Friday, December 6, 2013

LIFEFORCE (1985)

Have you talked to your family about naked space vampires yet?  LIFEFORCE might help with that difficult, but necessary conversation.   A crew of astronauts encounter Halley's Comet and find a strange floating ship hanging out in its cone.  They board and are then immersed in a very ALIEN environment.


It's hard not to cite ALIEN in these early scenes, not long after ALIEN screenwriter Dan O'Bannon's writing credit for this has faded.  But originality doesn't mean goodness or vice versa, plus LIFEFORCE soon introduces an element that ALIEN didn't.


Naked space vampires.  That's Mathilda May, totally exposed in front as the girl vamp.  The exploratory astronauts take all these naked people back to their ship along with the corpse of a batlike thing.  


Everything seems fine with the nudes under glass AT FIRST, but this is a horror movie and soon people are shrinking down to Nicole Ritchie size, but more raisin-y, and then dying.  And this is just the prologue!  Most of LIFEFORCE takes place on Earth, where the vampires and the single astronaut survivor have a showdown in London.


More Mathilda May nudity occurs, with hysterically creative blocking to shield her tutu from public viewing.  At this point, the nudity levels in LIFEFORCE level off, but the insanity levels shoot right to the moon.


Some of the vamp-victim effects are questionable, but stick through the middle portion of this film and you'll be rewarded with all sorts of baffling nonsense.


Young Patrick Stewart is not even in the top ten of strange things that the film throws at you.  We get psychic bondage, lines like "Despite appearances, this woman is a masochist!", a secretary named Miss Havisham, and about thirty minutes of vampire street riot mayhem.  These vamps don't suck blood, they ingest the lifeforce of their victims, and LIFEFORCE straddles the line between its more science-first revision vampism and traditional tropes and atmosphere.


I generally evaluate movies by asking three questions.  What were the filmmakers trying to do?  How worthy is that goal?  How well did they succeed?  LIFEFORCE evades any attempt at answers.  It's a mishmash of stuff (ALIEN, QUATERMASS, French softcore) that demands attention through its bold weirdness.


RATING: 6

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