Based on the novel The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson, Lifeforce is a 1985 sci-fi horror directed by the late Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) and written by Don Jakoby (Evolution) and Dan O’Bannon (Alien) – not to be confused with Steve Bannon. Nor are the space vampires for that matter.

An enormous phallic alien spacecraft is discovered hidden in the coma of Halley’s Comet, containing 3 sexy naked aliens in suspended animation. They are brought to Earth, where the bodies start to pile up faster than the Mueller investigation. What’s truly bizarre is that this decidedly hokey premise is played completely straight – except when Patrick Stewart snogs another man. It’s that movie.

Mathilda May

Usually the straight-faced treatment of B material is one of my angriest bugbears, but in this case a) it’s hard to tell exactly how straight-faced Hooper is being and b) the overall effect is oddly fascinating – like watching Under The Skin and Plan 9 From Outer Space at the same time. It’s an interesting tension that makes the film feel strangely subversive and about 20 years older than it actually is, thanks largely to charmingly creaky creature effects that resemble O’Bannon’s The Return of the Living Dead. And Bannon’s for that matter.

This sense of satire is furthered by the English accents and references to Churchill and Heseltine, as well as Henry Mancini’s (The Pink Panther) portentous score. The result is like some strange Quatermash-up of Nigel Kneale and John Carpenter.

It’s possible that this curious tension is completely accidental, but either way this space oddity should be watched by anyone who wants to see Patrick Stewart hamming it up and some great sci-fi sex scenes. Eccentrically combining ideas from zombie apocalypse, alien invasion and body snatcher movies, Lifeforce is where Event Horizon meets Event Horizon Crescent.

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