Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Patrick Stewart, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May, Michael Gothard
When Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce first hit theaters in 1985, some wag at the Village Voice (I think it was Michael Musto) termed it the year’s best film about intergalactic vampires. Well, it still is. In fact, I’d wager it’s the best movie ever made on the topic. Considered a travesty by fans of Colin Wilson’s novel Space Vampires on which it’s based, the film may be pretty silly — it’s certainly on the demented side — but it’s pretty darn entertaining. If you can accept the idea of some kind of organic seedpod spaceship cruising through space in Halley’s Comet, then you can probably buy the idea of naked vampires from said ship prowling the English countryside sucking the lifeforce out of any hapless human they encounter. From there, it ought to be a simple step to accept that their victims become vampire zombies — all in the service of collecting lifeforces and transferring them to the orbiting seedpod spaceship. The whole thing is really a kind of sexed-up (lead lady vampire Mathilda May spends the entire movie naked) rip-off of Quatermass and the Pit with extra gore and larger scale mayhem. The weirdest thing about it is that the film has the appearance of having been fairly expensively made and the cast is undeniably impressive — even though their combined performances make for a feast that wouldn’t be served at a kosher table. That may be part of the appeal — and really I’m not sure there was any other way to play this overheated nonsense. In any case, it fits the movie. I can’t honestly say it’s a good movie, but it’s certainly four stars worth of entertainment.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Lifeforce Thursday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
In Brief: A race of space vampires (who travel about in some kind of giant seedpod inside Halley’s Comet) end up making their way across England, sucking the lifeforce out of their victims — apparently to power their seedpod. As looney as it sounds, and something of a mess, despite Tobe Hooper’s best efforts and a cast that’s better than the material, Lifeforce nonetheless provides its fair share of downright peculiar entertainment.