The generous portion of 1985 big-screen fecal matter that is Lifeforce is a painful experience. Director Tobe Hooper presumably decided he hated the world and all of its inhabitants one morning, in a fragrant overreaction to some minor misdemeanour. (“You ate the last biscuit! You know I needed that, the sugary goodness keeps up my energy for the creation of hideously shit films! These terrible cinematic ballaches don’t direct themselves! My work on Poltergeist was rather stellar, I’ll concede. Wait until you see this next piece of pure terrible, though. You’ll shit.”) As such, he saw fit to unleash this hideous lumpen monstrosity on an unsuspecting human race. As far as crimes against humanity go, Lifeforce is right up there with the notorious shenanigans of Saddam Hussein. It would have been less offensive for Hooper to have entered the screening of another movie; taken a dump on the floor in front of the screen, and proceeded to smear it across the faces of the moviegoers, than unleash this on them. I’m not one to make an outlandish claim like ‘worst film ever’ lightly, so here are some definitive reasons why Lifeforce (part horror, part science fiction, all utterly and virulently shit) is the cinematic equivalent of a particularly prolific outbreak of the Black Death. Which, if memory of history class serves, caused you to contract giant purple ball-boils. Just so we’re clear on the level of uncool being dealt with here.
Firstly, there’s the plot. This lunacy was inspired by Colin Wilson’s novel The Space Vampires. I’ve never partaken in this particular tome, but judging by how closely it must resemble Lifeforce it’s safe to assume there are more enjoyable things to do. Like horse sex, in this case. We first meet the crew of the HMS Churchill, a spacecraft with the alleged mission of intercepting and studying Halley’s Comet. (How one intercepts a comet remains unclear. “Yeeha! Look ma, there’s that darn varmint comet! Let’s lasso the bastard and bring it on home!” Come to think of it, what the hell would studying it involve? “After a few months of intense analysis, I’ve concluded that it is, in fact, a huge-ass comet.”) After a brief moment of bullshit about the craft’s newly developed ‘Nerva engine’ (a tenuous ruse which actually translates to there’s no practical way of demonstrating anti-gravity with special effects, so nuts to it), we arrive at the comet, to discover a odd umbrella-spacecraft concealed, immobile, within. Have the crew all gone off for a crap? Fortunately not, as that implies a giant communal pig’s trough-esque toilet, and isn’t the most endearing of images. Instead, they all decided to transform into monstrous bat-giants. And die. Of the tediousness and mortal shame that comes from featuring in this two-hour-long-ball-itch of a movie, I’d wager. In the next chamber, the crew finds three cryogenically frozen humanoid bodies, which they intend to take with them back to Earth. The female of the species, who is rather attractive and remarkably uninhibited when it comes to clothing (the only possible selling point for this shite, as is made plain by this poster image from zombiereportingcenter), escapes the confinement of London’s space centre. The soul-sucking rampage that follows is the driving force for the farce that unfolds. In the brief span of Lifeforce, we travel from outer space, to an insane asylum, to the zombie-infested streets of London. It’s monstrously convoluted, as though Hooper had a vague idea for three different films and attempted to combine them all together. The resultant disastrous mess, resembling the aftermath of an attack of explosive diarrhoea, is the ballache you see before you.
The premise is ludicrous, but the acting on display here is a fellow candidate for worst thing in the world ever. The performances and the script seem to vie for notoriety, usually with hilarious results. In the first thirty seconds, you’ll witness such delights as the remarkably English, “have you chaps run an equipment check?” and acting so wooden it’s like the Churchill is inhabited by a crew of midget Ents. From here, it’s a relentless parade of farcical scenarios. One of my personal highlights is the guard in the space complex, attempting to quell the rage of the sans-clothing vampiress by luring her over with a tasty biscuit. That he’s half-eaten. (“Hey, lady! Over here! Look! Custard creams, your favourite. Stop sucking people’s soul-juice out through their mouths, and have a Hob Nob.” That’s not far off the actual dialogue, alas.) Some fools deserve a hideous death. Meanwhile, Patrick Stewart displays his best attempt at a look how sexy I am facial expression, while shapeshifting between his own form and the girl’s. Shortly before exploding in a shower of blood and squelchy viscera aboard a helicopter. These kinds of shenanigans, you don’t see every day.
A special mention, too, for the special effects. Watch the trailer below, and I defy you not to laugh at the sheer incontinence-inspiring terror of the lameass zombie-things. About as alarming as Worzel Gummidge. In another instance, one of the infected morons tries to climb into a helicopter and skin from its hand is savagely torn away. Supposedly. The dramatic effect is mitigated somewhat by the all-too-visible rubber glove the actor is wearing.
Now, I’m no movie expert. There could be reams of them out there worse than this. But for an appalling idea, shockingly done, you need look no further than this steaming heap of horsecrap. Where the hell did a doctor, a doctor of actual science, get that ridiculous lead sword? I demand to know, Hooper!
I have no choice but to exhort you, under threat of name-calling and ball-twistings, to watch this trailer from CannonFilms. Truly, utterly and thoroughly contemptible. Still, unintentional humour can be the best sort, as you’ll see:
Article by Chris Littlechild
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