Lifeforce (1985)

I’ve already done a lot of vampires this year but I’ve never seen the cult classic Lifeforce so once more into the breach, dear fiends. Most of the vamps I’ve encountered this October have been non-standard, be they four-legged bloodhounds (heh) or mindless zombie vampires. In keeping with that theme, Lifeforce brings us yet another dramatic departure from the traditional, pale-faced sexy person from beyond the grave. These vampires are instead pale-faced, sexy people from SPACE. Also, no fangs and no problems with garlic. And did I mention they’re naked space vampires?

Scientists get all the babes.

The story: We begin in the best place to find space vampires: space! A joint British and American crew is on a nerdy research mission to study Halley’s Comet aboard the space shuttle Churchill. (Presumably the USS Franklin Roosevelt was busy kicking alien ass somewhere. America! Woo!) They’re able to get to the comet at its perihelion in just a few months thanks to the super awesome NERVA Drive, which looks like nothing so much as a pendulous metal dong hanging from the ship’s underside.

Their scans pick up an unusual object floating ahead of the comet. The shuttle moves in to investigate what turns out to be a 150-mile-long spacecraft of unfathomable age and design. They head right on inside where they find thousands of giant, desiccated bat-like corpses floating around. The ship fires up all on its own (red fucking flag, geniuses) and a portal opens to a honeycomb chamber containing the perfectly preserved bodies of three normal-looking humans in crystal caskets. All the menfolk get a little wobbly around the central figure, a comely lass wearing nothing but a smile under all that plexiglass. They haul her and her two male companions back to their ship in the name of science and interstellar horndoggery. Best of all, the name of the compartment where they store this gorgeous nudist? The tug bay. Holy fuck, how did that make it through revisions? Was spank room too obvious?

You spent how much time in the tug bay?

The ship returns to earth but the entire crew is killed en route, with the exception of one lucky bastard who made it to the vessel’s lone escape pod. The three presumably dead and definitely naked alien bodies remain pristine, however. The finest scientific minds on the planet decide to bring them down for a closer look. Quarantine protocols are apparently a completely unnecessary waste of time when space poon is on the menu. It isn’t long before she-vamp wakes up and goes on a naked, soul-sucking rampage through the streets of London. A gruff British agent and the sole survivor of the Churchill step up as the world’s last line of defense against this vixen’s sexy reign of sexy terror.

Space make-outs are no joke.

Biggest letdown: This movie has its ardent supporters but I’m just not seeing it. I watched the restored original cut, which has a few extra minutes of gore and erotica. Most people agree this is the definitive version, the U.S. release having trimmed it to a more manageable length. Respectfully, this 112 minute movie would have been just fine at 85 or less. After a while the chase between the two heroes and the vampire queen feels like an episode of The Benny Hill Show. At one point the American realizes (out of nowhere) he has psychic powers, somehow bestowed on him by the naked lady. This impossibly convenient ability allows him to accurately predict exactly where she is. Or rather, where she was a few minutes before, perpetuating the pursuit ad infinitum. It goes on and on like that until we get back to London, which is suddenly engulfed in an inexplicable apocalypse scenario that totally runs afoul of the previously established rules of space vampirism. And after that, shit gets really weird. I wasn’t exactly lost but neither was I invested, so lacking in coherence was the whole affair.

Clearly one of us is overdressed.

Why you should watch: Titties! Big, beautiful titties! Now that we have that out of the- TITTIES!

Sorry. I’m done now, for realsies. But seriously, Mathilda May is just stunning and her curvy, completely nude body is on display pretty much constantly from the ten-minute mark on. She’s not much of an actor but her curling grin and wide, dark eyes deliver just the right dash of disturbing in an otherwise angelic form. It’s certainly not enough to sell an entire movie, but for better or worse it’s been the prime motivation to see this thing since it came out.

There are other high points – a brief but memorable appearance by Patrick Stewart and some nifty creature effects chief among them – but mostly the draw boils down to the movie’s premise, which is more or less sound. It’s a cool idea – sort of vampires mashed up with Chariots of the Gods – though it’s fairly sloppy in the execution. In its defense, I did very much enjoy all the sciencey stuff in space.

Baby, you were incredible.

Memorable Moment: There are a lot of truly bizarre moments late in the film that I won’t give away. One that I liked early on happens right after she-vampire kills her first victim. She was all seductive and feminine, employing a bit of low-impact sorcery before daintily marching her naked ass out the front door. As she’s disappearing into the night you start wondering what’ll happen when her male counterparts wake up. When they do, all hell breaks loose and we’re treated to the supremely masculine version of the female’s soft entrance. They take the direct approach, prompting the soldiers guarding them to open up with machine guns and grenades. It’s really militarist and even a little thrilling. They just keep walking into that hail of bullets like the Terminator. For a moment I was rooting for them to make it out, just to see what would happen.

Nothing interesting ever happens on the night shift.

Choice quote: “Don’t worry, a naked girl is not going to get out of this complex.” Right, because she has to make it all the way past three unarmed security guards. In the alternative, “Houston, we have a problem.” Shameless!

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3 Responses to “Lifeforce (1985)”

  1. […] Lifeforce – Once you go space vampire, you never go back. […]

  2. […] Lifeforce – Once you go space vampire, you never go back. […]

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