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Danny Boyle was not the first person to realise that zombies can run like the clappers. That honour belongs to Lifeforce, which is, of course, the greatest naked space vampire zombies from Halley's Comet running amok in London end-of-the-world movie ever made. Tobe Hooper may have made a lot of crap, but for this deliriously demented epic sci-fi horror he deserves a place among the immortals. Plus it offers space vampire Mathilda May, the best thing to come out of France since Simone Simon, spending the entire movie naked. Which she does very, very well. Just bear in mind that while she is the most overwhelmingly feminine presence anyone on Earth has ever encountered, she's also "totally alien to this planet and our life form and totally dangerous." It's a pitch meeting I'd have loved to have sat in on: Astronauts from the British space program find three naked humanoid alien life forms inside a giant 150-mile long artichoke/umbrella shaped spaceship hidden in the tail of Halley's Comet filled with giant desiccated bats and bring them back to Earth with near apocalyptic results as they proceed to drain the population of London of their lifeforce amid much nudity, whirlpools of thunder and spit your coffee across the room direlogue ("I've been in space for six months, and she looks perfect to me." "Assume we know nothing, which is understating the matter." "Don't worry, a naked woman is not going to get out of this complex."). Oh, and we'll get the writers of Alien and Blue Thunder to write it with uncredited rewrites by the writer of Mark of the Devil, The Sex Thief and Eskimo Nell and the director of The Jonestown Monster. Sounds like a winner, here's $22m - have fun. And they do, they do.

True, there's enough promise in the raw material to have made something genuinely creepy and thought-provoking (at a time when AIDS hysteria was approaching its height, a sexually transmitted 'plague' offers ample opportunity for allegory), but in the hands of the Go-Go boys at Cannon, what could have been another Quatermass and the Pit quickly turns instead to be more Plan 10 From Outer Space. It's full-to-bursting with delirious inanity, be it Frank Finlay's hilarious death scene ("Here I go!"), Peter Firth's grand entrance ("I'm Colonel Caine." "From the SAS?" discreetly shouts Michael Gothard across a room full of reporters: "Gentlemen, that last remark was not for publication. This is a D-Notice situation" he replies to the surprisingly obliging pressmen), the security guards offering Mathilda May's naked space vampire a nice biscuit to stop her escaping, reanimated bodies exploding into dust all over people, the sweaty Prime Minister sucking the life out of his secretary ("Miss Haversham! Miss Haversham!") and London filling up with zombie nuns, stockbrokers and joggers as the city gets its most comprehensive on screen trashing since Mrs Gorgo lost junior at Battersea Funfair and went on the rampage. And that's not mentioning the "This woman is a masochist! An extreme masochist!" scene or the great stereophonic echo effect on the male vampire's "It'll be a lot less terrifying if you just come to me" line while a lead-stake wielding Peter Firth adopts his best Action Man voice to reply "I'll do just that!" In one scene alone you have a possessed Patrick Stewart embodying the female in our deeply confused astronaut hero's mind, Steve "I-never-got-over-playing-Charlie-Manson" Railsback and his amazing dancing eyebrows in full-on "Helta-Skelta!" mode trying to resist the temptation to kiss him, the inimitable Aubrey Morris (the only man who makes Freddie Jones look restrained) playing the Home Secretary Sir Percy Heseltine as a kind of demented Brian Rix, Peter Firth (one of those actors who always looks like he must have been a Doctor Who around the time no-one was watching it anymore) hamming up the blasé public school macho in the hope that no-one will ever see it and the peerless reaction shots of John Hallam as the male nurse who keeps on opening the door mid-psychic-tornado to bring in more drugs. As if they needed any more in this film. It's just a shame that Frank Finlay's mad-haired scientist who isn't qualified to certify death on alien life forms (a role originally intended for Klaus Kinski) missed out on the action in that one.

No matter how mad you think the film is, it still manages to get madder still, whether it be a zombie pathologist ("He too needs feeding") exploding all over the Home Secretary's suit, Patrick Stewart's blood and entrails forming a naked Mathilda May or the space vampires turning St Paul's Cathedral into the world's biggest laser-show to transport human souls from the London Underground to their geostationary mother ship. I loved every gloriously insane moment. In it's own truly unique way, this might be the greatest film ever made.

While the DVD offers a non-anamorphic transfer of the 116-minute version with a trailer the only extra, both Shout Factory's US Region A-locked Blu-ray and Arrow's region B Blu-ray offer both the original 116-minute version that opened in the UK and the heavily edited 101-minute US version, which loses most of the spectacular opening and a lot of entertaining inanity in its misguided desire to up the pace. The longer version not only offers much more hilarity for your dollar, but also fully restores Henry Mancini's score to its original glory (the US version covered a lot of the gaps with additional cues by Michael Kamen and James Guthrie). Although a somewhat surprising choice at first sight, Mancini cut his teeth on many of the classic Universal sci-fi horrors of the 50s and his score is quite superb, with a terrific driving main title that offers a rare reminder of just how interesting he could be away from Blake Edwards.

There are some subtle differences between the transfers on the two pressings - the UK edition is spread over two discs (with the extras all on the same disc as the long version) while the US edition crams both versions of the film and the extras onto a single disc, with some resulting minor compression issues. The grading on the US edition has also been slightly tweaked by Hooper to make Ms May's flesh tones look colder, the UK edition following the original grading.

Both versions share new interviews with Mathilda May, Tobe Hooper and Steve Railsback, two audio commentaries and trailers, but each has unique extras as well - the US release the original making of documentary, the British one an additional commentary by the VFX artist and, best of all, a terrific new 70-minute documentary with Hooper, Nicholas Ball, serial overactor Aubrey Morris, script doctor Michael armstrong and various members of the crew recounting an endless shoot (long enough for May to learn perfect English) with a director described as a demonic dwarf with impeccable manners fuelled by caffeine, cigars and other substances and doesn't stint on the problems of, er, downstairs grooming for its leading lady.

Let joy be unconfined!
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on 9 July 2010
"Lifeforce" boasts a rousing, thunderous score by Henry Mancini, it boasts some hilariously straight-faced acting, some very proficient visual effects and a generous helping of most agreeable soft porn. You could do much, much worse than check out this movie. Is it a bad movie? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on your poison. But it is unquestionably an enjoyable movie. One of those pesky, interfering space missions goes and brings a trio of "space vampires" back to Earth, one of them being a uniformly nude Mathilda May, who has a bit of a thing going on with one of the astronauts, Colonel Carlsen (a delightfully earnest Steve Railsbeck), in between feasting on the "lifeforce" (as opposed to the blood) of various extras and minor roles, reducing them to hideous, dessicated, shrieking, mindless husks that in turn seek out the "lifeforce" of other people. That is where the glorious destruction of London comes in, later on in the proceedings and very well handled for a film that endures a reputation for being amongst the worst ever made. There is imagery within those sequences that is up there with the blockbusters. "Lifeforce" has a perfectly creditable cast, including a pre "Spooks" Peter Firth as SAS Colonel Caine, Frank "Bouquet Of Barbed Wire" Finlay as one of the boffins and Patrick Stewart gobbing out a lot of blood from his mouth. The fact that they play this trash so seriously is one of the fun aspects. Oh, come on - it's trash. But it is glorious trash. It is proud trash. Trash is sometimes good, and here you have an example. "Lifeforce", the celluloid Big Mac - of no nutritional value whatsoever, but very, VERY enjoyable. Tuck in.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 October 2013
Lifeforce has always divided it's audience since it's release. Indeed anyone trying to create a film of Colin Wilson's "philosophical" novel "The Space Vampires" was going to be in for a tough time - let alone Tobe Hooper whose reputation was built on schlock horror. That said, the film certainly has its followers and if you are one of them this new blu ray will delight you. If you are not - well - however good the transfer, this rather dated tale of "sexy" "vampires" on the loose in London won't appeal!

So what I'm reviewing is the quality of the blu ray on offer, here is my take on the technical spec. of the new disc.

Arrow offers a fine AVC encoded 1080p transfer in an expansive 2.35:1. format in which Hooper oversaw both the restoration and transfer. The results far exceed the old SD version and is even an improvement on the Shout (Scream Factory) US release as it puts both versions ( ie the Theatrical and International versions) on their own separate disc and have cleaned up the prints even more thoroughly than the impressive American edition.

The colour, definition and contrast are all massively improved from the old DVD, particularly in the final part of the film which is shot in darkness. There is no evidence of digital messing around either so that clear, but unobtrusive, grain remains. Any softness - and there is some - I'm sure comes from the source material.

There is a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and a 2.0 track. The 5.1 track provides some stunning immersive effects and does full justice to both the dialogue and Henry Mancini's (very untypical) score.

Of the two versions the International works best for me as at 116 minutes ( not 106 as is said on the insert material) it has more clarity and logic and you get to hear the complete Mancini score without the orchestral interpolations from another hand you have on the general release print.

Undoubtedly both spectacular and sexually explicit, this horror romp - vaguely reminiscent of Nigel Kneal meets Paul Raymond - won't please everyone, but few can disagree over the excellent quality of these two new transfers and the extensive and impressive extras on offer too!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 March 2016
So bad it's good!

I first saw this on TV in the late 1980's, as a teenager, and loved it. Cool story and fantastic effects. I bought it on VHS and, later, DVD. Now I've got the Blu-ray. This latest version is, as one would expect, the finest quality. Excellent picture and sound.

Plot: a human space trip encounters a huge derelict alien craft, and finds 3 naked people on board (together with strange bat creatures). The naked people are brought back to Earth. There, they cause havoc - as it turns out that they're master vampires, who drain the energy (the lifeforce) out of human's. We've got to stop them before it's too late!

The basic idea behind the plot is insightful (based on a French novel). I enjoy re-watching this movie about once every 2 or 3 years, a it involves having a good laugh. The acting is over the top, and often very wooden. Some of the things that happen are down right amazing. Best bits for me: the mega-attractive naked female vampire ... the lifeforce moments ... and the death scenes.

The film is actually so bad in so many ways that it becomes great!
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on 28 December 2012
As a Sci-fi fan born in the early 90s I know the charms of Silent Running, the influential magnitude of Mertroplis and I even know how Soylent Green is made. These are great science fiction films that even if you weren't born when they were released all sci-fi fans know of them because they are cult classics and will always have an active fanbase. So how come so many people including myself have never heard of Lifeforce. Perhaps it's the crappy title (though it's an improvement over the original source called Space Vampires) which sounds like a Yoga instruction video but this film is a classic. It's well made with some astounding practical special effects which I would say are as good as Carpenter's 'The Thing' (and that is very high praise indeed). It is simply so much fun, it starts off like Alien with the investigation of a derelict space craft, then turns into a hunt for the killer alien on Earth before turning all apocalyptic with panic on the streets of London and the end of the world insight. The alien woman is naked all the time and although it sounds exploitative it's actually a very clever part of the plot and the lack of shame at being nude and stared at makes it feel even more alien. This film is on quite a large scale for it's time and it's interesting seeing such an epic story filled with British actors and settings. This British-ness combined with the nudity and horror special effects create the feeling of the most epic Hammer Horror production ever. This is a great film which deserves to be viewed by a modern audience, it's well made, well acted and it is fun to see a film that is British but has no restraint, it is aiming to be as epic as possible and it achieves this in a really great opening and climax.
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VINE VOICEon 6 February 2004
This is brilliant fun set in some weird Americanised sterotype version of London. The special FX are really great and so are the creature FX particularly the shrivelling up when the vampires drain you. Tobe Hooper films are often hard to pin down, I can never make up my mind if the campiness in this was intentional or just down to plain incompetance. The best line is when a couple of vampires have been blown to bits and someone says "Collect up the pieces and WATCH THEM!!". You've seen shots inside NASA mission control, all those people? Europe mission control in this is like one guy with a radio! Watch out for the security guard trying to tempt a naked vampire woman with a biscuit. Priceless beer and popcorn entertainment.
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on 16 February 2016
For me it's one of those 'so bad it's good' situations so when I seen there was a special edition I didn't hesitate!

It's an exhaustive set, the centrepiece of which is the feature length documentary detailing the making of this troubled film.

The print is rather good, showcasing the brilliant special effects in glorious HD and you get to choose either to watch the Theatrical Version or the International Version (main differences being the score and sequences on the shuttle - or lack of).

Oh you get a booklet too - I do love a booklet me! One of those black papery ones that you can leave unfortunate fingerprints on :)
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on 22 January 2016
Alien invasion films present one particular difficulty for any director - character development. What character does an alien have, aside from being an alien, for goodness' sake? One way of avoiding the problem altogether might be to make the alien attractive..

Nothing if not entertaining, this is an average genre film enlivened by some unusual sci-fi moments and the admittedly delectable involvement of Mathilda May, who wears nothing throughout. The weakest technical moments are towards the end, featuring some rather unrealistic, in fact lame destruction scenes, supposedly set in London; the better are those involving the revival of the alien life-forms from their cryogenic state. It's all watchably exciting but, despite the head start that Miss May's involvement (and, indeed, that of Sir Patrick Stewart, who is wasted) should be providing, "Lifeforce" generates insufficient human interest to place it to the fore, as a film of its type. Special effects that turn human beings into exploding dustbins are just not sufficient on their own.

For a better demonstration of Mathilda May's feisty acting ability, I should recommend "Trois places pour le 26", a engaging comedy-romance by Jacques Demy, in which she stars with Yves Montand.
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on 24 July 2016
Nudity. I never saw such beautiful nudity in a science fiction horror movie. But besides the beauty of the leading actress who runs around all the time in her perfect breasts and body - i must say i frequently got arroused by her - i was able to concentrate on the story itself which is a sublime science fiction horror story. They find alien life but it appears to be not as they know it or expect it and then as usual all hell breaks loose. This is a Tobe Hooper masterpiece. I love this director very much. Eaten Alive was another masterpiece on Arrow Video. But while the latter was funny but terrifying comedy horror with a crocodile this one is pure alien terror in his worst form. And the villain is a sheer beautiful nude female alien. What more do you wish ? That this is a sublime movie off course and that is what it is. A killer must have in the Arrow Video catalogue.
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on 11 July 2016
Patrick Stewart, Frank Finlay & others must have had divorces to pay for but who cares, this is one nutty sci fi film in a genre that boasts many nutty films for sure. Mathilda May, what can I say? What an inspiration to star her and to run out of funds when it came to wardrobe budget. You can imagine the conversation, can't you? Ms May, the fee you require has used up the rest of the budget so if you want this much, you are going to have to agree to appear naked throughout the film.
The film is so terrible that it's great. I love the vampires that suffer from identity crisis and become vampire zombie hybrids.
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