Lifeforce (1985) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

Lifeforce (1985) Directed by Tobe Hooper. With Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May and Patrick Stewart.


Adapted for the screen by Dan O’Bannon and Don Jakoby from Colin Wilson’s novel, The Space Vampires, Lifeforce is a genre crossing sci-fi/horror film directed by scare master, Tobe Hooper.

It’s disappointing then, considering the talent involved, that the end result is such a lacklustre affair. It’s not that the film doesn’t have a good central idea, or for that matter, interesting visual effects, it’s that the execution is pompous with very little depth of character.

The film begins well, with the promise of some intriguing science fiction, but it’s over all too soon, giving way to scenes involving lots of suited men in rooms, spewing out dry exposition dialogue. When anything of note does occur, John Dykstra’s award-winning special effects are inventive, and are a welcome break from the mostly empty performances.

It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for French actress Mathilda May, who as the ‘Space Girl’ of the piece, spends most of it completely naked, being unceremoniously snogged by an over eager Steve Railsback.

If the film were better, I’d have complementary things to say about the attempt to shun the convention of spectacle, in favour of succeeding as a weird psycho-sexual space thriller, but every time Railsback’s hypnotised central character gets a moment alone with the ‘Space Girl’, the environment becomes a red & blue Duran Duran music video, but without anything as scary as Nick Rhodes’s hair.

By the end of Lifeforce, you might feel some of your own drained away. It’s desperate to be taken seriously as an epic composition of action, romance, horror and sci-fi, yet sadly, it succeeds in one unintended aim – it’s  boring. 2/5

About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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4 Responses to Lifeforce (1985) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. Laura O says:

    Oh dear, that does sound bad! It makes for a funny review, though, so all is not lost.

  2. garethrhodes says:

    Yes, I’ve made some poor choices today. Time to break out some Hitchcock to even the balance.

  3. Yeah I agree. I wasn’t very fond of this, but outside of TCM, which is a favorite and TCM 2 and to a lesser degree the Funhouse I’m not really a Tobe Hooper fan

  4. garethrhodes says:

    Before this, I’d only seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and an episode of The Twilight Zone that he directed. He just couldn’t get to grips with the subject matter here. It’s a bit of a mess.

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