17th Nov2013

‘Lifeforce’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Steve Railsback, Mathilda May, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Patrick Stewart, Michael Gothard | Written by Dan O’Bannon | Directed by Tobe Hooper


Based on a book by Colin Wilson known as Space Vampires and adapted by Dan O’Bannon for the silver screen Lifeforce is one of the most unique versions of the vampire legend ever put to screen.  Featuring enough nudity to keep any eighties teenage boy happy Tobe Hooper created an epic sci-fi horror that not only pays homage to Hammer but also creates a truly unique experience.  Much loved by the fans who have discovered it and looked back on with fondness by the people who starred in it and worked on it behind the scenes, Lifeforce is one of the treasures of the horror world that should be truly loved.

Arrow Video have paid respect to Lifeforce in the best way, giving it a re-mastering that makes it look the best it has done in years.  Adding various commentary tracks and documentaries to the mix (some exclusive to the UK release) this feels like the definitive release of the movie, though if we were to compare it to any other release on DVD or Blu-ray we’d probably find a version hard to come by.  Arrow are very good at picking up movies that may not be “mainstream” popular but have a cult following, and for this very reason they have devoted fans.

When looking at the actual film and not just praising how good this release is the attention will always come to the nudity in the film for both positive and negative reasons.  Is Lifeforce exploitative of Mathilda May as she is naked in almost all of the film? My answer to this is no.  As a “vampire” if we can call her character that, she is an extreme version of sexuality and attraction, everything about her oozes power over the men that she attacks (or as we also see she attacks women too).  The film does have a focus of putting the male characters against the female vampire, but there is never the feeling that she is being exploited by them, if anything she uses their weakness of their attraction to her against them.  Food for thought really and very interesting when you look at the fact that her character as a “force” not only inhabits her body, but also takes male form at times and from the commentaries we here an interesting story about Patrick Stewart in relation to this.

What I love about Lifeforce is the fact that it is a classic, and it feels very much a British one.  Looking back at nostalgic horror and science fiction some of the best examples of cult classics are British horrors and I do include Lifeforce in this.  With both the UK release of the film and international release included in on the discs it’s nice to see Lifeforce getting the respect it deserves from a company that provides us with some of the very best of horror.

Lifeforce is out now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek.com

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