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Meh.  You’d think a movie involving space vampires, a naked lady, and zombies (er, space zombies?) would be great.  You’d be wrong.  This movie isn’t terrible, but there are lots of other movies that do what it does better.  Here are some comparisons (I freely admit that comparing a movie to others that came later isn’t really fair, but I don’t care):

  • Trope: The astronauts find a creepy spaceship that seems mysteriously organic.  Inside are creepy aliens.
    They did it better in… Alien. The creepy alien isn’t creepy when it’s a naked lady (see below).  Also, it’s lame that this is the same screenwriter as Alien.  Dan O’Bannon, what were you thinking?
  • Trope: Naked alien lady seduces men and kills them to accomplish her alien deeds.
    They did it better in…Species. The mid-nineties sex/splatter fest was clearly inspired by this film.  One interpretation of LifeForce is that it plays on the vagina dentata, positing a terrifying sexual figure who devours men.  Species took this idea and made it much more interesting.
  • Trope: London is destroyed by zombies as people try to figure out how to stop the plague.
    They did it better in…Every zombie movie.  The problem with the zombies in this film is that they never got enough play to become frightening or even interesting.  They were a prop to move the plot forward.  I wonder if the zombies were just a bleed-over from Dan O’Bannon’s other 1985 project, Return of the Living Dead.
  • Trope: Something strange happens out in space and we shouldn’t have brought it back. (The film begins with a visit to Halley’s comet where they find the mysterious ship.)
    They did it better in…Event Horizon, which I actually liked much better than most people did.
  • Trope: We find impossibly old aliens and it turns out they may have been here before.
    They did it better in…2001: A Space Odyssey. ‘Nuff said.

For each notable person involved in the film, there’s something better to watch.  Patrick Stewart? X-Men or the first TNG movie.  Dan O’Bannon? Return of the Living Dead or Alien. Tobe Hooper directed Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Poltergeist.  Cinematographer Alan Hume shot A Fish Called Wanda.  Composer Henry Mancini wrote The Pink Panther and Peter Gunn.  Editor John Grover cut a couple Bond films and Labyrinth.  This seems to be one of those movies with lots of skilled people that just didn’t go anywhere.

I just hope Mathilda May got some extra green for each scene she had to do topless or naked, if for no better reason than as a kickback for keeping the costume budget low.

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