Aka – Space Vampires
Lifeforce has such a wicked premise (from a great writer), it always seemed like a movie I should love. It has zombies ! Vampires ! Aliens ! Space ! Good effects ! Cool story ! Cool alternate title ! Exclamation mark ! Anyway, I tried watching it when I was younger and found it boring, has time been kind ?
The film begins with several astronauts discovering an enormous spaceship hidden in Hailey’s Comet. All of the occupants are dead, save for 3 human-like beings (2 male, 1 female) who are frozen in suspended animation. Once on earth these “space vampires” begin stealing people’s “Lifeforce”, turning them into mindless zombies. Can humanity stop them in time ?!
The cast does a good job with the material and included a few familiar faces. Obviously the first that jumps out is Patrick Stewart, and it’s fun waiting to see him pop up. In addition Steve Railsback (Helter Skelter, Alligator 2, Disturbing Behaviour) turns in a good performance as the main astronaut who first discovers the space vamps.
One of the most exciting things about this movie is the talent involved. Tobe Hooper had made a name for himself with the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, but it was “Poltergeist” that helped solidify his name as a director. He signed a 3 movie deal after that success, with “Lifeforce” being the first (his remake of “Invaders from Mars” and follow up “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” were the other two). Hooper does a good job directing the action, no doubt having learned much from Spielberg on set of “Poltergeist”.
Even more influential than Hooper was writer Dan O’Bannon. He’s written some truly awesome movies, including Total Recall, Dead & Buried, Alien, Return of the Living Dead (which he also directed), Blue Thunder and 2 of the segments from the awesome “Heavy Metal” animated movie. O’Bannon is geek royalty, and he brings a lot of fun ideas to “Lifeforce”.
Now, I’m not gonna say this is an awesome movie. It certainly doesn’t live up to the amount of awesome in its premise. It starts well, has good effects and maintains interest for the first hour or so, but at some point it sort of fizzles out. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but by the end of the movie you’re just sort of like “Oh, cool”.
That having been said, there is still a lot to like about this movie. Lifeforce would turn out to be a flop, as would his two follow up films. Oddly enough, all 3 have gained cult status in the years since, and it’s certainly not hard to see why. That said, this is my least favourite film of those three, but it’s certainly my favourite with space vampires. Too bad it sort of sucks.