Occasionally silly, but still unique and very entertaining, director Tobe Hooper’s “Life Force” is a great contrast to his penultimate “Texas Chainsaw Massare” which relied on muted colors and grimey shades of brown and black to depict his world of vicious violence. “Life Force” is a vibrant and brilliantly filmed horror science fiction film filled with bold shades of bright blues and reds, with a premise that’s all too entertaining to ignore. Hooper doesn’t just create a vampire or alien film, but collides them to form a demented amalgam of a horror classic.
When the crew of the space shuttle Churchhill find a hidden crevice in Halley’s comet, they stumble on to an entire vessel of bat-like creatures, all shriveled husks of their former bodies. There they find three humanoid bodies in containment units that have remained shockingly preserved. On the way back to Earth, the Churchhill crashes with only the humanoids perfectly preserved and the government brings back the humanoids to experiment on them. Little do they know the humanoids, including one very beautiful woman (the gorgeous Mathilda May) have devious plans for humanity, and the female humanoid is a vampiric alien with the ability to hypnotize her victims and suck their life force from their bodies.
Astonished and horrified, the government tries to contain the female humanoid with no avail, and discover that her draining of life force leads to a cycle that’s almost unstoppable. Those drained get up to drain and continue the circle leading its hosts to become relentless monsters. Steve Railsback is very good as Carlsen, a surviving member of the Churchhill who finds himself mysteriously drawn to the space woman, who begins acting as a beacon to feed their home ship. Hooper slowly elevates the level of horror and astonishment within every beat of the film, beginning on an uneasy note with the release of the space vampires, and then completely diving in to a horrifying zombie apocalypse by the finale. Stars Railsback and Firth provide some wonderful performances, while Tobe Hooper offers audiences excellent and haunting horror imagery that are nothing short of brilliant.
If the zombified husks of the vampires victims aren’t ghoulish enough, there’s the gorgeous portal of souls, the zombie hordes rushing in at all corners as character Caine tries to find the male vampire, and the mind blowing scene on the helicopter where the vampire woman forms out of the blood and guts of her victims to see character Carlsen. “Life Force” only uses violence and gore sparsely and when it counts. When Hooper paints the screen red it’s often to a startling effect, while providing various twists and turns to the development of the alien trio and their plans to devour Earth. Terrifying, entertaining, and demonstrating pure lunacy consistently, “Lifeforce” is still a masterful genre mixture with superb direction, and a premise that really helps pave this gem in to immortality.
Scream! Factory supplies fans of the Tobe Hooper horror film the Theatrical release of “Life Force” which was released in the states. “Dangerous Beauty with Mathilda May” is a fifteen minute interview with the gorgeous Ms. May who recalls her work on the film, and her regrets going nude in the film. “Space Vampires in London with Tobe Hooper” is a nine minute interview with director Hooper who explains various elements of the film, and why he didn’t name the film after the novel’s original title. “Carlsen’s Curse with Steve Railsback” is a seven minute interview with Steve Railsback who looks back on his career, and explains why “Helter Skelter” made his career difficult.
“Vintage Making of Lifeforce Featurette” is a twenty one minute behind the scenes featurette from when the film was originally made. There’s also the original trailers, original TV spots, and a Still Gallery. For fans there’s a Commentary with Director Tobe Hooper who, joined by moderator Tim Sullivan, explains his fond memories of the movie with Sullivan who seems to be a big fan. There’s finally a commentary with Make up Effects Designer Nick Maley. Hosted by Michael Felcher, Maley explains why he loves “Lifeforce” and why it’s his best work, and how he became involved with “Lifeforce.”