"Lifeforce (1985/Blu-ray&DVD Combo/Shout! Factory)" Review

Review: Of all of the films that I have seen in the past year I definitely can say that Lifeforce is one of the
most odd films. When I say odd I don't mean that in a bad way. I guess I was surprised by what I got instead of what I thought the film was about by the title I had seen so many times. Yes this is one of those films I have come across so many times and overlooked it because it looked like just another generic sci-f film from the 80's. After viewing it I can say that I was wrong about it for so many years. Let's get this autopsy going!

Tobe Hooper is most well known for 2 films by the general movie goer and those are his groundbreaking "Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)" and "Poltergeist (1982)" of course he has done many other good films as well. Alot of his films are hit and miss, but when he does a good film he really does one that sticks with you. What he did with Lifeforce is bring something that would of been made in the 50's and 60's sci-fi and horror genre to the 80's and amps it up with amazing visual effects, gore, and very beautiful nude alien. It was a good thing that he did this film while he was with Canon because he was able to make the film he wanted to and had more free reign over what happens in the film. Trust me film companies like Warner Bros. and others would of never had the guts to do a film like this and if they did it would of been extremely watered down.
Lifeforce follows a group of astronauts who find a very bizarre looking ship and end up entering it and finding morbid looking bat creatures and three naked beings in these preservation cells. They decide to take one of the creatures and the three beings back with them, but things go horribly wrong and all but one of the astronauts are killed and drained of their energy. The human like beings then are brought to earth and after breaking free the female being escapes and begins to drain the lifeforce from everyone she encounters. It is up to the surviving astronaut Tom Carlsen (Steve Railsback) and his associate Colin Caine (Peter Firth) to stop the alien vampires before they drain earth of it's lifeforce. To myself that plot screams 50's and 60's sci-fi/horror which is awesome because while being a film that feels like a throwback to the drive-in culture of that time it is made with a good budget and for it's time modern special effects. Trust me when I say that it's not good to just look at the sysnopsis I gave and just look past it as just another campy film because really it's not. I found it to be quite solid and very well done.
One of the writers of the screenplay was Dan O'Bannon who also did a fantastic job on directing "Return of the Living Dead" as well as writing screenplays for "Dark Star", "Alien", "Total Recall" and "Invaders From Mars" to name a few. Needless to say Tobe Hooper had an amazing writer on hand doing the screenplay. The other element that I think helped to make this film as good as it is was the cast involved. First and foremost you have the very talented Steve Railsback (The Stunt Man/Ed Gein) along with Colin Firth (Equus), Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation), and the beautiful Mathilda May who plays the female alien vampire and has very few lines but captures the scene by her beauty. The cast was very well selected and really there is not one actor I would of swapped out for another.
Like I had mentioned before that this film has some amazing visual effects and I even think they hold up well today. The only effects that are campy by nowadays standards would be the look of the drained people who look very much like pruned up zombie. I actually love the way they look and would take this films visual effects over CGI that is done in the biggest films made today. There is also the bat looking creatures that they show from time to time that are quite frightening and remind me of the gargoyle woman in one of the stories from the film "Tales From The Darkside". Getting back to the way the drained people look they look very much like the ripped in half zombie woman from "Return of the Living Dead". Overall the visual effects are simply awesome.
The presentation of this film on this blu-ray release is quite stunning and well done. The colors are bold and the black levels are deep. Also the film grain is still intact which makes the cinephile in me very happy to see. You can pick between DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 which both are very clear and sound perfect. Along with the excellent video and audio you get some great special features that includes a commentary with Tobe Hooper, a retrospective with cast and crew, vintage "making of" featurette, trailers, tv spot, and still gallery! Overall this is an excellent release of a great sci-fi horror film!

-Daniel "Damnation" Lee

Director: Tobe Hooper
Genre: Sci-fi/Horror
Blu-ray Release Year: 2013
Theatrical Release Year: 1985
Time Length: 116 mins. (Director's Cut)/ 101 mins. (Theatrical Cut)
Company: Scream Factory (Shout! Factory)