOBE HOOPER-
Tobe Hooper looks back at the making of LIFEFORCE
CARLSEN’S CURSE WITH STEVE RAILSBACK-
Steve Railsback talks about his early career and how he was cast for LIFEFORCE and how it was working with Mathilda May
DANGEROUS BEAUTY WITH MATHILDA MAY- Mathilda
May talks about how she was cast, how the scene covered in blood was uncomfortable, and how she was amazed she did the role
in the nude somehow back then (she said she wouldn’t do something like that now for a role).
Vintage MAKING OF LIFEFORCE featurtte (in
1.33:1) is a detailed and well-made making-of featurette that reveals a few behind-the-scenes secrets into how they made the
TV spot, two theatrical trailers, and a
FINAL ANALYSIS: LIFEFORCE is a cult sci-fi classic you should see if you haven’t already. It looks and sounds so good with some good retrospective interviews and extras on the blu-ray. Another A plus job by Scream Factory.
This review is (c)6-28-2013 David
Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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