ToadKillerDog falls in love with Mathilda May…
It’s always nice when we get a new contributor. This time out it’s Below the line regular and caretaker of the most alcoholic dog in continental America ToadKillerDog.
He’s popping his critical cherry with perennial alcohol accompaniment favourite, Tobe Hooper’s epic and completely coke-fueled Lifeforce.
Take it away TKD…
The review/recap. There be spoilers ahead -only 28 years later
The 1980’s. Anytime a decade can run the gamut from Rocky III to Mac and Me and have time to include Slim Whitman, Axl Rose and Michael Jackson in-between- don’t even go there, you know some serious weirdness has taken place. I spent most of that decade in the service of Gods greatest creation: The United States Marine Corps. So, I missed my opportunity to wear shoulder pads and have a mullet while enjoying a free three martini lunch. Dang. I also missed a few movies. One of which I have been hearing about ever since I joined up with this motley group known as the Changians and so I have recently rectified that omission. That movie is: Lifeforce.
Based upon Colin Wilson’s 1976 novel, Space Vampires, this Tobe Hooper directed science fiction- horror- vampire-zombie, action flick was purportedly written by Dan O’Bannon and Don Jakoby. I say purportedly because I doubt they got any further in the script other than “Beautiful Girl Walks naked throughout… fap-fap-fap”. Producer Cannon films had pretensions of elevating this production above their usual fare of cheapness, into a genuine big-budget (for them) 25 Million blockbuster. They failed.
First, they jettisoned the novel’s title, because it does sound like a Roger Corman vehicle , or a typically cheap Cannon film. Then they “attached “ the project to a whole host of big name British films stars from Sir John Gielgud to Anthony Hopkins, before finally settling on Peter Firth as Col. Caine of the SAS and Frank Finlay as researcher Dr. Fallada – who just so happens to have an unhealthy fixation on death and the afterlife. The cast also included an embarrassingly bad, but highly entertaining cameo from a pre-Picard; Patrick Stewart, and the ever reliable to overact, Steve Railsback as the American Col. Carlsen who commands the space mission.
The movie opens promisingly with a joint European and American crew of the space shuttle Churchill, rocketing with the aid of their Nerva Drive to a rendezvous with Halley’s Comet. After discovering a space craft within the comet, they investigate and find three apparently dead, but well preserved humanoid and totally naked, lifeforms contained in what appears to be glass coffins. They also see hundreds if not thousands of dead giant bat-like creatures. Seeing the naked form of the female humanoid creature played with spectacular nakedness by Mathilda May – more on her later, all of the men on the expedition immediately reassess their positions on necrophilia (they are for it!) – never mind alien necrophilia, except for Carlsen who has always been in favor of getting it on with the dead. However, none of them considered the consequences of space herpes. Oh yes, there were two naked alien dudes there as well, but if the women on the expedition were similarly overcome with desire, it was not noted and who cares anyway.
After bringing the creatures aboard the Churchill – which has been out of radio contact with Earth, the action shifts to thirty days later and a worried Earth HQ which dispatches a rescue mission as the apparently disabled craft has made its way home on auto pilot. The rescuers discover a burned out hulk with all the crew dead and one escape pod missing. They also discover three naked humanoids in glass coffins. So, of course they bring them back to Earth. The magnificent Mathilda May – I promise more on her later, awakens and sucks the lifeforce (Mathilda May sucks!) out of a guard and escapes, while being observed by Dr. Deathstalker Fallada and some other Doctor chap who is entirely superfluous – and disappears shortly thereafter. Meanwhile the escape pod with Steve R. crashes in Texas, and SAS man Colin Caine takes over the investigation. Steverino tells all he knows – although not fessing-up to his alien dead banging, then he is put under observation where he dreams of Mathilda – who wouldn’t?
He is hypnotized where it is discovered he has a link to double M, they trace the link where it ultimately leads to a hospital manager played by an over the top, overwrought and obviously needing to make next month’s rent; Patrick Stewart who single-handedly chewed through ten million dollars worth of scenery in one take! But it turns out they were deceived and that Matilda only lured them out to the countryside to prevent them from stopping the real threat which is the male vamps who escaped and who start turning everyone they meet into vampzoms– although one of male vamps looks to have been staked in the heart with a sword by Dr. Fallada. Suddenly London is on fire as riotous vampzoms lay waste to old blighty. Everyone who is turned into a vampzom winds up sending their dying lifeforce through the female vampire zombie laying fully clothed (why Matilda, why?) on an altar, up into the ship from the comet that has just entered orbit. Apparently the dead giant bats are the true form of the vampzoms, and supposedly are the actual vampires of Human legend. Let’s just leave it at that.
SAS dude retrieves the sword, but not before Dr. Deathstalker – who seems hellbent on finding out if life after death exists, tries for some reason to kill him – must have been a bad editing cut (certainly not the first) – I assume Dr. D was infected somehow, but not completely drained, and was turned, even though he killed one of the vamps who did it. I assume that, it was never explained. Wasted too much time on that need to get to Mathilda!
Carlsen, finds double M, and they screw standing up because they can and because she tells him they are part of each other now because she shared her alien essence or vampzom sex juices when he banged her dead body – see? Space herps. Gets ya every time. SAS guy arrives with sword, he hands it to Carlsen who is still doing the vertical alien bang – because he can, and he promptly stabs double M in the back while he is still, uh attached to her from the front – her back with that beautiful rear end, is to SAS guy so she never see’s it coming! Heh. The sword impales both of them, but their essence travels to the ship and the ship is satisfied – it is Mathilda afterall, and disappears. Movie over.
This flick is all over the place. It has no idea what it wants to be. A serious sci-fi, or a tongue-in-cheek horror. Action adventure, or voyeur porn. You name it and they throw it on the screen. From awful over acting, to wondrous nakedness. Mathilda! From mass destruction – London getting blowed-up good, to contemplation of the afterlife. And yet…it somehow works. It is not a good movie. But it is not a bad one either. It is entertaining and deliriously stupid.
Lets get to what really makes this work and worth looking at.
She was butt naked throughout except for some inexplicable reason near the end of the flick where they put her in a robe laying on an altar! Why? Was she cold? Get some heaters. Was it because after weeks of seeing her naked perfection – massively conical and majestic breasts and a perfectly sculpted rear end that is simply the greatest in all of cinematic history, that the crew finally could no longer contain themselves so she was covered up for her own protection? Nonsense! If she was not attacked on the very first day of her on set nekkidness ( I have seen no reports one way or the other), then she never would be, because the crew were obviously composed of eunuchs.
The magnificent double M is worth the price of the DVD all by herself. This is the greatest on screen debut since Bruce the shark bit the boat.
I give this flick a 2 out of four flying Toads – before factoring in double M. Which pushes this thing into a 3 out of 4 flying Toads and a must see!