Saturday 28 September 2013

Lifeforce - a UK Blu-Ray review

I remember many years ago, back when I was in college. One of my chums came in with a video tape of a film he’d recorded off Sky Movies and asked if I wanted to borrow it. I asked what it was about and I recall him saying something about alien vampires and this naked girl wandering round, sucking people’s energy out of them.
It didn’t really sound like my sort of film, as back in those days I was more into action movies, but having been sold on prospect of female nudity, a requisite for any good film, I decided to give it a go.
The movie turned out to be “Lifeforce”. I can’t say as I had heard of it prior that, indeed, back in those days I didn’t even know who director Tobe Hooper was (much to my shame), so wasn’t sure what to expect. But as the film got going, I was actually pleasantly surprised. at just how good it was, and what great fun it turned out to be.
Well Arrow films have just added this one to their list of Blu-Ray titles, and is due to be released shortly and I was lucky enough to take a look at an advance copy to review.
Set in London, a joint US/European Space Shuttle mission bring back, what appears to be, 3 human looking aliens, 2 males and a female, that they discovered inside an alien spacecraft hidden in the tail of Haley’s Comet.
However, whilst the people at London’s space research centre are attempting to study them, the female (played by French actress Mathilda May) suddenly wakes up and, in a huge flash of light, drains the life force out of the unfortunate security officer, before escaping.
Attempting to examine the body of the dead guard, they suddenly discover they have a very serious problem on their hands, when the body suddenly sits bolt upright on the autopsy table and sucks the life force out of the doctor preparing to autopsy him. Yes it seems these creatures are some sort of “space vampires” and anyone they kill, becomes a vampire themselves, which need to feed every 2 hours in order to survive (and producing some spectacularly explosive results if they don’t).
With the girl on the loose and leaving a trail of shrivelled up corpses in her wake, they bring in SAS Colonel, Colin Caine (Peter Firth) to try and capture her. Aided by the only surviving member of the shuttle crew that brought the aliens back, Colonel Tom Carlsen (played by B-movie actor Steve Railsback), they attempt to find her before she turns any more people into these energy draining vampires.
But when London is suddenly placed under military quarantine, as a dearth of vampires swamp the city streets, draining each others Lifeforce, it becomes a race against time to try and find a way of stopping them before it spreads any further.
Based on the novel “Space Vampires” by Colin Wilson and adapted by noted screen writer Dan O’Bannon (Alien, Return of the Living Dead), the film is great fun, boasting plenty of action and some great special effects. The scenes in space being easily on par with “Alien” and the scenes of destruction during the vampire rampage in London were like a larger scale version of the chaos in Picadilly Circus from John Landis’s “American Werewolf in London”. There’s also plenty of gratuitous nudity from lead actress Mathilda May (Bonus)!!!!. 
Also starring, noted character actors Frank Finlay (Wild Geese) and Aubrey Morris (Clockwork Orange) as well as a pre-"Star Trek" Patrick Stewart in one of his early film roles. The film, sadly, wasn’t a commercial success when released to cinemas back in 1985, but found a new lease of life on home video and has since, quite rightly, gone on to become a cult classic.
This Blu-Ray release by Arrow films is a special 2-disc edition, containing 2 different versions of the film and a whole stack of special features.
Disc1 contains the Uncut European version of the film and features…
- 3x different audio commentary tracks, one with director Tobe Hooper, the other with visual effects artist doug smith and the final one with make up effects artist Nick Maley.
- An isolated music and special effects soundtrack.
- Cannon Fodder : The Making of Lifeforce, a 70 minute making of feature, featuring interviews with many of the production crew, including Director Tobe Hooper, and a few of the co-stars of the feature, including Nicholas Ball and  Aubrey Morris.
- Space Vampires in London, which is essentially an interview with Tobe Hooper about the making of the film, which runs about 10mins.
- Carlsen’s Curse, a 10 minute interview feature with Steve Railsback.
- Mathilda May : Dangerous Beauty, interview with lead actress Mathilda May, in which she discusses her many nude scenes, which runs approximately 15 minutes.
- 2x theatrical trailers, one from the US release by Tri-Star and one for the international release by Cannon.
Disc 2 contains the shorter US theatrical version.
Both discs contain optional sub-titles for the hard of hearing. The case also contains a collectors booklet featuring linear notes on the film by sci-fi expert Bill Warren and a text interview with visual effects artist John Dykestra, illustrated throughout with posters and stills and artwork from the film.
The film is available in a standard case, containing reversible artwork, or in a special limited edition “Steelbook” edition and will be released in the UK October 14th, in time for Halloween!!!
I've been a long time fan of this film and this is by far the best release of the movie to date. Making it a must for anyone looking to add this to their collection.

Buy the UK BD at

Buy the UK BD Steelbook at

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