Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce

Today I watched Tobe hooper’s Lifeforce (1985)


Tobe Hooper is a horror movie icon, director of the legendary Texas Chainsaw Massacre as well as numerous other notable projects. Lifeforce seems to unfortunately be among the less well remembered of his films, like many films I have reviewed I think this one is due for a re-appraisal.

The plot kicks off when an advanced space shuttle is sent to observe Halley’s Comet. They discover an alien vessel drifting near the center of the comet and when they investigate they inadvertently release a plague of space vampires upon London. Why London? Probably because it is a British production, but it does seem odd to set much of the movie here. This movie is a real grab-bag of ideas from a variety of different types of horror flicks. There is the horror of alien life in space not unlike the film Alien (both Alien and Lifeforce were written by Dan O’Bannon.) Which also comes along with very oldschool science-horror the likes of Frankenstein or Quatermass. Then towards the end of the movie there are shades of zombie apocalypse and vampiric gothic horror. In terms of technical style there is a strong influence from German Expressionism and Itallian Giallo what with the off kilter cinematography and atmospheric colour-tinted lighting.

My only real problem with this film is that the acting is just all over the place. On the one hand you have Steve Railsback bouncing between lifeless and over the top performances from scene to scene. But on the other hand you have Peter Firth and Patrick Stewart delivering some really solid performances. It is a total mixed bag from the leads to the supporting stars but thankfully Peter Firth creates chemistry with everyone he is onscreen with.

This is some totally underrated spooky fun, its got a little bit of everything blended together into a very satisfying whole. I really enjoyed how the film elevated the threat from an alien predator to an existential apocalypse. Lifeforce is a tightly put together horror flick and is absolutely worth the time for any fans of the genre, pair with Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires for a wonderful space-vamp double feature.  4/5


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