The space shuttle Churchill is assigned to observe the Halley's Comet under the command of Col. Tom Carlsen. They see a strange form attached to the comet and Carlsen goes with a team to investigate. They find three humanoid life forms in caskets and they bring them to the Churchill. However, Earth loses contact with the shuttle and the Space Research Center sends another spacecraft to search the Churchill. They find the crew dead and the shuttle burnt and one rescue pod missing. They bring the humanoids to Earth and soon Dr. Hans Fallada and his team discover that the Space Girl is a sort of vampire and drains the life force from people transforming them into zombies. When the authorities find that Col. Tom Carlsen has survived, they summon him to explain what happened in the Churchill. Carlsen tells an incredible story about the three aliens and he teams up with Col. Colin Caine trying to save mankind from the evil vampires from the space. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
An entertaining, thrilling sci-fi horror flick with a fabulously gorgeous and nude space vampiress at the center of it all.
Rating: *** out of ****
I think Lifeforce makes a very strong case for being the best "bad" movie ever made. The film is, after all, ludicrously plotted, but that actually adds to the unique charms this movie has, which actually entertains for all the right reasons. Lifeforce is exciting, thrilling, suspenseful, and always a lot of fun, thanks to the intriguing story, the first-rate special effects, the competent action sequences, and of course, the gorgeous Mathilda May wandering around in the buff.
A joint British/American crew aboard the shuttle Churchill are studying Halley's Comet when they discover a giant contraption hidden within the coma's comet. Knowing this will be their only chance to board this enigma, they suit up and enter this contraption. Inside, they discover thousands of frozen, giant bat-like creatures, and just as interesting, three humanoids (one female, the other two male) encased in crystal-like containers. They decide to take the humanoids and one bat back to the ship with them.
Thirty days go by and London has lost complete contact with the crew. So another shuttle is sent, and they discover the dessicated remains of the Churchill crew, but all three humanoids are still intact. Bringing them back to London for examination, the female one awakens, displaying the ability to drain the lifeforce out of a human being, and escapes out of the compound. Enter Steve Railsback and Peter Firth, who star, respectively, as the sole survivor of the Churchill and an agent out to stop this space vampiress from taking over the planet.
If you've read the plot summary above and find this story interesting, then Lifeforce is most certainly the film for you. The first hour is probably the most engrossing, plot-wise. When you discover that whoever the vampiress kills will also rise to drain someone else's lifeforce, that's when the stakes grow much higher, as an epidemic becomes a possibility.
The first half of the film resembles Species quite a bit, since you've got a team that's searching for a nubile alien that's on the loose (though, without a doubt, Ms. May is so much hotter than Natasha Henstridge). This same part of the plot adds another interesting aspect that makes the team's job more difficult; the vampiress has the ability to enter another person's body. Thus, they're no longer searching for a young, dark-haired beauty. She could be in anyone, which further raises the stakes.
The engrossing story-telling sort of gives away to loads of special effects and action, but I found it a good transition. The effects are often terrific and the action is really quite exciting, surprising considering that director Tobe Hooper is usually incompetent at creating thrills and suspense. Judging from the all-out chaos that occurs in the last half-hour (burning buildings, thousands of zombie-like creatures stumbling around searching for nourishment), I'd say the film had a pretty big budget to work with (I've heard figures as high as 28M, which would be higher than Aliens' 18M a year later).
Acting's probably what you would expect, with Peter Firth delivering a pretty good performance as Agent Caine. I like the guy's straightforward, calm attitude toward the situation and how he handles it. Steve Railsback as his partner who's being seduced by the vampiress in his dreams is much less impressive, sweating and overacting to amusing extents, but never coming across as very convincing. Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame is here, too, in a role that he's probably a bit embarrassed by these days.
But the most impressive of the cast is none other than Mathilda May. Watching May stand around calmly as she seduces a victim is an interesting transition from titillation to all-out horror. She's actually frightening, and that's impressive for a nude woman. Speaking of nudity, most people must have noticed that's often the most mentioned aspect of the film. Indeed, Mathilda May is one of the most gorgeous women I've ever seen. It's really perfect casting when you think about it. There's something exotic and "alien" about her looks (maybe the fact she's a foreigner helps) that adds a brilliant touch, and her perfect body helps, too, of course. Because of that exotic, "alien" look, I can't see any other drop-dead gorgeous actress who could pull this off quite as well (and this includes superhotties like Chasey Lain, Carmella DeCesare, and Tracy Ryan).
Henry Mancini's score is a pretty enjoyable listen, though hardly as good as so many have claimed it to be. Even at 116 minutes, Lifeforce actually feels rushed. Some material could have explored a little further, but that's not too big a complaint. This is one wildly entertaining film I highly recommend.
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