In a joint venture between Britain and America the space shuttle Churchill is on a mission to examine Halley’s Comet. The commander of the shuttle is Colonel Tom Carlsen (Steve Railsback). Inside the head of the comet the crew finds a spaceship. Inside the ship are hundreds of desiccated bat-like creatures. Also on board are three humanoids in suspended animation. Two are male and one is a female. The crew brings the three humans on board the Churchill along with one of the bat creatures. Before the Churchill reaches Earth communication from the shuttle ceases.
A rescue ship is sent to look for survivors. All they find are a burnt out ship and dead desiccated bodies. The three containers with the three humans are still intact. The humans are brought back to Earth to the European Space Research Center in London. Before an autopsy can be done on the woman (Mathilda May) she returns to life and sucks the energy from a guard. She then escapes the facility. The desiccated guard comes back to life and starts sucking the life force from someone else. Colonel Colin Caine (Peter Firth) and Dr. Hans Fallada (Frank Finlay) determine that the vampire creatures are on a two hour cycle. If they can’t suck someone’s lifeforce within that time they turn to dust. The two male vampires that had also been taken from the Churchill come alive and try to escape. They are blown up by the guards.
Word comes in that the escape pod from the Churchill landed in Texas. Inside is Colonel Carlsen. He is taken to London where he relates the story about the alien ship and the vampires that killed his crew. Carlsen has developed a mental bond with the female Space Girl. Her mission is to drain the lifeforce from everyone on Earth and send it to the alien spacecraft. When it is discovered that one of the male aliens did not die but took over the body of one of the guards, Carlsen and Cain realize that they have two space aliens running free. It also appears that the aliens can take over other people to avoid detection. Carlsen, Caine and Fallada know it’s only a matter of time before everyone is infected and their lifeforce stolen.
“Lifeforce” was released in 1985 and was directed by Tobe Hooper. It is based on a novel by Colin Wilson written in 1976 called “The Space Vampires”. It is a British science fiction/horror film. When it was first released the film didn’t do well but has since achieved cultdom.
Tobe Hooper's Director's Cut was two hours and eight minutes. The movie was then cut down to one hour and fifty-six minutes. The original unedited European version contains more violent and erotic footage. Tri-Star Pictures cut some of that for the domestic U.S. version. The original also contains the full Henry Mancini score.
Tobe Hooper considered over one thousand actresses for the part of the Space Girl. Hooper had problems trying to find an actress willing to basically walk around totally naked most the time. And when not walking around, she was having sex. Mathilda May was basically the only actress willing to do it. Being French and not able to speak English she had to learn her lines phonetically. Not that she had a large speaking role. May learned how to speak English during the six months she spent in England on the movie.
During the scene where she walks over broken glass from a bunch of windows May had rubber soles glued to the bottom of her feet so she didn’t cut herself. During the shot where she was walking up the stairs naked, shadows were added in post-production to cover her body and avoid having the film get an X-rating. There was lots of discussion concerning May’s pubic hair. Hooper wanted to shave it but found out that it made her look even more nude. Eventually they went with short and lightened so Make-up artist Sandra Exelby was on her knees every morning trimming and coloring to make sure it was perfect.
Sir Patrick Stewart’s first on-screen kiss is with Steve Railsback. Stewart doesn’t have a big role in the film, but it is memorable.
The alien vampire spaceship was supposedly modeled after an artichoke. Others contend it was supposed to look like a penis.
I fully understand why the film became a cult favorite. The movie was jam packed full of special effects and zombie style vampires so you sorta get a two fer. Plus lots of frontal nudity in the form of the beautiful Mathilda May. Not my thing but neither is seeing Steve Railsback in a lip lock with Sir Patrick Stewart. Although seeing Railsback naked was a definite plus. The desiccated vampire things were absolutely freaky, especially when they opened their eyes. Everything about it is absolutely wacko. Altogether it’s a wild ride of a movie going from outer space sci-fi to zombie mayhem through the streets of London. I liked it.