Halloween Horror Diary #4: Lifeforce (1985)

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A sexy space vampire leaves her spaceship on Haley’s Comet to terrorize Earth and steal its…LIFE FORCE.

This movie is eight parts garbage, two parts good fun. Imagine a budding sci-fi nerd, let’s say middle school-aged, breathlessly dictating a movie script: “There’s a spaceship that’s like a hundred miles long, and the astronauts find this super hot naked vampire girl, like she’s so beautiful she drives them all INSANE! Then she goes to Earth and when she kisses dudes they turn into like shrunken corpses! Then it’s like armageddon and this big beam of LIFE FORCE shooting up like bleDOOOWWW!!!!”

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Imagine the kid passes the script to his pretentious older brother (a junior philosophy major) for an editing pass, and you can pretty much imagine Lifeforce. Watching this thing, you can’t believe it attracted respectable British actors like Patrick Stewart and Peter Firth. Or that it was scored by Henry Mancini (and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra), directed by Tobe Hooper (Poltergeist, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) or written by Dan O’Bannon (Alien).  Nobody remembers Lifeforce, and I understand why. The plotting is nonsensical, the acting frequently terrible, and its intellectual pretensions are laughable and indefensibly sexist.

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But I’ll probably remember a few things from Lifeforce. First is Sir Patrick Stewart playing a man possessed by the previously-mentioned sexy space vampire. And second is a handful of scenes depicting people who’ve had their LIFE FORCE drained by the same sexy vampire. These zombie-like beings are impressively depicted using full-body animatronic special effects – a reminder that 30 years later, practical effects can still be more lifelike than today’s CG imagery.

LIFE FORCE!

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