Friday, October 08, 2010
31 Days of Halloween - Day 8 - Movie 1
In Lifeforce (1985) a team of scientists sent to study Halley's Comet discovers a gigantic derelict spacecraft hidden within it. Aboard the spacecraft they find a lot of dead bat creatures and three naked humans in suspended animation within crystal pods. The scientists, led by Steve Railsback, decide to take the trio back to earth with them. Just like the Demeter in Dracula, the science vessel arrives in earth orbit with its crew dead and the three naked humans still in suspended animation. When brought to earth, the specimens come to life, draining the lifeforce from anyone they come into contact with, converting their victims into creatures like themselves who must feed every two hours or perish. When the female space vampire (Mathilda May) escapes into London, she causes an epidemic of vampirism. The only people who can stop it are an S.A.S. agent (Peter Firth) and Steve Railsback, who survived in an escape pod which made its way back to earth.
Lifeforce plays out like a Dr. Who storyline only truncated and missing the charm of the Doctor. It's entertaining, but could have been improved with a bit more room to breathe and develop some of its ideas. The space vampires themselves, particularly Mathilda May who is set up as the central character in this story, were also far too absent from much of the movie. The movie benefits from a good cast. Railsback's character lapses into moments of being emotionally high strung, which serves Railsback's strengths as an actor perfectly. Firth makes a good no-nonsense special agent. Even so, none of the characters are particularly warm making it tough to feel empathy towards any of them, or to root for them. This dilutes any suspense that this movie needs to elevate it from merely an entertaining popcorn movie to something more lasting. The special effects were decent for their time, with the practical effects of the mummified victims holding up far better than the outer space sequences. The screenplay was written by Dan O'Bannon (Alien) & Don Jakoby adapting Colin Wilson's novel The Space Vampires. It was directed by Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre).