Final Girl Film Club: Tobe Hooper’s ‘Lifeforce’.

Lifeforce (1985)

What the hell was that?

Okay, I’ve got to admit it. Before Lifeforce was chosen as the latest (and my first) entry in the Final Girl Film Club, I really didn’t know anything about it. I mean, yeah, I’d heard it mentioned in passing, but I pretty much thought that it was considered just another of Tobe Hooper’s failed directorial efforts (read: Everything that’s not Leatherface- or Spielberg-related). Oh, but it’s so much more! We’ve got boobies, space travel, giant bat creatures, boobies, zombies, Patrick Stewart, space vampires, and boobies! Really, what more could you ask for in a movie?

Oh. A coherent plot? Well, erm…

I’m not sure if I should blame the scattershot-ness of the plot on the screenwriters, Dan O’Bannon and Don Jakoby, or on the writer of the original novel (cleverly titled The Space Vampires), Colin Wilson. But since Dan O’Bannon is responsible for the existence of Alien AND Return of the Living Dead, and Colin Wilson is some guy I’ve never heard of, I’m going to go ahead and place the blame on Wilson. That’s how journalism works, folks!

The plot goes something like this: A crew of British and American astronauts* who are in space for…something… discover that there’s a 150-mile long alien spacecraft hanging out in the tail of Haley’s comet. Of course, they go to investigate and discover that the inhabitants of the spacecraft — giant bats, basically — are all dead. But the crew soon discovers three perfectly preserved humanoid bodies in crystal coffins, one of which looks like this** and naturally gets a lot more screen time than the other two.

Thirty days pass, blah blah blah, the Britmerican crew is dead, but the bodies, miraculously, survive and are brought to earth where, the Space Lady decides to pull a fast one on us and not be dead. She promptly sucks the “life force” (a-ha!) out of a nearby guard, despite the fact that he was sporting some pretty state of the art protective gear:

You see, Space Lady and her space friends (who end up exploded so the filmmakers didn’t have to go all Austin Powers trying to think of ways to keep their junk out of the camera’s view) are Space Vampires. And they have to feed on the life force of other beings to stay alive. Every two hours. Which, I’m thinking, would get pretty damned tiresome. If they don’t feed? They explode into a poof of dust. Really, it would kind of suck to be a Space Vampire. (Get it? It would “suck.” Heh.)

Oh, but I didn’t mention the fact that the victims of the Space Vampires turn into zombies. ZOMBIES! If you think this stuff is convoluted, wait until you get to the part where the Space Lady can partially transfer part of her life force to other people, a bit like the killer did in Fallen. How this works is never really explained, but it does give us the excitement of seeing Captain Picard — under the possession of Space Lady — declare her love for Colonel Tom Carlson, the only astronaut to survive the original Haley’s Comet mission, and someone who seems to have a special connection to the Space Vampires…

…because he is a Space Vampire! At least, I think that’s what they were trying to get in the end, as some sort of big twist that had very little impact. So little impact, actually, that I’m not even going to bother apologizing for spoiling it for you.

If it sounds like I’m bashing Lifeforce, it’s because, well, I sort of am. It’s a ridiculous mess that feels like 5 movies mashed together into one incoherent piece of cinema. But you’ve gotta give the folks behind this credit for having the ambition to not only roll with a concept as silly as Space Vampires (who, it turns out, visited earth eons ago and that’s where the vampire legend originated! ::slaps forehead::), but to add zombies into the mix as well. By the third act of, our antagonist is literally running through hoards of zombies trying to get to a naked Space Lady and save the world from the soul-sucking alien vampires. If that sentence were any stupider, I think my head might explode.

But it’s a fun movie, and it’s worth a watch if only to enjoy its ridiculousness. I only wish that the movie had the kind of self-knowing humor that O’Bannon’s Return of the Living Dead would show later on. As it is, Lifeforce takes itself a little too seriously considering its premise. But all of its shortcomings are forgiven simply due to the fact that Space Lady is indeed naked for the entire movie. So if you, like me, are a fan of aliens, vampires, zombies, and boobies, then by all means, watch Lifeforce. There’s bound to be something in it to entertain you.

A Note About The Poster: I’m not sure what’s going on in the poster that I’ve got pictured at the top of this article but I think it’s pretty safe to say that whoever designed it never even saw the movie or really even knew what it was about. I think they heard two words — “space” and “boobies” — and their mind shut off, and this is all they could come up with.

*Do the British even HAVE a space program? Oh, wait, this is a movie about space vampires. Believability not a big drawing point.

**Yep, this is NSFW. I could’ve warned you ahead of time, but I figured if you’re at work, you should probably be doing something more productive than reading my blog anyway. You got what you deserved.

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2 Comments

  1. Zombie vs. Shark. Best blog name… EVAR!

  2. Great review. I recall it was of much appreciation during my adolescent youth – and Mathilda May’s breasts…have they been bettetred in Hollywood since? lol A crazy, ideas-packed fun film that I need to watch again!


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