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IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE, THE TERROR BEGINS.
When a space shuttle crew finds a mysterious spacecraft containing three human-looking creatures in a state of suspended animation, they bring them back to Earth for further investigation.
It's only then that scientists discover that they are in fact a race of space vampires that feed off people's life-force rather than their blood. So when they escape and run amok in London, the consequences are apocalyptic - and the shuttle crew's only survivor (Steve Railsback) seems to be the only man who can stop them.
Based on Colin Wilson s novel The Space Vampires , co-written by Dan O Bannon (Alien, Return of the Living Dead) and directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Poltergeist), this lively sci-fi horror romp has a stellar cast including Peter Firth, Frank Finlay and Patrick Stewart - although it's Mathilda May's appearance as a naked female alien that attracts most attention to this day.
2-Disc Blu-ray Special Edition Special Features:
One part Alien-esque science fiction, one part supernatural thriller and one part Dawn of the Dead. --Horror Talk
An entertaining and fun slice of sci-fi/horror action. --Horror Chronicles
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Based on Colin Wilson’s novel Space Vampires, Lifeforce sees a shuttle mission to Halley’s Comet stumble upon a giant alien ship in the coma which contains some giant dead bats and three naked bodies, one played by the exquisite Mathilda May. Naturally the astronauts decide to bring the bodies back to Earth, whereupon all hell breaks loose. It turns out that that they’re actually alien vampires who drain ‘life energy’ from their victims instead of blood. Shuttle commander Steve Railsback, who has a psychic link with May’s space vampire, and po-faced SAS man Peter Firth team up to track May down.
The story is fundamentally sound, but while Lifeforce is visually impressive the whole thing feels like something made in the 70s. Hooper has said that his intention was to make an expensive Hammer movie, and that’s probably a good way to describe Lifeforce, though personally I don’t think that was the best approach. What could have been a classic 80s sci-fi horror flick instead descends into an absurd zombie movie with scenes which look like outtakes from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video.
Performances are variable to say the least. While the supporting cast is very good (including the likes of Frank Finlay, Aubrey Morris and a pre-Picard Patrick Stewart), the two leads are a bit of a liability. Peter Firth is a great actor, but here he’s so stiff and humourless that you don’t really give two hoots whether he lives or dies, and Steve Railsback is woefully wooden throughout. Of course when most people think about Lifeforce the first thing that springs to mind is Mathilda May who spends most of the film in the buff. May’s space lady doesn’t have much to say, but she certainly makes an indelible impression.
The visual effects, supervised by the legendary John Dykstra, are generally very good, though even for 1985 they sometimes seem a little antiquated. The make-up and creature effects are rather more variable though – while the animatronic zombies are effective given how old this movie is, the bat creatures are pretty rubbish. One indisputable triumph is Henry Mancini’s energetic score, which for some peculiar reason was largely replaced for the US release.
Arrow’s high definition presentation is generally good, though does seem quite grainy at times (the clips in the bonus material seem sharper than the movie itself, though I believe these have a different aspect ratio so a comparison probably isn’t valid). Arrow have also carried over most of the special features from the earlier US Shout Factory release, with the exception of a vintage ‘making of’ featurette. So you get interviews with Hooper, Railsback and May and two trailers which amount to around 30mins, plus commentaries. However Arrow have also included a new 70min ‘making of’ documentary with contributions from many of the behind-the-scenes personnel. This is pretty good, though Hooper only makes a few appearances, and Railsback and May don’t appear at all. Shockingly none of the bonus features have subtitles, which really is not acceptable.
There is no doubt that Lifeforce is very watchable and pretty entertaining, but there is undoubtedly a ‘so bad it’s good’ element to it at times.
Underneath the ludicrous zombie antics, dodgy lead performances and iffy effects there is a good movie trying to break out which could have been realised with a different approach. But then maybe with a different director at the helm we wouldn’t been treated to the sight of a naked space vampire lady. The film itself is really only worthy of 3/5, but with a decent HD transfer and a good selection of bonus features I’ll give the overall package four stars.
the space ship had 3 bodies which were brought to earth , the clincher of this film which contrary to some critics
isn't that bad, is that the body's are naked and not dead the main villain( if you like ,) the girl is very active by draining
the life force out of unwilling victim's soon the whole of London is in uproar as victim resurrects after 2 hours and
needs life force from others so the thing escalates until the whole of s population attack each other to get their fix
the hero ( steve railsbacks acting is really bad, nearly hysterical at times and I don't mean ha ha funny hysterical,
the hero is aided by peter firth ( spooks) as a SAS colonel investigating the situation( obviously the films producer director
does not know the role of the SAS because this would not happen, SAS is a elite army unit and not police or mi5)
the real star is of course MATHILDA MAY the total nude vampire girl .
I expect most watched it because of Ms may, but to be honest the film isn't to bad
effects are very good plot is ok ,
when shown in the USA they edited quite a bit, mostly because ms may was nude
and they wanted the films rating to be adjusted for the teen market
so both versions are included here international (world wide full version)
and theatrical ( mostly usa version)
What a great release of this eighties sci fi romp.
Steve Railsback leads an impressive British cast in this over the top story of vampires from outer space turning London into a zombie infested nightmare.
Nudity, gore, space travels and the good old English stiff upper lip are on offer here as Quatermass And The Pit meets Monty Python.
Only problem is, I don't think it's actually meant to be funny...OH WELL!
Picture and sound quality are excellent.
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 :)
Wonderful release from Arrow, as always. Really puts them on the map as one of the best distributors of classic/cult film.
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