Horror Movie Review: Lifeforce (1985)

People love to attach the ‘so bad, it’s good’ tag to anything nowadays. Simply because they like something ironically. A terrible movie is a terrible movie even if you like it. Finding actual ‘so bad, it’s good’ movies is not as simple as you think. It’s a special kind of bad wrapped up in a film that tries hard and entertains all the way through regardless of its many, many flaws.

Lifeforce deserves the ‘so bad, it’s good’ tag because of how many commendable things it has going for it or it at least tries to do. We’re talking about a movie directed by the late Tobe Hooper. A movie written by the late Dan O’Bannon and based off the book ‘The Space Vampires’ by Colin Wilson. If all of that wasn’t enough to get you excited then how about a cast that includes; Peter Firth, Patrick Stewart and has Mathilda May walking around naked for most of its run-time?

…but what about the story I hear you say? All of the above doesn’t matter if the story isn’t entertaining I also hear you say? Well, hold on to your space asses, Lifeforce is out of this world.

It begins in space where the crew of the shuttle Churchhill discover a gargantuan spaceship hidden in the coma of Halley’s Comet. They explore it and find man-sized bat creatures dead inside as well as the bodies of 2 men and a woman (Mathilda May) inside glass containers. The trio are naked and in suspended animation so the Churchhill crew take them aboard their ship and head back to Earth.

While on route mission control loses contact with them so a rescue mission is dispatched. Once the rescuers arrive they discover the ship was almost destroyed by fire and all of the crew are dead. They find the three alien bodies still perfectly preserved so take them back to the European Space Research Centre in London.

Once there the bodies are removed from the cases. Autopsies are planned but before one can be carried out on the female, she wakes up. She then engages the guard in a bit of tonsil hockey before draining his life force leaving him a husk.

Seemingly recharged, she goes on a spree breaking out of the Centre and disappearing into the night. Anyone and everyone she comes across becomes a victim and her ability to be shape-shift makes her hard to find.

Is she just a lost alien on a planet she doesn’t understand? Or does she have more sinister plans for the Earth?

The answer is the number two. She is a space vampire along with her two male colleagues and their goal is drain all of earth’s people of their life force. Can they be stopped?

Lifeforce is so much fun. The amount of effort put into making this an enjoyable watch is very admirable even if the end result is mostly a terrible film. The story is not just nonsensical, it’s contrived and results in several times where characters need to directly explain events. These extend an already bloated run time and the editing jumps/shifts can make it feel even longer.

Almost all the actors try their hardest with difficult material. Dialogue is clunky and at times unbelievably unnatural.

“I’m a natural voyeur”

There’s no standout performance except for Mathilda May who stands out for ‘other’ reasons.

However, as we keep saying. Lifeforce is a blast to watch. It’s a film of its era and certainly shows that at times yet the effects and makeup still hold up really well. The scenes of London descending into zombie/space vampire chaos is fantastic and some of the imagination involved will wow.

It’s trashy and ends in embarrassing fashion too. However, you’ll certainly have a smile on your face afterwards.


  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!

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