A cult classic featuring naked space vampires.
Published: September 26, 2012
Directed by Tobe Hooper
At the Charles Theatre Sept. 26 at 9 p.m. as part of the Night Zones series
Three words for you: naked space vampires. A certain kind of movie nut can stop reading now and go ahead and queue up for tickets to this one-off screening of the 1985 sci-fi/horror cult classic Lifeforce. For the rest of you, there’s plenty more to discuss.
“Cult classic” is, of course, a term for an interesting movie that is not necessarily good or straightforward enough to win over people with something better to do, and certainly Lifeforce manages to bring together all kinds of not-good and weird. B-star Steve Railsback brings his usual twitchy, over-the-top, and lank, hollow-eyed creepiness to American astronaut Tom Carlsen, who stumbles across an alien ship that looks like a cross between a burnt bacon straw and a goth umbrella, and decides it’d be a good idea to bring back to Earth the three pretty, naked humanoids slumbering inside. One pretty, naked female humanoid (Mathilda May)—hair like ironed black silk, boobs the size of her head, starkers for almost every second of her screen time—goes on to suck the lifeforce (ha) out of anyone handy, creating a growing horde of energy-sucking vampire/zombie Londoners that a gaggle of B-list Brit actors (Peter Firth, Patrick Stewart, Frank Finlay) do their scenery-chewing best to sell as a serious threat to the planet.
It is the very stuff of straight-to-video trash, but it’s got good bones. In addition to stellar sci-fi scribe Dan O’Bannon (Dark Star, Alien) co-writing the script, effects pioneer John Dykstra (Star Wars) handled the visuals and Tobe “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” Hooper directed. Plus, schlock production shingle Golan-Globus spent some actual money ($25 million in 1985 dollars) on this naked space turkey. So in addition to the camp laughs and creaky old Hammer Film-esque horror tropes, there are desiccated living corpses galore, ravening vampire/zombie packs, full-on spaceship sets, and elaborate miniature spaceship maneuvers, swirling blue ectoplasms, exploding bodies, gravity-proof blood gushers, gory golems, and all manner of aggressive art direction (e.g. what one can only describe as a space cervix). You do have to watch Railsback repeatedly macking on/moaning over May, but this is a small price to pay for such glorious naked space cheese.
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