Saturday, November 3, 2012

Did I Seriously Just Watch That? - Captain Piccard and the Topless Space Vampires Edition

Despite the title of this post, I have not been rewatching TNG again. No, the title of this film refers to the 1985 not-quite-classic, Lifeforce. Normally, when I subject myself to the terrible (well, sometimes terrible) movies that I watch (and end up writing about here), I subject only myself to the horrors that I unleash. Last night, however, my wife was around for it and here's her one-sentence response to Lifeforce: "It was really bad and I wouldn't ever want to let you make me watch that again." For me, this was actually my second time watching Lifeforce and I think I shared it with her because (a) I remembered it being better (probably because I was only half-paying attention) and (b) the Ring logic. Now she'll have to make someone else watch it, and the cycle will be complete.

Zombie space vampires strike again!
So, WTF is Lifeforce? It is a sort of gem of international cinema wherein a group of British filmmakers decide to over-reach their conceivable means and attempt to make a film that none of them have the skill or intellectual capacity to make. Now, there are some good bits of this movie (I actually thought that the alien ship set was pretty great), but those bits are immediately plastered over by a healthy coat of "what the FUCK was that?" by the next set of absolutely gonzo retardedness (the naked human-like aliens found in that alien ship). I feel like any explanation I would try to give of the plot of this movie would be met by incredulity by anyone who read it. Effectively, Lifeforce is the best worst naked space vampires brought to Earth by Haley's comet only to flood London with zombie space vampire beasts movie ever known to man. Oh, did I forget the subplot with tracking the psychic path of a naked space vampire whose psyche leaps from victim to victim which incites the most disturbingly off-handedly misogynist scene I've ever seen in a movie ("It's okay, she's a masochist! So I'll have to hit her harder!") that ends with the naked space vampire lady's mind inhabiting the body of a psychiatrist played by none other than Patrick Stewart.

Yup, that all happens in this movie.

The good news is that I don't have to tell you any more about the plot.

This spaceship is either in the tail of Haley's comet or *IS* Haley's comet.
So, here's the lowdown. This movie felt at a lot of points like it was trying to achieve something greater than it was capable of. There were some of these overreaching bits that made me feel like it was attempting to be the 2001 of space horror, a goal that it came nowhere near accomplishing. Among the aspects of the film in its favor were (a) its completely confusing/confused narrative, (b) some surprisingly good set design (at times, there were some real stinkers of sets though; you cannot convince me that the British prime minister works in a basement), (c) really neat animatronics for the zombie-esque vampires and (d) a Henry Mancini soundtrack. Henry goddamn Mancini. So, how does it fail to reach that lofty goal that its makers set for it? How about the worst dialog writing since Galactica 1980? How about having one of the main characters (the naked vampire lady) be naked for the entire goddamn film? How can I take this film as a serious endeavor?

The best way to defeat space vampires
Right, there you have it. Nudity. All the time. A strange sexual undercurrent that doesn't come off as sexy, more like ridiculously creepy, particularly when coupled with the "we'll beat a lady to give us the info we want which is okay because she's a Masochist which I know because I can read her mind, trust me" scene I mentioned above. Bizarre vampire logic (apparently, you have to use leaded iron to kill them by impaling them "right below the heart in the energy center there"). This movie has it all, and more.

I mentioned at the start of this article that I watched this movie about two years ago and decided that I needed to do so again, primarily for the sake of writing another article like this about it. My wife was an unfortunate victim. I just had to wait for her to head off to work for me to watch the last 20 minutes of it because neither one of us could make it through the whole thing in one sitting. She hopes to never have to sit through it again, ever. Even after the painful experience of watching Lifeforce last night, I have to admit that I might try it again sometime when (a) at least a year has passed, (b) my wife isn't around and (c) I feel the masochistic urge to punch myself in the brain by watching it again. I actually suggest giving Lifeforce a try, but bear a few things in mind:
  1. Have something else to do while watching it. Lifeforce is best when you're not actually paying attention to it.
  2. Don't think too hard about it. Naked space vampires. That's all you need to know.
  3. Don't get drinks or snacks ready beforehand, you may need to take a break from all of the majesty that is Lifeforce
If you follow these three simple admonitions, you may survive Lifeforce with only minor cerebral bruising and may actually enjoy the film like I did the first time around.