Review: Lifeforce / Cert: 18 / Director: Tobe Hooper / Screenplay: Dan O'Bannon, Don Jakoby / Starring: Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart, Michael Gothard / Release Date: September 30th
One of Tobe Hooper's more popular films that isn't The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, this gem from 1985 gets us space vampires on the loose in London, with a 2001: A Space Odyssey meets Alien sort of vibe. Hooper's career post-Massacre has been a mixed bag, but Lifeforce is not one of his failures.
Investigating Halley's Comet, an unsuspecting space shuttle team manage to bring a race of space vampires back to Earth with them, whereupon they promptly turn most of London into bloodthirsty zombies. We're an easily conquered lot, especially when our aggressors happen to be wandering about in the buff. As the many dead men of Species will attest, it's hard to concentrate on not being viciously murdered when there's a very pretty lady coming at you without her top on. Nearly thirty years later, Lifeforce still feels remarkably fresh. As the vampires starve into plastic-looking husks (the special effects here are a little dated, but look great nevertheless) and explode like popped bags full of dust, it's inventive, intelligent fun. And then Patrick Stewart shows up to deliver the film’s best performance. Given that Lifeforce came slightly before The Next Generation and nowhere near X-Men, I had wondered whether we might see a different side to Sir Patrick, before typecasting began to take hold. No – Stewart plays a loud bald man who wears a trenchcoat. The very first thing he does is shout. But, oh, what shouting. It's Stewart at his possessed-by-an-alien, driven mad by space-flu Captain Picard best. It's a relatively minor role, but a great one.
Peter Firth does a great job as the lead, his wardrobe and the eighties British setting leaving the film feeling a little like an episode of The Professionals or The Sweeney. As the streets of London are taken by this extra-terrestrial zombie apocalypse, Hooper even manages to give the great George Romero a run for his money in terms of scale and destruction. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the greatest horror films of all time. With Lifeforce, he proves that he's more than a one trick pony.
The film is given the recognition it deserves with this release by Arrow Video, who provide – in addition to that stunning Blu-ray cover artwork – the usual comprehensive mix of interviews, documentaries and commentaries. Presented in High Definition 1080p, it's a must-see for fans and newcomers alike.