Let me preface this review by stating that this movie, Lifeforce, scared the total and utter living shit out of me when I first saw it in 1986 or '87. I was but a child of 11 or 12 at the time when I came across this flick on TV (heavily edited, but still freaky-deaky). But its viewing affected me deeply, and I remembered it vividly my whole life. In fact, even though I only saw it once way back when, I thought I could recall every story beat and even quite a bit of dialogue of this movie some 30 years later.
So with these youngster memories in my brain, I decided to finally sit down and rewatch Lifeforce with a new perspective (that of a quasi-adult) and see if it holds up to my recollections of terror and disgust that I had when I first witnessed it.
I will start off by saying no, it does not hold up. Not at all. Not even the slightest bit.
I laughed at this supposed-to-be sci-fi horror movie the whole way through this second viewing. Oh, don't get me wrong, the special effects are all decent enough (they falter a bit, but they're on par with most of the other stuff that came out at around the same time), and the musical score is actually pretty damn impressive, but the whole thing is just so goddamn silly, and so much of the plot makes absolutely zero sense. But whatever... Let me talk about the plot first.
So things start off in 1986 when Haley's Comet comes back around again to complete it's 75-year journey around the sun. A space shuttle mission (on board the nuclear-powered "Space Shuttle Churchill," crewed by mostly British astronauts [would that be astrounauts?]) is taking place wherein the crew is being sent to check out the comet for reasons that they never clearly state. Oh, and this is no ordinary British/American space shuttle, oh no. The Churchill is apparently the size of the Chrysler Building, what with the enormous solar panels that it can fold up and store in its hold, along with how much room there is inside its living quarters that we can see. Oh, and it has artificial gravity because science (and a special effects budget that doesn't include too much zero-G screen time). But I digress.
Anyway, so these astronauts fly to the comet and find a 150 mile-long spaceship trapped — or hitching a ride — in the comet's corona, and so they decide to check it out. Being brave space explorers they enter the enormous half-organic ship and find a shit-ton of dead, man-sized, space bats just floating around (ominous), along with three sexy, naked, human-looking beings (jackpot!) who all appear to be in suspended animation in some weird crystal-like cocoons. Being the horny scientists that they are (who haven't seen naked perfect specimens of beauty like the magnificent Mathilda May in over 6-months), they take the nude people cocoons with them when they head back to the Churchill and then quickly return to Earth (even though they've spent a full half a year just to get to the comet and did jack shit once they got there). If you've ever seen a horror movie before you know that they just signed their death warrants.
A month later the shuttle arrives back at Earth (I chalked up the shuttle's return trip only taking 1/6th the time it took to get to the comet to science and stuff I couldn't understand, as opposed to bad scripting that was never corrected) running completely silent, with only the autopilot locking it into a safe orbit around the planet. The US sends up another shuttle whose crew finds that the inside of the Churchill has been gutted by fire, with all the crew's bodies looking like dried-up and charred mummies, and only the 3 crystal cocooned space humanoids left unscathed, still in hibernation. Oh, and they apparently can't count or simply don't care that the escape pod has been launched (escape pod? What the?), and there's an astronaut body missing. But who cares! Hot naked space people in crystal cocoons!
So the brilliant Earth scientists take the cocoon people back to the European Space Research Centre (located in one scene in central London, surrounded by London's memorable architecture, and in another scene surrounded by a giant field with huge trees, and no buildings in sight) where the nekkid female alien (whom I will refer to as Mathilda, or Ms. May from now on) comes back to life, and sucks the "essence of being" out of the poor schmuck ordered to watch her comatose body, turning him into a creepy-as-fuck-looking shriveled-up mummy of a man, dead for all intents and purposes. Then she shares a kiss with a researcher whom we think will be important to the plot from now on, only to find that he and his connection to Mathilda is quickly ignored for the sake of bringing back the main astronaut who originally found the space girl on her spaceship, one Col. Whatshisface (I don't remember anyone's name in this thing, and barely care enough to even recall their roles).
Mathilda then just walks out of the research centre (still lusciously nekkid), and the scientists then start an autopsy on the drained schmuck, only to find that exactly 2 hours after he was "killed" he pops back to life and then violently drinks the lifeforce out of one of the doctors working on him, restoring the goober to his full, fleshy form. The scientists and military men who witnessed this quite disturbing act of soul-sucking come to the conclusion that they're dealing with *Dun dun DUUUUUUUN* space vampires (who probably came to Earth in a previous era, on the tail of Haley's Comet, which led to our world's vampiric folklore), and that they're going to set in motion a pandemic of human vampires if we don't get a move on!
Let me take a pause here and explain how this vampirism works (at least in the early part of this film). So a space vampire, like sexy Mathilda, will drain the lifeforce out of a human victim. That victim will dry up into a corpse-husk for two hours, but then wake up and need to feed itself, and spread on the vampire virus, but it only has a window of 30 SECONDS to do so. If it doesn't feed within that time frame it crumbles away into dust. That's it, 30 seconds. We see it happen 3 times so that we're SURE of this timed event. How the FUCK could this thing spread beyond 3 or 4 people with that small window of activity, especially when the mummy-corpses are so fucking insanely disturbingly creepy (to the point where who the hell would want to go near them)? But back to the synopsis.
It turns out that Col. Whatshisface (who set fire to the Churchill in the hopes of escaping Ms. May's influence [she of course made him her bitch aboard the shuttle on its 1 month return voyage], and then took the escape pod and landed in Texas) has a telepathic link to the space vampire because reasons, and so he is called back into action. Along with some British colonel in the SAS, he starts to hunt down our poor Mathilda across the English countryside.
They track Mathilda to some hot redhead who works as a nurse in an insane asylum. Col. Whatshisface (who can ESP into the nurse's mind a bit due to her connection to Ms. May) then starts to beat the girl up with one of the fucking funniest lines ever spoken aloud in a movie in order to explain why a grown astronaut would ever put the smack-down on a petite redheaded English woman. He needs to gather information from her about the vampire's next victim or current location, and he says to Col. SAS (while shaking the girl like a British nanny), and I quote, "She's resisting. I'm going to have to force her to tell me. Despite appearances, this woman is a masochist. An extreme masochist. She wants me to force the name out of her. She wants me to hurt her. I can see the images in her mind. You want to stay? Otherwise wait outside!" To which Col. SAS replies, "Not at all. I'm a natural voyeur." Then he nonchalantly settles into a comfy chair to watch the beating.
I had to rewind that scene several times, first of all because I was laughing too hard and missed some of the dialogue, and secondly because I wasn't sure I heard it all correctly. But yes, that exchange — as well as the ripping off of the nurse's dress and slapping her around — did in fact happen. The nurse (who was in fact magically possessed by Mathilda somehow — which again is never explained, but at this point fuck it) remembers the face of an inmate at the asylum. So then the colonels meet up with the head of the asylum, played by Sir Patrick Stewart (in a role he'd rather block from the IMDB, I'm sure), and it turns out that Ms. May is inside him and NOT the psychotic inmate they were told about, in a twist that surprises absolutely no one! Oh noes!... Wait, this is no big deal since the two colonels restrain Sir Patrick quite easily, and then load him onto a helicopter which flies them back to the European Space Research Centre.
But, "oh noes" for reals this time when en route our heroes find out that London has been turned into the 7th Level of Hell since they were gone (8 hours earlier), seeing as one of the remaining space aliens has escaped captivity and apparently turned the entire city into his vampiric legion! Then Sir Patrick Stewart wakes up from the Mickey they slipped him, he kisses Col. Whatshisface full on the lips, and then he pukes out blood all over the inside of the chopper, which then coalesces back into the sexy body of Mathilda again (Yay! The best part of the movie is back!). Then Mathilda jumps out of the helicopter and joins her space vampire buddy in the city below.
The two colonels then find themselves in an army-controlled quarantine base that has already contained the entire city of London (in less than half a day! Good job, British forces!), but they easily escape in order to head back into the city and end shit once and for all.
Let me jump off on one more tandem here... So we know about the 2-hour incubation time that human vampires require, and that if they don't feed within 30 seconds of waking up as slow-as-fuck zombie vampires they turn to dust and literally explode into a cloud of ash... But when the two colonels run back into the madness of central London at this point in the flick, they're SURROUNDED by face-melting, ravenous, pissed off, blood-soaked, human vampires who are chasing down new victims like Usain Bolt! This completely counters everything we've learned (and have had FORCED into our brains by the scientists in the first act) about how this vampire virus works. Not to mention the unanswered question of just HOW several million people were transformed into vampires within half a day. But once again, I digress.
Col. Whatshisface is called to Mathilda, who is laying in the basement crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral while sending up all the souls of the damned (in the form of a blue light reminiscent of the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders) to her waiting spaceship, which has left the comet and now hovers above London in a geosynchronous orbit.
During this time, Col. SAS finds out from one of the Space Centre scientists that they can kill the main space vampires with iron swords plunged into their stomachs (LOL, whut the fuck?), and so he takes the scientist's sword (which the badass scientist had used to kill the final space vampire) and busts ass across London to the cathedral (in like 3 minutes, which I counted since we watch Col. Whatshisface meeting up with Mathilda in the cathedral, playing out during the same time period). There Col. SAS dusts the second-to-last space vampire (very easily I might add), and then throws the sword to Col. Whatshisface while Whatshisface is fucking Mathilda in the middle of the blue soul lights, and Whatshisface shoves the sword straight through Ms. May and himself while he orgasms or someshit.
Mathilda doesn't die though (Why? BECAUSE!), and she and Col. Whatshisface then get transported up to the waiting spaceship where it looks like all the dead bat creatures from the beginning get revitalized, and then the spaceship goes back to Haley's Comet. The end.
I have no fucking clue what to make of this movie other than the fact that everybody working on it was either high or retarded. It was directed by the guy who directed the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and co-directed Poltergeist, but it is a pretty far cry from those two classic horror films.
NOTHING in Lifeforce makes any kind of sense, even in the loosest movie storytelling sense possible. Rules set up very specifically in the first half of the movie are completely ignored in the second half for no reason that I could fathom. For example, the 2-hour vampire rule. Why make it 2 whole hours to transform a person into a soul-sucking vampire who can barely move and who blows up into a dust pinata if somebody sneezes at him after he's resurrected for 30 seconds IF the entire finale requires fast-moving, bloody (and not dried-out), and violent vampires? Why not just make them violent and fast and bloody from the beginning? It's called "continuity," people.
Also, the main characters in this thing do the dumbest things ever just to move the plot forward, despite being high-ranking soldiers and scientists. I'm not talking about when people are put under the space vampires' gazes and do the creatures' biddings; that's understandable. But how they react to things, and how they make plans.... It's just so brain-scratchingly dumb. There's one scene in particular, where Mathilda just attacks and tosses security guards around as she slowly (sooooo slowly) walks out of the Space Centre complex (still naked as a jay bird), and the remaining guards and scientists just watch her walk off into the night. Nobody tries to shoot her in the back of the head or anything. She's RIGHT THERE! It takes her several minutes to get enveloped in the darkness, and even then, she's walking in a straight line! Follow her from a distance, throw a grenade. That at least would have killed her for a while and given those people who know what's going on time to combat it!
The space vampires depicted in this 20th Century movie appear to have at least been partially based on the Twiliticus Douchnozzleez from star cluster M13. The "Twi-Douches," as we refer to them, are all good looking humanoid creatures who put the most beautiful Terran supermodels to shame. At least the female Twi-Douches are that awe-inspiringly gorgeous. The males are all handsome themselves, but they all appear to look like, what's the phrase from your time period?.... Ah, yes, they all appear to look like Jersey Shore faggots.
All the males have orange-colored skin, puffed-out lips as if they're trying to imitate a water fowl's bill, spiky black hair, and a physique that looks like they do a lot of bench presses and curls, but no lower body workout at all. Whereas watching a sultry female Twi-Douche pick up a guy in order to suck his soul out of his mouth (and other orifices) would make a blind nun blush and possibly orgasm herself, witnessing an orange Jersey Shore faggot attempt to work his mojo on a woman just makes everybody burst out laughing. Especially how the males start off each of their attempted conquests with a "Heeeeey... How YOU doin'?" I don't know how this species has not gone extinct yet. The females are all completely out of the leagues of every last male.
Blah!..... Holy fucking sheet... That Mathilda May played an amazeballs vampire! She was so good in her role that I went looking for her now in order to turn her into an immortal beauty of the night.
Then I found her... I must admit that she had not quite aged as gracefully in the intervening 30 years as one horny old vampire would have hoped. Those famously perky titties? A midget at navel-height could now suckle on them without resorting to a step stool. And her perfectly smooth, and pristine face? Lined more heavily than Keith Richard's mirrored coffee table. Oh, Mathilda May, how I wish I would have found you 30 years ago. We could have ruled the world... Instead I will probably only use my hypnosis to bang your halfway hot daughter and maybe drink a pint or two of her blood before flying away into the night.