Lifeforce (1985) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Has it really been almost 20 years since this movie came out? 

It is a silly movie, but filled with little unexpected delights, not the least of which is plenty of full frontal and dorsal nudity from Mathilda May, the ultimate French babe, and possessor of one of the ten best chests in the history of filmed chests.

It also has:

  • Some excellent sci-fi effects by the master, John Dykstra (Star Wars). This was actually an expensive movie. It cost 25 million bucks. In addition to the outer space scenes, it portrays the burning of many London landmarks in miniatures and on sound stages.
  • A musical score written by Henry Mancini. Yup, the guy who wrote Moon River, The Days of Wine and Roses, and The Pink Panther. How did they persuade him to do this movie? And why did they want him?
  • Direction by Tobe Hooper, of "Poltergeist" fame. (And "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", if'n you like your horror gorier.)
  • Captain Picard, delivering a small, but truly over-the-top, performance

Of course, all of those elements are more or less wasted on one of the screwiest scripts ever written, making it a space, vampire, zombie, end-of-the-world, nudie, sci-fi, horror movie. (What, no songs?) It seems that there is an alien spaceship living in Halley's Comet, and it is investigated by earth astronauts. Inside the ship, our intrepid earthlings find some dried-up bodies, some creatures that look like bats, and Mathilda May naked. Oh, yeah, and a couple of naked guys as well. They leave the bats and the dry shit behind, but they bring Mathilda and her friends into the earth ship for, um ... closer examination. Oops. Not a good move.

Well, it turns out that Halley's Comet is the source of all vampires. The vamps live in their secret nest there, and visit earth every eight decades in order to suck up earth lives. They suck the life out of earthlings, who in turn become temporary vampires for a couple of hours, and suck the lives out of other earthlings, and so forth in geometric progression until the life is sucked out of London.

Hey, I think I was in London that summer.

Anyway, the vampires have this special system rigged up where they channel all the human life-forces from earth through Mathilda May in the form of violet light beams, and thence into space where everything is absorbed by their umbrella-shaped space ship. It seems the vamps are going for the whole enchilada this time, the entire life-energy of the planet. To combat this, NATO plans to drop nuclear bombs on London, but an American guy decides that plan is overkill, and that he can defeat the vampires single-handed by driving a stake through their hearts. 

Well, it isn't as dumb as it sounds. You see, he is the astronaut who was selected by the vampires to be their original earthling model. While they were studying him, they ended up exchanging life forces with him, so now he can "feel" their weaknesses, and "sense" their presence.

Never mind what I said before. It IS as dumb as it sounds. 

In fact, the movie tells us, one cannot kill a vampire by driving a wooden stake through its heart. Pure poppycock and folklore! A "thanatologist" tell us that the vampires must be killed by driving a lead stake two inches below the heart. Thanatology is apparently a very exact science. I guess it has to be, because if the thanatologist drives those stakes three inches below the heart, or uses a stake with insufficient lead content, that just makes 'em really mad. 

At the end of the movie, London was filled with zombie-like creatures stumbling around aimlessly while making the requisite "living dead" noises and gestures. And that was just the crew when the pubs closed! The action in the actual movie is even sillier.

Colin Wilson might not even recognize his novel "The Space Vampires" if he saw this movie.

Never mind that. This is arguably the single best movie in history to watch stoned, maybe even better than 2001: A Space Odyssey, because the Kubrick movie provides only the rich visuals, but no laughs. This one also has the look and the sound, and its bizarre, often self-contradictory plot is a laugh a minute. If you like to get together with a group of your friends and hoot at over-the-top movies, welcome to your dream date. Ya got yer silly premise. Ya got yer rhetorical acting. Ya got yer bad science. Ya got everything you need except an evil twin. Rent this and have a ball. 


DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen letterboxed, 2.35:1 (making it very small on most TV's). Good, not great transfer

  • no major features


Mathilda May is stark naked from every angle throughout most of the first 15 minutes of the movie, and comes back for some more exposure later on. 

She was only 19 when they started filming this movie, and she looks great. This is some of the best nudity in the history of mainstream films, and her breasts may be the best you'll ever see.

The Critics Vote

  • Leonard Maltin: 2/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.4 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics - or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+ if you watch it wasted, a state which makes it incredibly entertaining. It is the perfect movie to bring to "bad movie night," because it has very professional production values; beautiful, bizarre visuals; a strange, laughable script; and some over-the-top acting. It's the Citizen Kane of stoner movies. (It would be a D+ as a sci-fi or horror film, but a very slick D+.)

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