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PHOTOGRAPHY

LIFEFORCE 4K UHD Collector's Edition
4K UHD Blu-ray review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 116 minutes (international cut- blu-ray only)/ 101 minutes (theatrical cut), one 4K UD disc, two blu-ray discs, featurettes, audio commentaries, theatrical trailers, TV spot, still gallery
VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen) 1080p High Definition (both blu-ray), 2160p High Definition (4K UHD disc/ theatrical cut)
AUDIO: English Dolby Atmos (Theatrical Cut), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Subtitles: English

STUDIO: Scream Factory/ MGM/ The Cannon Group
RELEASE DATE: 5-24-2022

ANALYSIS (from the old 2013 review I wrote on the first Scream Factory release):
LIFEFORCE is Tobe Hooper's own version of a Hammer Film in 70 mm (the first of a 3 film deal for Cannon Films). 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 (which is more Lovecraftian than the movie). 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).

THE HISTORY OF LIFEFORCE ON VHS AND DISC:
The US theatrical cut saw release on VHS back in the 1980s via Vestron Video (later a Video Treasures release too) while the extended 116 minute international cut (director's cut) saw its VHS debut on June 18, 1996 via MGM (after the 1994 debut on Laser Disc in the USA) A DVD release came out from MGM on May 27, 1998 before Scream Factory licensed the title out years later for blu-ray with the first blu-ray out in 2013 followed by a steelbook blu-ray release in 2018 with improved transfers. Then newer transfers were done for the 4K UHD release that came on May 24, 2022. However only the shorter theatrical cut was put on a 4K UHD disc with Scream Factory giving the reason to not due the extended director's cut on 4K due to their worries of the elements exclusive to the extended cut being from a 35mm inter positive might not be in good quality as the print used for the theatrical cut. If Vinegar Syndrome can use an inter positive for BEASTMASTER's 4K UHD, I don't know why Scream Factory couldn't have done the same.

THE TRANSFER (4K vs blu-ray):
The scans keep improving for each blu-ray release. The first blu-ray from Scream Factory was from a 2K scan where the steelbook transfers are from a 4K scan. A new 4K scan was done in 2021 for the theatrical cut. The blu-ray transfer hovers around 30 MBps where the 4K transfer varies from 50 to 75 MBps on the low end and 80MBps to 95 MBps on the high end (with an average of mid 80MBps). The director's cut blu-ray is the same 4K transfer done in 2018 for the Lifeforce blu-ray steelbook. The bitrate averages around 35MBps. However, the 4K transfer of the theatrical cut does dip down really low in the bitrate in at least three different places like the first minute, before the 28 minute mark, and around the 95 minute mark. Then there is the question of why Scream Factory didn't want to do 4K disc of the better international/ director's cut because they felt inserting the scans of the extra footage form the interpositive of the international cut with the theatrical cut (that is scanned from the original camera negative) would be too jarring. I just don't understand why Scream Factory couldn't have done a 4K scan of the interpositive of the international cut and presented it on disc without having to combine elements from two different source elements. It is almost like Scream Factory didn't even consider this option and this 4K UHD release of LIFEFORCE was a quick cash grab before the licensing rights expire (if the rights are about to expire). I would have paid a little more for a 4 disc set of LIFEFORCE with both cuts on their own separate 4K UHD discs. Fans of the movie hope that Arrow Video releases a 4K UHD of the director's cut in the UK.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
DISC ONE is the theatrical cut on 4K UHD blu-ray disc.

DISC TWO has the Theatrical Cut from a new 4K Scan. It is an improvement over the previous LIFEFORCE disc. The extras from the first release all carry over expect a vintage featurette which was dropped after the first release of the Collector's Edition of LIFEFORCE after a rights issue arose.

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).

A TV spot, two theatrical trailers, and a still gallery are also carried over from the previous Scream Factory release

DISC THREE has the Director's Cut in a great 4K Scan of the movie (done in 2018 for the steelbook release of Lifeforce) presented on Blu-ray. It is an improvement over the first Scream Factory Collector's Edition of LIFEFORCE. Two audio commentaries are the only extra on this disc- one with Director Tobe Hooper as moderated by Tim Sullivan and the other track is with Make-Up Effects Designer Nick Maley

FINAL ANALYSIS: LIFEFORCE is one of the best sci-fi horror movie that Hammer Films wish they could have made. The 4K UHD release is frustrating since Scream Factory decided not to put the fan preferred director's cut on a 4K disc and just present the 2018 transfer on blu-ray. The 4K bit-rate is all over on the theatrical cut 4K disc with a few low bit-rate dips on the Sony 4K UHD player I used for the review. Here's hoping that Arrow releases a proper 4K of the international/ director's cut of LIFEFORCE soon (unless Scream Factory sees a cash grab to release the 4K of the director's cut).

This review is (c)6-3-2022 David Blackwell and contains material from previous LIFEFORCE blu-ray reviews back in 2013 and 2018. Send all comments to feedback@enterline-media.com and look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.tumblr.com