Remembering 1985 science fiction movie Lifeforce

SPECIAL BREAKING NEWS UPDATE Saturday 9 August 2014: 

Menahem Golan, Producer of 1980s Action Movies, Dies at 85

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/menahem-golan-producer-1980s-action-724260

Menahem-Golan-Mack-the-Knife

R.I.P. Menahem Golan 31 May 1929 – 8 August 2014 

Lifeforce Movie Poster

LIFEFORCE - Wikipedia article.

1985 science fiction movie

Produced by Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan

Based on the novel The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson.

“From the Director of Poltergeist” Tobe Hooper.

“From the Writer of Alien” Dan O’Bannon.

Special effects by Academy Award winner John Dykstra, who did the special effects for Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and Star Trek the Motion Picture.

Music by Henry Mancini….

More theme music with Opening and Cliosing crddits…

Steve Railsback as Col. Tom Carlsen, commander of Space Shuttle Churchill…

1 Lifeforce Steve Railsback
Peter Firth as Col. Colin Caine
Frank Finlay as Dr. Hans Fallada
Mathilda May as the Female Vampire aka the the Space Girl
and Patrick Stewart [of Star Trek Next Generation] as Dr. Armstrong…

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Scream Factory announced they will be releasing Lifeforce on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack on 18 June 2013.

Lifeforce is not the best science fiction movie of all time, but it continues to be my favorite science fiction movie of all time. It is also classified as horror, and includes the genre of Vampire Literature.

Lifeforce includes people turned into zombies by the space vampires, so if you are a fan of The Walking Dead and zombies in general, as well as vampires, then you will like Lifeforce.

The following video is actually a kind of odd tribute to Dan O’Bannon [30 September 1946 to 17 December 2009], and is a fair review of the movie…

The space vampires do not take your blood. They take your lifeforce. They take your soul and use it for food for them, and maybe fuel for their starship.

I’ve never seen the movie in a theater. I didn’t even see the ad for when it was in movie theaters in 1985. It did not do well in the theaters. It went to extra-pay cable TV before it went to VCR, which was long before it went to DVD. It was briefly at Hulu.

It was late in 1986 when I first saw Lifeforce. A Sunday afternoon about 3:55pm, when I was bored, I looked in TV Guide for something to watch on TV. At first, found nothing. Then I noticed the listing for Lifeforce at 4:00pm, so I had about 5 minutes to think about it. I don’t now recall if it was Cinemax, or HBO, or Showtime, but it was on one of those. The description about vampires from outer space terrorizing London did not make it sound like a winner, so I almost didn’t watch it. Even so, I was so bored I decided to give it a look, to see if its beginning could win me over for the duration of the movie…

OH MY GOD!!! Instantly, I went to the edge of my chair, then moved the chair closer to the TV. No, this is not just a dumb vampire movie.

I wasn’t expecting a special effects beginning that rivaled the beginning of Star Wars with the massive starship. Space Shuttle Churchill, arriving at Halley’s Comet on a science mission, discovers a 150-mile long alien star ship hidden in the corona of the comet. The astronauts go aboard and at first find dead alien creatures resembling a horrifying combination of bats and gargoyles. Then they find three humanoids. Two males and one female. Apparently human. Nude.

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Full frontal nudity on the female vampire then and through most of the movie, so you will never see Lifeforce on network TV. So far as I know and remember, this is the only science fiction movie with full frontal nudity of an actress, that is serious quality drama rather than a goofy sex farce. It does give the story an additional element of realism, rather than hiding the nudity of the character.

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The female vampire is played by French actress Mathilda May. Lifeforce is her first movie. If you Google Search Videos for “Mathilda May Lifeforce nude” then you will find clips of those scenes in the movie at various video websites except of course YouTube.

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The three human-like aliens are in suspended animation inside large crystals.

Lifeforce alien ship

The astronauts take the hibernation chambers with the three aliens aboard the space shuttle, and then head back to Earth. By the time Churchill returns to Earth, all are dead except Carlsen, the life sucked out of them. Carlsen used an escape pod to get away. The pod lands in Texas. After he is rescued he is taken to London. Meantime, the Churchill is recovered by other astronauts in orbit of Earth. The aliens are taken to a special location to be examined. The two male vampires are apparently killed in a fight after becoming conscious, but their demon-like spirits possess a couple of humans. The alien star ship leaves Halley’s Comet and heads to Earth. Then the male vampires began to turn the population of London into zombies, and beam their souls up to the alien star ship. The female vampire has also escaped and does some body-hopping, including into the body of Dr. Armstrong played by Patrick Stewart.

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Carlsen survived because . . . the female vampire tells him . . . “The web of destiny carries your blood and soul back to the genesis of my lifeform. You’re one of us. You always have been. You’re like me. Be with me. Just a little more.”

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The implication is Carlsen has the soul or spirit of a space vampire, who was left behind on Earth during the previous visit of the alien starship the last time Halley’s Comet was close to Earth 75 years ago. Reincarnated into more than one human life until the return of the starship. Now, fully fueled and supplied with human souls, the starship head’s back toward Haley’s Comet, perhaps with Carlson as its old or new captain.

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Horror is what you feel when you see what the space vampires really look like in their natural form, rather than the forms they can assume as shape-shifters. Terror is what you feel when you realize one of them has seen you.

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Most movie critics didn’t like Lifeforce. They didn’t understand what the movie is about and said so. Exploding zombies, vampires that take souls instead of blood, and the nudity of the female vampire as a kind of honey trap for Carlsen. The nudity probably did more harm than good for the movie. Most people didn’t expect to see nudity, especially full frontal nudity, in a top quality science fiction horror movie made by some of the best people in the business. Imagine what the result would have been if Carrie Fisher had been completely nude through most of Star Wars.

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There are some major differences between The Space Vampires novel and the movie version Lifeforce. I didn’t like the novel and style of writing, but it was a brilliant idea by Colin Wilson. Dan O’Bannon and Don Jakoby did a much better job on the screenplay. I felt the same about the novel Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle, compared to the superior screenplay of the 1968 movie that was written by Michael Wilson, and Rod Serling who created The Twilight Zone. It was Rod Serling who gave the movie the famous Statue of Liberty ending, significantly different from the novel. I didn’t like the novel.

1 Space Vampires cover 2

I have yet to see the longer uncut version of Lifeforce, which will be on the new Blu-ray and DVD in June 2013.

Lifeforce Poster

More pictures of Mathilda May in Lifeforce - click on images to see full size.

Well, obviously she is an alien from another planet. You don’t really believe women who look like that come from Earth, do you?

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Mathilda May’s costume during the movie is . . . flawless.

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“Beware of pretty faces that you find… A pretty face can hide an evil mind!” – from lyrics of Secret Agent Man by Johnny Rivers.

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The female vampire from outer space takes your “lifeforce” instead of your blood!

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What happens when humans and female space alien vampires get a bit . . . to close to each other…

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Excerpted from Wikipedia:

A joint US-UK crew on board the nuclear-powered space shuttle Churchill is on a mission to investigate Halley’s Comet under the command of US Air Force Colonel Thomas Wolfe Carlsen (Railsback). They find a 150-mile long alien spaceship hidden in the comet’s corona, seemingly derelict. Upon entering the spacecraft, the crew finds hundreds of dead, shriveled bat-like creatures and three naked humanoid bodies (two male and one female) in suspended animation within glass containers. The crew recovers the three aliens and begins the return trip to Earth.

During the return journey, Mission Control loses contact with the shuttle and a rescue mission is launched to investigate. The rescuers discover that the Churchill has been severely damaged by fire, with its internal components (including video) destroyed, and the three containers bearing the aliens are all that remain intact. The aliens are taken to the European Space Research Centre in London where they are watched over by Dr. Leonard Bukovsky (Gothard) and Dr. Hans Fallada (Finlay). Prior to an autopsy, the female alien (May), referred to throughout the film as the Space Girl, awakens and fully drains the “life force” out of a guard, as well as some extra energy from the intervening Bukovsky. The Space Girl (nude throughout most of her appearance in the film) then escapes the research facility and proceeds to drain various other humans of their life force, revealing in the interim an ability to shape-shift.

It transpires that the aliens are in fact part of a race of space vampires that consume the life force of living beings, rather than their blood. To make matters worse, their victims, which are in a mummified state when completely drained, are temporarily revived as zombies that are also capable of draining others of their life forces, each victim needing a regular infusion of life energy every two hours lest they disintegrate or explode into clouds of ash.

Meanwhile, in Texas, an escape pod from the Churchill is found, with Carlsen inside. Carlsen is flown to London where he describes the course of events, culminating in the draining of the crew’s life force. Carlsen explains that he set fire to the shuttle with the intention of saving Earth from the same fate and escaped in the pod. However, when he is hypnotized, it becomes clear that Carlsen possesses a psychic link to the Space Girl. Carlsen and SAS Col. Colin Caine (Firth) trace the alien to a psychiatric hospital in Yorkshire. While in Yorkshire, the two believe they have managed to trap the alien within the heavily sedated body of the hospital’s manager, Dr Armstrong (Stewart); but Carlsen and Caine later learn that they were deceived, as the aliens had wanted to draw the pair out of London.

As Carlsen and Caine are transporting Dr Armstrong in a helicopter back to London, the Space Girl breaks free from her sedated host and disappears. When they reach London a “plague” has overtaken the city and martial law has been declared by NATO forces surrounding the city, with thermonuclear device being approved for use should the “plague” spread beyond the city boundaries. The two male vampires, previously thought destroyed, have escaped from confinement by shape-shifting into the soldiers guarding them; the pair then transform most of London’s population into zombies. After their life force has been drained by the male vampires, the victims seek out other humans in order to absorb their life force, perpetuating the cycle. The absorbed life forces are channeled by the male vampires to the female vampire, who transmits the accumulated energy to their spaceship in Earth’s orbit.

Fallada impales one of the male vampires with an ancient sword of “leaded iron”, which has to be driven through the energy center of each of the space vampires, located two inches below the heart. He tells Caine and Carlsen that these space vampires are possibly the origin of the vampires of Earth mythology. Carlsen confirms this, having learned from his psychic link that the aliens had visited Earth previously. Carlsen also confirms that the vampires have been involved in the destruction of other inhabited worlds, and that it was possible that they were subsisting on each other as a last resort until the Churchill discovered their ship. Carlsen also confesses to Caine that he felt compelled to open the female vampire’s container and share his life force with her. She is later found inside St Paul’s Cathedral, lying upon the altar. She reveals to Carlsen’s shock that they are “part of each other” due to the sharing of their life forces, thus their psychic bond.

Fallada, Bukovsky and the rest of the Centre’s team become victims of the “plague”. Caine follows Carlsen into St Paul’s Cathedral and is intercepted by the second male vampire, whom he dispatches using the leaded iron sword. Upon entering the sanctuary, Caine delivers the sword to Carlsen while Carlsen is physically entwined with the Space Girl on the altar. Carlsen impales himself and the female alien simultaneously. The two ascend the column of energy to the spaceship and join the revived vampire race, and the ship returns to its hiding place within the comet, leaving London ruined but surviving.

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One thought on “Remembering 1985 science fiction movie Lifeforce

  1. Reblogged this on Timeglass Entertainment and commented:

    Menahem Golan, Producer of 1980s Action Movies, Dies at 85 – R.I.P. Menahem Golan 31 May 1929 – 8 August 2014 + LIFEFORCE, 1985 science fiction movie, Produced by Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan

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