(Review originally written at 20 September 2006)

In what other movie do you get to see killer vampire/zombies and a naked girl from outer space causing total mayhem in London, by killing its citizens and blowing up every building? I just can't help loving this movie

Perhaps the reason why I love this movie is that when I saw this movie for the first time as a kid it really sticked to me for years, even though at the time I couldn't even read subtitles, so I had no idea what was going in on screen. Also every time I listened to the wonderful Henry Mancini overblown musical score, I though about this movie as a great one and did so with nostalgic feelings. So I knew I already loved this movie but on my recent second viewing I actually realized how much I loved it. The movie wasn't that much different as I had remembered and now that I finally fully understood what the story was about, I totally loved the movie. This is definitely one of my favorite movies but please note that favorite as not the same as best.

This movie is a rare case of a great movie without really being a great one. Of course "Lifeforce" is pulp. The acting is B-movie like, the movie is filled with implausibilities and continuity errors, and the character treatment isn't the best. But yet I love the movie for all of this. It make "Lifeforce" an extreme guilty pleasure to watch, that you never grow tired of watching. I'm not sure if the movie entirely was trying to be a serious one or merely an entertaining one. At moments I feel that the makers tried to create a realistic, haunting horror/science-fiction movie but at others it gets so ridicules that it's hard to imaging that they tried to make a fully serious movie. Either way, this movie remains an unique mix of horror and science-fiction elements that blend in extremely well, with as a result that this movie is an highly enjoyable and original one that deserves a better reputation.

This movie begins as a thriller with horror elements, sort of like the Alien movies. The movie is tense and mysterious for most part during the first halve of the movie, which is mainly thanks to Tobe Hooper, who knows how to handle the genre. In the second halve all gloves are of. The movie goes berserk and total chaos erupts, when the space vampire/zombies have completely taken over London. The movie gets fast paced and doesn't stop being so, till the satisfactory ending. As the movie progresses less and less things start to make sense and often all logic is abandoned. What really what else did you expect from an '80's science-fiction flick. If you watch this movie expecting a tense well constructed thriller about an alien invasion you shouldn't even think about watching this movie.

Still the build up of the movie is good. It makes all of the thriller and horror elements work out and provides the movie with some great and memorable moments. Especially the more horror themed elements of this movie are great. It shows that director Tobe Hooper can really handle this genre. It's a sort of a shame that he and his style has always been sort of stuck somewhere in the '70's. Also "Lifeforce" looks as if it was made in the early '70's. Also the way of storytelling and the character treatment (or the lack of it) is typically '70's like. That perhaps is also the reason why Hooper hasn't made any decent movie since this one and these days only works on B-horror movies nobody has ever heard of. He relies too much on elements, style and tricks from the '70's. A shame, since he has some impressive and well know genre movies after his name; "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "Poltergeist".

The movie as a whole might perhaps feel a bit campy, since its story is overdone and filled with some implausibilities, to put it mildly. Its style however is very good looking. For 1985 standards, this movie has some excellent and convincing looking special effects. Also the make-up effects are good for the vampire/zombies and the movie is filled with some gross looking stuff like you could expect from an horror movie. Also the movie has an overly present sense of eroticism. Vampire movies always have been sensual and filled with some subtle sense of eroticism. "Lifeforce" might perhaps not so subtle, since it features a main 'villain' who is a beautiful young girl (Mathilda May), who walks around naked in basically all of her sequences.

The fact that the movie has a naked space vampire as a main villain adds to the cult value of this movie, as do some multiple sequences, which mainly features the Mathilda May character but also the 'kiss' sequence between the Steve Railsback and Patrick Stewart is one of those moments. The movie is filled with some silly and overdone sequences which add to the overall feeling and atmosphere of the movie, which in return all add to the cult value of the movie. Also certainly the overblown and brilliant musical score by Henry Mancini, which is in contrast with the rest of the movie, adds to this.

It's probably due to my weird, unusual, wide taste of movie but I just love this movie and can't get enough of it, even though I admit that it's a far from brilliant one. But to me it's just a perfect movie, without being a real perfect one. A rare movie that's unique and entertaining in multiple ways.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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