Lifeforce (1985) [REVIEW]

lifeforce movie poster tobe hooper 1985


Earlier this week, I was faced with a tough decision. I had to decide between staying home to talk shit about the Oscars on the internet or going to a screening of Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce in glorious 70mm. I had never seen Lifeforce, nor had I ever seen a movie that was shot in 70mm. Wait, does IMAX count? I saw that new Batman in IMAX, but I don’t think it’s quite the same thing. Since I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to do, I took to Twitter to get some advice. Most of the responses I got were things like: “Yeah! Lifeforce! Do that one!” or “They made Lifeforce in 70mm?” and “BOOBS! 70MM BOOBS!” With overwhelming responses like that, as well as JD using peer pressure to get me to accompany him, I ended up going to a 10pm show. On the way over, I asked JD if this movie was actually good, to which he responded, “It’s alright. I mean, it’s not bad.” WHAT A RAVE REVIEW! I was a little confused that there was such a positive response in regards to me going to see the movie yet no one actually said that the movie was good. If I thought I was confused before going into the movie, actually seeing it didn’t make things any less confusing. This movie’s crazy.


lifeforce movie corpse vampire

Someone get Calista Flockhart a sandwich! Am I right, guys?!

There’s a spaceship that’s following Halley’s Comet for a reason that I can’t remember at this time. It doesn’t REALLY matter what the reason is, because the crew is sidetracked with finding some sort of spaceship that’s two miles long. On this spaceship, the crew finds two naked dudes and one naked space lady (Mathilda May). The crew then loses touch with Earth, so a different spaceship goes to find that spaceship and brings the three naked people back to Earth. Once there, an autopsy is about to happen on a naked dude but he wakes up and kisses the pathologist and sucks out his, I don’t know, I guess his “lifeforce” or whatever. The three naked people wander around sucking out lifeforces, but then the captain of the ship that found them (Steve Railsback) is found back on Earth in an escape pod. He tells the authorities that out in space, he made out with the naked space girl and they swapped some of their lifeforce. That’s not code for bodily fluids or anything, it just means that now they share some sort of psychic connection. While the captain is trying to track down the lifeforce suckers, the whole city is getting their lifeforces sucked out, causing mass hysteria and quarantines. Once the naked space girl vampire thing is found, the captain realizes he’s in love with her and starts doing her. He’s able to snap out of what he’s doing long enough to shove an iron sword through her and himself at the same time, which shoots the two of them back into the alien spaceship to head to a different planet. OH, OKAY.


lifeforce movie vampire sucking doctor

I guess this was a nice change of pace compared to the neck biting of other vampire movies, but they’re basically just kissing. This movie has lots of kissing.

What the fuck? There was so much shit happening in this movie that was completely unnecessary and confusing that I’m only just now really understanding what the plot was. Even though that story seems straightforward, I’m leaving out things like Patrick Stewart (with hair) being injected with something that makes him tell the truth or something (?), a scene where the captain beats the shit out a woman for giving some guy a handjob, and an entire trip to the countryside as the city is undergoing a monstrous transformation. Wait…I guess all of those things happened on that trip, so had that entire trip been cut out then the movie would’ve been 30 minutes shorter and a lot less confusing. However, they actually cut OUT a bunch of stuff for this theatrical release, so I can’t even begin to understand the madness in a version that’s longer than this one. There was also some crazy bullshit about how things take two hours. If I understand correctly, if your lifeforce was sucked out, you’d turn into a shriveled up corpse. This corpse would come back to life after two hours, at which point you would have two hours to suck someone ELSE’S lifeforce, and if you didn’t, you’d explode into dust. However, if after two hours of having your lifeforce sucked and you become alive again and then suck someone else’s lifeforce within two hours, you’d look like a normal human instead of a corpse. However, you’d still have only two hours to find another corpse. WHAT’S THE FUCKING DEAL WITH THIS TWO HOUR NONSENSE?! HOW THE FUCK DID YOU FIGURE OUT THESE FUDGY FUCKING NUMBERS?! There’s also a scene where someone tells the captain that the space vampires can be killed, but not by the traditional stake through the heart. Instead, you have to stab them precisely two inches below their hearts, and THEN you’ll be in business. This guy did it ONE TIME and apparently used some precise measurements. I don’t know, maybe the book explained a little bit more of the science and methodology behind everything, but things seemed way too specific and weird.


lifeforce mathilda may naked topless boobs nude

Well, yes, Mathilda May’s tits ARE the most memorable part of this movie.

Even though the story ended up being a mess, I did appreciate the attempt on Hooper’s part to take on a project that combined multiple genres. I couldn’t help but think that the way Lifeforce was combining science fiction with the supernatural with apocalyptic elements that it was just a ripoff of John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness. Prior to Prince of Darkness, Carpenter had done a bunch of different horror films and then combined them all into this weird, apocalyptic scientific approach to the devil. I figured that Hooper had seen that movie and wanted to do his own version and that’s when Lifeforce was born. After some thorough investigations (going on IMDb), I saw that Lifeforce actually came out before Prince of Darkness and that my theory was bullshit! Still, going forward, if anyone asks me about Lifeforce then I’m just going to tell them it’s a shitty ripoff of Prince of Darkness with vampires instead of Satan. Despite the insanity of the story, I did enjoy Hooper’s monster and gore effects. Seeing someone explode into dust isn’t something you see that often and it was very entertaining. There’s also a sequence involving a Patrick Stewart dummy that’s oozing blood out of its face, and even though the mannequin isn’t at all convincing, there were some weird gravity shifting things going on that were pretty surreal and trippy. I don’t really understand why the film was shot in 70mm, other than maybe it was impressive back in the 80’s, but I guess it’s a credit to Tobe Hooper for realizing the world wouldn’t be able to handle a movie full of Mathilda May’s boobs in 35mm.


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5 responses to “Lifeforce (1985) [REVIEW]

  1. I think my favourite lifeforce related moment was the day *after* I saw it, when I was explaining it to a coworker and the words “it turns out to be a 2-mile long space umbrella radar dish for collecting life energy to feed the alien space bats” came out of my mouth. Truly something special. I was also pretty pumped that it had actual alien space bats in it.

  2. Good review! I love this movie. Just plain nuts and an appealing mess. One of my guilty pleasure flicks.

  3. Pingback: The Worst Best of 2013 List | The Wolfman Cometh·

  4. Pingback: Lifeforce (1985) | Martyn Glanville·

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