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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Movies  |  Bad Movies  |  Lifeforce (1985) - Spoilers, of course. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Lifeforce (1985) - Spoilers, of course.  (Read 1081 times)
Neville
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« on: May 31, 2005, 09:39:04 AM »

Making a break from a trend of italian horror flicks (still have to see "Planet of the Vampires" this week), last weekend I watched this sci-fi film by Tobe Hooper.

"Lifeforce" also comes from the almighty Cannon Group (actually, it was one of the films that ruined the studio) and writer Dan O'Bannon, of "Alien" and "Dead and buried" fame.

The film starts with a british space mission launched to explore the Halley comet making an unplanned stop at an alien vessel. In it they find a number of bizarre creatures plus several humanoids preserved in plastic coffins. Confused? Then you've seen nothing. Before you realize, the crew is dead, one of the humanoids is at large on Earth spreading a disease similar to vampirism and several british Quatermass wannabes try to solve the whole mistery before it's too late.

Watching the film, I understood quite quickly why it has became a cult classic. The script offers an intriguing variation on vampirism, plus a lot of fascinating ideas, but the whole is so vague and confusing that viewers might easily become either bored or overwhelmed. Not only that, for a multi-million sci-fi blockbuster the movie is damn strange. To the constant plot twists, gaps in logic and new ideas constantly appearing on screen (some are just forgotten as fast as they appear), you can add an alien humanoid (Mathilda May) that happily spends most of her screen time completely naked, or an amazing set of climatic scenes where most of london has become infected.

And Hooper? Well, he does what he cans. Probably amazed with the many possibilities of the script (and quite unaware of how confusingly they are expressed), he seems to be always in a second term, a bit overwhelmed himself. Not that he does a bad job, however. He has to surrend to the weakneses of the script (bad dialogue is a main offender here, plus a weakly structured plot), and a quite forgetable cast, but he moves things at a great pace, and although he often fails to create the adequate atmosphere, his briliant set-pieces are one of the best things the film has to offer. Take, for instance, the exploration of the alien ship at the beginning, or the amazing series of attacks and resurrections in the british labs, as the scientist try to understand what is going on, or the absolutely apocaliptic vision of London under the influence of the plague.

And if you think that's not enough, well, you can always amuse yourself by the occasional cheese. Like seing Patrick Stewart being called a "b***h" by the main character seconds before locking lips together (yep, there is  a reason for that). Or watching Steve Railsback waking up screaming, then pause for breathing, and resume screaming again. Now, that's a nightmare.

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onionhead
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« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2005, 09:55:32 AM »

Where is Steve Railsback these days, anyway?  Not a bad flick, I remember seeing it on its first go-round in the theatres.  I could replay Mathilda May all day long were it not fot the wife.  And The Kiss, yes, is a classic.
I picked up Planet of the Vampires a few months back.  Great moody piece--although from what I hear Dan O'Bannon never saw the film prior to writing Alien, you can see various influences throughout.

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Neville
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« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2005, 10:36:56 AM »

Steve Railsback played supporting roles during most of the 80s and 90s. Seing how green he looks in this one, I can't criticise directors for relegating him to these roles. In the recent years, however, he earned very good reviews with his portrayal of Ed Gein in the film of the same name by Chuck Parello. It doesn't seem to have made much for his career, though, as I've never heard of him after that.

Re-watch Lifeforce if you can, onionhead. Despite its flaws it makes quite an interesting film, and its raw FX and sense of horror work surprisingly well after all these years. Actually, I found the film quite refreshing. These days, they would have made the whole thing in tasteless CGI, and certainly we wouldn't have that much of vampire-beauty-from-another-world-walking-around-naked thing.

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Yaddo 42
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« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2005, 11:10:25 AM »

Railsback has mostly made a career of playing odd and edgy characters, even when he's the hero (like in the classic "The Stunt Man") he's cast because the story often needs him to be damaged, unstable or possibly insane. The look in his eyes and the waivering, hesitant tone of his voice make him a natural for those kinds of roles. Remember he first came to most people's attention as Charles Manson in the 70s miniseries "Helter Skelter".More recently other than films like "Ed Gein", he has supporting roles in flicks like "Alligator II: the Mutation" and "BarbWire" usually as a villain. He also played an obsessed (and maybe unhinged) military officer in the short lived Fox sci fi series "The Visitor".

I remember when "Lifeforce" was a constant cable and late night syndicated local TV staple (cut to pieces obviously). While it has a following, I was always surprised it didn't catch on more since it aired so often.
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trekgeezer
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« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2005, 01:06:15 PM »

Railsback just appeared as serial rapist-murderer  in prison in the season finale of  USA's Kojack remake that stars Ving Rhames.  He has always played quirky characters, remember him as the truck driver in Armed and Dangerous with John Candy and Eugene Levy? The obsessed Army Colonel  whose brother was abducted by aliens on The Visitor (a short lived Fox show starring John Corbet).

Lifeforce is a different take on Vampires and is a little out there. Patrick Stewart even makes an appearance.

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And you thought Trek isn't cool.
Cheecky-Monkey
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« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2005, 01:38:18 PM »

I just saw this a few days ago.
I don't know. It didn't really do much for me. The concept was pretty interesting, the actors were all fine, the pacing was fast--but somehow it felt underwhelming in the end.


And I respectfully disagree with Neville's view of the effects in the film--I thought most if not all the effects were really bad. Hey, I hate CG as much as the next guy, but a bad effect is still a bad effect.
Those re-animated corpses looked so awful...
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Mr Hockstatter
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« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2005, 07:19:11 PM »

I haven't seen that film in years, but I remember I really liked it.  Good serious horror movie.  The only thing I didn't care for much was the ending, it seemed a bit too over the top compared to the rest of the movie.  Just didn't fit well.  But still worth a watch.

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Scott
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« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2005, 07:55:12 PM »

Yes, LIFEFORCE is a good film. I remember being a bit surprise when watching in on video about 15 years ago as I had never heard of it and was just looking for a horror film to watch with my wife one night.

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Archivist
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« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2005, 07:56:37 PM »

I LOVE this movie.  I saw it for the first time in 1992 or so, when I hired it on a whim from the video store and was rewarded by this blaze of awesomeness.  I bought the laserdisc as soon as I could thereafter, and this reminds me that I ought to get the DVD to round out the collection.

It is based on a novel by the prolific scifi/crime/philosophy author-novelist Colin Wilson.  The original novel is called 'The Space Vampires' and contains much more emphasis on the philosophical and mental nature of human performance.  I've been a big fan of Wilson's for years and was very pleased to see a blockbuster created from one of his books.  The vampires in Wilson's book do in fact feed on human energy, but in this case they are not physical vampires but more like noncorporeal spirits that inhabit human hosts.

The movie ditches a lot of the philosophical rumination and sexes it up with Mathilda May walking around naked for most of the film.  Ahh, happy days...   Railsback is great as a sweaty, nervous astronaut traumatised by his initial encounter with the aliens.

Funny, isn't it, how Railsback seems to be cast in these alien-related roles, like in The Visitor and the X-Files (Duane Barry?).

The special effects are a lot of fun and yep, Patric Stewart gets it on the lips in one of the most weirdly excruciating scenes I've seen.

I remember seeing the promo posters styrofoam models when it came out of VHS back in the 80's.  I seem to recall the three crystal 'coffins' zipping through space, containing naked people.

Loads of fun, special effects galore, a very 'solid' feel and the wonderfully nubile Mathilda May.  Who could ask for more?


~Archivist~
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« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2005, 10:29:07 PM »

I forgot to mention that the soundtrack is just fantastic.  Big, sweeping orchestral pieces by Henry Mancini.  I recorded a good deal of the soundtrack to mindisc via an optical cable, I liked it so much.

~Archivist~
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Neville
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« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2005, 11:09:20 AM »

LOL. I absolutely hate the main fanfare (the one that sounds at the beginning and end, plus at some other moments). It seems completely out of place. The rest of the soundtrack, however, is nothing hort of great. Never though I'd read Mancini's name on  a Cannon production before I saw this one.

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Alan Smithee
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« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2005, 12:08:10 AM »

Hahaha. Just checked this movie out at the local library.

The effects are a tad dated (obviously). What can I say, CGI has spoiled me.

The acting was pretty lousy.

The talent mostly wasted.

This Mathilda May character just walks around nekkid with a blank face.

Characters act in a 'gee whiz' kind of way when dealing with the aliens.

The only thing I admire about it is that it's fast paced.

But the movie is not nearly as bad as some of the other 80's alien horror movies.
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