16 user 5 critic

Lifeform (1996)

Invader (original title)
When the Viking space capsule suddenly returns to Earth from its long ago trip to Mars, it brings with it an intelligent visitor that is part "Alien" and part "ET". Encased in armor, it ... See full summary »


Mark H. Baker


Mark H. Baker




Cast overview, first billed only:
Cotter Smith ... Dr. Case Montgomery
Deirdre O'Connell ... Dr. Gracia Scott
Robert Wisdom ... Colonel Jessie Pratt
Ryan Phillippe ... Private Ryan
Raoul O'Connell Raoul O'Connell ... Private Jeffers
Carlos Carrasco ... Sergeant Lopez
Leland Orser ... Michael Perkett, NASA
Kevin Cooney ... Lt. General McClintock
Joseph Romanov Joseph Romanov ... Private Hawkins
Damon Saleem Damon Saleem ... Private Talbert
Ivan Gueron Ivan Gueron ... Lieutenant Angstrom
Timothy Charles Timothy Charles ... Ian Ochs
Greg Webb ... Recovery Team Member (as Gregory Webb)
Peter McKernan ... Chopper Co-Pilot
Dana Kristen Vahle Dana Kristen Vahle ... Chopper Pilot (as Dirk Vahle)


When the Viking space capsule suddenly returns to Earth from its long ago trip to Mars, it brings with it an intelligent visitor that is part "Alien" and part "ET". Encased in armor, it extends a humanlike form from its shell to examine its surroundings and shows an interest in humans including a soft caress of a female scientist prior to the Army killing it. This only enrages its sibling. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


There's something out there, and it's found a way in. See more »


Sci-Fi | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sci-fi monster violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

24 September 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lifeform See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


[All trivia items for this title are spoilers.] See more »


At around one hour and five minutes as Leland Orser pulls up to the check point and is denied entry and decides to phone in there is a microphone clearly visible. See more »

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User Reviews

Intelligent and clever, for direct to video - worth a viewing
1 March 2003 | by dysamoriaSee all my reviews

I caught this film on the Sci-Fi Channel. They were hyping it as a Ryan Philippe movie, though this is clearly not so. He plays a very minor part in the story. That's the Sci-Fi Channel for you.

The important thing is that this movie is not that bad. It suffers from lack of style, lack of cinematography, poor pacing and some annoying "rigidly following the groove of the genre" plot paths.

However, there are some good things.

The actors are high quality and deserve a shot at better films. Their characters suggest depth and background, making them almost well rounded, though such depth and background is only suggested (not demonstrated) in the film. The portrayal of the scientists and military types is non-cliched. They are intelligent and have intelligent dialog. They behave as real people would.

The science details are actually based on science and smarts, instead of gadgetry and nonsense. It is clear, as mentioned in another good review, that the scriptwriter researched the material, as there are correct descriptions of the Mars lander's capabilities and design and interesting concepts about the alien lifeform are explored.

The alien lifeform is extremely well thought out and designed. It looks great on screen, too. It is possibly the most interesting thing about this film, though treated a little more like the "creature we must hunt down and kill" than I'd like. It does demonstrate interesting behaviors and qualities not seen often before, as well as something most alien creature movies never consider: intelligent motivation.

The film does not end predictably and the process the film takes to get to that end is not that bad, either. It's just a bit anticlimactic and a little flat.

This review may sound unkind. I am simply being realistic and honest. The flaws are there and they keep this film from being high quality. Yet, there is much to like. The good aspects are plenty and are of higher caliber than you would expect to find in direct to video alien-invader flics. Normally these kinds of films rely of cliche, unintelligent characters, unrealistic scenarios, sex, gunplay and gore. This film uses mostly none of those items to make its attempt at entertaining you (some violence and gunplay, but not to rediculous extremes).

I found much to enjoy about the film, from a deconstruction point of view - the technical details, the story concept, the unique uses of the genre, the excellent alien design and portrayal, and as a general "learning tool" for film study.

As a feature film, it falls flat. As an extended length episode of The Outer Limits, it would have been a "top-ten" episode.

I think that anyone who can enjoy "flawed films with good intent" should give this film a shot; it isn't grade-A material, but it's worth a viewing or two and may inspire film makers to do better in different ways.

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