31 Days of Gore: Lifeforce (1985)

It’s October. Time to talk horror. This year I’m reviewing a different horror movie each day of the month.

What’s strange about Lifeforce is I enjoyed the movie, but have little desire to talk about it this month. Maybe it doesn’t belong in 31 Days of Gore despite the fact it certainly has some gory stuff in it and a ton of nudity. The thing is, none of that stuff is presented in an exploitative way. It may be even be the most tasteful, least gratuitous movie I’ve featured this month.

I know, I’m slipping. I’ll try to do better tomorrow.

Sexuality aside, Lifeforce has more in common with modern blockbusters than it does with the horror film the trailers seemed to advertise. Which is probably why it bombed: the people it was intended for didn’t know it was made for them and the people it was marketed to were probably expecting something a lot different from the guy who brought us Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It feels like a big budget alien invasion story with various shades of science fiction and horror.

This is serious stuff. And it’s effective, too. The acting is good. The special effects are great. The Blu-Ray edition was worth the wait—and I did wait because the Netflix copy I got about a year ago was in 4:3 ratio and the Scream Factory edition is going for around fifty bucks on eBay. If the plot made just a little bit more sense (or any at all) it might have been considered a classic by now. It’s just not very compelling when all the aliens want from us is mystical blue stuff that might as well be fairy dust.

A mission to Haley’s Comet discovers a gigantic derelict spaceship (150 miles long) hidden in the corona. Once inside, the astronauts are shocked to discover two men and a woman preserved in see-through capsules. After transferring their bodies to their own ship, the human aliens are brought back to Earth for experimentation. Just as they begin to dissect the female specimen, she wakes up and sucks a scientist’s life force right out of his body, leaving him a decayed shell of his former self. The beautiful woman escapes the facility in the nude, like that’s not the kind of APB every cop in the country would scramble after.

While the main characters are trying to track the woman down, the corpse of the man she drained unexpectedly comes back to life and steals the life force of another victim. The scientists later discover that people who’ve been drained in such a manner always come back—via awesome animatronic effects—and if they, too, don’t drain others of their life force they’ll explode. It’s essentially a zombie movie in which the infected don’t crave brains and flesh, but the spiritual mumbo jumbo of others. London is the center of this pandemic so it won’t be long until the military quarantines it and prepares to wipe it off the map with nuclear weapons. The aliens, however, have other plans for the inhabitants.

Like I said, it’s a serious film. It’s not even laughable in its attempts to be a serious film. Tobe Hooper has made something unique here, which makes it hurt all the more that he’s still making movies like Djinn, which looks goddamned terrible. Considering movies are rarely made for adults anymore (I guess that’s what TV’s for these days), it’s hard to imagine a time when movies with extroverted sexuality could get marketed to summer crowds. And if you ever wanted to see Patrick Stewart get possessed by an extremely feminine creature and subsequently make out with another man, here’s the movie for you.

Come back at midnight Central Time for the next movie.

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