Friday, 28 July 2017

Lifeforce (1985)

"Columbia, they're all dead!"

 Well, this certainly isn't the sort of film you'd expect of Tobe Hooper, he of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist fame. Oh, it's well-directed and acted, with horror-like touches, but it's an oddly straight piece of very British alien invasion sci-fi, stuffed with British character actors such as Frank Finlay (always the Witchsmeller Pursuivant to me), John Hallam (Forget Light- he'll always be Sir Wilfred Death to me), Patrick Stewart, Aubrey Morris and even John Woodnutt.

The script, to be frank, is British sci-fi by numbers and nothing special, a very well-made film but with an average script. It's like an episode of Doctor Who with a Hollywood budget and more nudity, right down to the suspiciously large influence plot-wise from The Quatermass Experiment, only without any of Nigel Kneale's characteristic pessimism.

Still, the film is acted well and looks good, with some truly magnificent examples of stop-motion animation which seemed to reach a real peak in the immediately pre-CGI era. Steve Railsback and Peter Firth make decent if rather unhinged-looking stars and it's fun to revel in the '80s-ness of the space shuttles, computer screens and obsession with the return of Halley's Comet. It's odd that a contemporary film should feature such suspiciously advanced space tech, but heigh-ho. Arguably beginning to fade into obscurity from its cult status, Lifeforce is definitely worth seeing not only because it's a fun bit of '80s nostalgia but because it's actually quite good, although I wouldn't put it more strongly than that..

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