Lead actor: Steve Railsback, Peter Firth.
Director: Tobe Hooper.
We’re still getting lots of suggestions for ideas to include in the original live music entertainment stream on my new streaming service, VickiTube. After a small crash, we prepare for a musical version of Towering Inferno, we scrap the disaster movies of the 70s. Too bad, I would have been sensational as Olivia de Havilland in Roy (although that role should have been scrapped due to my perpetually youthful appearance as I got older) or as Paul Newman in When Time’s Over (although that role needs to be reconsidered a bit as a true female lead, as an excuse to wear a perfectly refined evening gown while diving into a volcano).
American Psycho and Silence of the Lambs were popular with audiences in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but both titles were already musicals, and we would have had to work with the rights holders to adapt them in a way that would do justice to my many musical talents. Currently, the most popular choice is Event Horizon, which has some simply great options for non-gravity number taps. My own composer, Mr. Tyson, begins my second ballad, Libera Tutem Ex Inferis. His first draft was very good, but I think he could have used more zucchini in the orchestration.
While my talented team continues to plan this essential work for our spring offerings, I continue to refine my weekly morning show, The View with Vicki. Last week, we looked at important domestic political issues, such as the political affiliations of various soft drink brands and Jill Biden’s clothing choices. It is so exciting to be involved in such meaningful and important commentary on these critical issues of our time.
Also Practically Wiki, where I digitally edit classic films to spice them up with a bit of MNM style, continues to draw a large crowd that can easily be estimated at a few dozen. Next week I’ll be filling in for Kevin Kline in the 80s film Pirates of Penzance as a pirate queen who has the most adorable habit of climbing over the graves of her friends ploughing the sea with a crane.
After the day’s production meetings, I was in such a good mood that I had to retire to my home theater for some rest, a rather celebratory bottle of bourbon and a movie. Without even glancing at the Amazon Prime offerings, I browsed through the selection for a while and stopped at the 1985 film Lifeforce. I vaguely remember seeing this movie decades ago, but I didn’t remember much other than a space story and a vampirism story, so I decided to watch it. I thought it might serve as a study for the Event Horizon project, since space horror is a rather rare genre. In the end, I was thoroughly entertained, but not necessarily in the way the filmmakers intended.
Lifeforce is the sequel to Tob Hooper’s Poltergeist, which he directed in collaboration with Steven Spielberg (some claim that Spielberg is the real director of this film). Cannon Films, under the wing of Golan and the Globe, an Israeli film mogul of the 1980s (best known for productions that rarely rose above cheap trash), apparently gave Hooper a bunch of money and a novel by Colin Wilson titled Cosmic Vampires and told him to go ahead and indulge. He took the money, exceeded the schedule and budget, and came up with a lousy piece about naked vampires that made the box office explode. After watching this piece of cheese fall off the resume of a number of well-known actors, it wasn’t hard to see why.
In 1986, Halley’s comet passed in front of Earth again, as usual (remember that Lifeforce was produced in 1984 and released in 1985). The Churchill reconnaissance spacecraft, a joint US-British mission, is sent to the comet to see what happens there. There they find a mysterious alien ship, seemingly abandoned, hiding near the top of a comet. As you explore the spaceship, you will find many dead humanoid bats and three glass coffins containing beautiful naked people (two men and one woman). A leap forward… The Churchill was found adrift and burned, the crew dead, but with naked people in glass coffins still on board.
Naked spacemen return to Earth to be studied by Dr. Fallada (Frank Finlay) in his top-secret laboratory in London. He teams up with Colonel Kane (Peter Firth) of the British Army, and then they enlist the help of the American commander of the Churchill, Colonel Carlsen (Steve Railsback), who survived the disaster that killed the rest of the crew and escaped in an escape pod.
It soon becomes clear that the naked aliens are in fact naked space vampires who suck the life force, not the blood, out of their victims, leaving them as desiccated zombies. Eventually, for very dark reasons, we end up in an insane asylum run by Patrick Stewart, and the entire population of London degenerates into a horde of zombies whose life forces create a column of blue energy that shoots up from the roof of St. Paul’s Church. (I’m not making this up, you know that). The movie eventually ends, but not before he has sex with a naked space vampire and wipes his ass.
I really don’t know what to say about Lifeforce. It’s one of those epics you have to believe in. The script (Dan O’Bannon and Don Jacoby) is a mess, jumping from place to place in terms of setting and logic, in nothing like O’Bannon’s sparse script for the classic space horror genre Alien. Even Colin Wilson, the author of the novel, couldn’t handle it and disapproved of the film. Toby Hooper’s directing has its moments.
There are some beautifully composed shots and some scary moments, especially in the scene where the space vampires are discovered in the alien ship. But most of Lifeforce, once it gets going, is just silly, with no fear or attempt at comic relief to fall to the ground. John Dykstra, one of the geniuses of visual effects in film, is having a field day. His alien builds and some transformation and energy effects are brilliant. And then there are shots of London in flames that are so obviously cheaply modeled that it looks like they’re from another movie.
The benefits are useful, but not memorable. Frank Finlay rolls his eyes and waves his pompadour like a mad scientist should. Patrick Stewart writhes and screams in his death scene. Peter Firth is relatively unremarkable as the lead actor. Steve Railsback, an excellent actor who never had a deserving career, probably due to his appearances in inferior films like this, brings a seriousness and intensity to his role, and you can almost believe the changes he has to go through to make the story work. With our heroine, Matilda May, as a naked space vampire, it’s clear that she was chosen for the two enormous talents in the center of her chest and not for any other special abilities.
Go to Lifeforce if you want cheap entertainment. But I’ll pour you some bourbon to get you through the most ridiculous times.
A desiccated humanoid bat. Many people are dehydrated. Radio destroyed. A naked soldier. Lots of free space vampires. Hijacking the helicopter. An ancient weapon of destruction. Defeated the British Special Forces.
To learn more about Ms. Norman Maine, see our introduction.
Ma’am. Norman Maine, a native of Seattle Washington, the land of fog, coffee and flying salmon, came of age as Athena from Andy’s mind during a difficult period in his life shortly after he moved to Alabama.
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