Film / Lifeforce

"I mean, in a sense we're all vampires. We drain energy from other life forms. The difference is one of degree. That girl was no girl. She's totally alien to this planet and our life form... and totally dangerous."

Lifeforce (1985), possibly better known as the "Naked Space Vampire Movie", is—a very strange film, directed by Tobe Hooper for The Cannon Group. It is based on an equally strange sci-fi novel by Colin Wilson.

In 1985, a European Space Shuttle mission to Halley's Comet finds in the comet's tail an abandoned spacecraft with three (apparent) naked humans, two men and a woman, in suspended animation encased in glass pods. Later, after taking the pods aboard, the Shuttle goes out of contact with ground control. A rescue mission finds that all the crew are dead but the three people in the pods are still alive. The three not-really-humans are brought to Earth, whereupon they wake up, blow the hell out of the European Space Research Center, and escape. Meanwhile, the sole survivor of the shuttle's crew has returned to earth in an escape pod with a tale of terror...

And then it gets even weirder. Has to be seen to be believed.

Not to be confused with Life Energy, which is a trope. Also not to be confused with the NES port of Salamander.

This film provides examples of:

  • Age Without Youth: A particularly severe example. Anyone drained by the Space Vampires will turn into a husk and explode into dust unless they can suck the soul out of a hapless victim. Every 2 hours.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Space Girl emerges from the pod speaking perfect English. Caine actually takes the time to wonder how that's possible. It's revealed later that they probed the astronauts' minds when they discovered the vampire spaceship.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: The second of the three guards who briefly corner the Space Girl. Despite having just witnessed her effortlessly zap one of his companions, he rushes towards her armed only with a walkie-talkie. Small wonder she zaps him too.
  • Big Bad: The vampire space-ship. The vampires are just servants or parts of it.
  • Body Surf: After her escape the female vampire starts switching from body to body to evade capture. And distract the heroes from their plans.
  • Bring It: With a touch of Be Careful What You Wish For. The vampire outside the church to Caine: "It'll be much less terrifying if you just come to me." Caine's response? "I'll do just that."
  • Colonel Badass: Col. Colin Caine. Full stop. Wandering through Vampire infected London with the full knowledge of the danger, achieving every objective and coming out alive. Yeah, Badass.
  • Catapult Nightmare: While Carlson is asleep he has a nightmare of the space girl visiting him in his bed and wakes up terrified
  • Comet of Doom: The arrival of Halley's Comet foretells doom for London, as it contains an alien spaceship that carried space vampires. Discussed, as the characters mention that the appearance of Halley's Comet has been considered a warning of disaster for centuries, possibly because seeing it meant the alien ship within was near enough to allow the vampires to reach Earth and feed.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: By the end nearly all the hero characters are dead or servants of the alien. The alien, after its snack, goes off on its merry way to devour other planets. The one survivor who knows anything about what happened probably won't be believed, so there will be little to no preparation for the alien's inevitable return.
  • Dating Catwoman: Carlson is obsessed with the beautiful space vampire he is hunting, even though to touch her means death. They nevertheless make out several times. There's even a Ho Yay moment when he's driven to kiss her while she's occupying the body of a man. He later discovers the reason for his obsession is that she took the image of the perfect woman from his subconscious.
  • Doing In the Wizard: The movie posits that vampire legends are based on a race of alien Life Energy parasites.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The vampire space-ship fits the definition almost exactly. It comes from across the universe, turns out to be in fact alive, is utterly inhuman (although its servants assume human form for convenience), arrives to consume the planet, and the heroes have no chance in hell of defeating it. They merely manage to contain the destruction it causes, and it goes back unharmed to Halley's Comet to return in 75 years for its next feeding.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Cain is mentioned to be in the SAS.
  • Escaped from the Lab: Space Girl's escape from the lab sets off the plot.
  • Escape Pod: Tom Carlsen returns to Earth from the space shuttle Churchill in one.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The male vampire at the end when he talks to Col. Caine.
    [inhumanly deep] It'll be much less terrifying if you just come to me.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Col. Cain and one of the male vampires are implied to be this.
  • Eye Beams: One of the trippy-er posters shows the naked space vampires flying through space strapped to rockets and firing lasers from their eyes.
  • Fanservice: There's a reason why the movie is popularly known as "that naked space vampire movie". This was suggested by writer Dan O'Bannon, who also put a nude girl in his next movie, The Return of the Living Dead. (The expanded soundtrack album's booklet includes two shots of Miss Naked Vampire.)
  • Fan Disservice: When the Space Girl visits Carlsen in his dreams, she proceeds to make out with him while lightning is engulfing the room and animalistic shrieks and howls can be heard all around them. Plus there's all the scenes of the dessicated nude victims.
  • The Film of the Book: The Space Vampires.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The vampires assumed human form by probing the minds of the astronauts for suitable shapes. Their real forms are the hybernating bat-like creatures in their spacecraft, notably seen when the female vampire visits Carlson in his dreams, and when the second male vampire is killed at the end.
  • Full-Frontal Assault:
    • The scene where a completely nude Space Girl goes around the Research Center wreaking havoc is memorable, to say the least.
    • Happens again when the two male vampires break free of their casings, and then a third time when the naked corpse of the first victim springs to life during his own autopsy and attacks the coroners.
  • Gainax Ending: The movie makes it patently unclear just what happens to Space Girl and Carlson after he stabs her at the end. The novel the movie was based off was named "The Space Vampires" and, as Carlson was designated to be her new lifeforce gatherer as the prettyboy vamps had been; essentially their replacement, he wasn't taking chances of ending up alone and drinking lives, possibly for eternity.
  • Gender-Inverted Trope: A gender inversion of the Dracula model where a male vampire with a couple of 'brides' dominates Weak-Willed females — here we have the beautiful Space Girl (with her two male brides) manipulating the desires of Carlson and other random men. This point has been missed by those critics who accuse the film of being misogynist (misogyny in this film exists in plenty of other scenes, such as the scene with the "natural masochist" and the voyeur - the behavior of the protagonists in that scene was not exactly RACK or SSAC compliant).
  • Girl of My Dreams: A dark version. Carlson becomes obsessed with the beautiful naked woman he finds on an alien spacecraft who turns out to be a Life Energy-sucking space vampire. She later informs him that she probed his mind long before his ship approached hers, taking from it an image of his perfect woman.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Briefly mentioned. The Space Girl's first victim outside of the Research Center is a woman. Two men who saw them wander off together admit to doubling back, hoping to see it.
  • Gorn: Two guys have their internal organs burst out rather bloodily, reforming into the shape of the Space Girl.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Kudos to that security guard that thought that luring the Space Girl with a half-eaten biscuit was the smartest thing to do.
  • Horny Devils: The female space "vampire" seduces human men to eat their souls, who in turn become quasi-zombies that further spread the disease.
  • Horror Hunger: What human victims of the space vampires suffer—they need to drain others of life energy or they will literally shrivel up and die.
  • Human Aliens: When the astronauts explore the vampire spaceship they are astonished to discover a humanoid crew in stasis pods. Subverted when it's discovered that they're actually shapeshifting monsters who assumed human form to more easily find and seduce human victims to snack on their souls. Their real form is some sort of extraterrestrial, winged bat creature.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: "Space Girl" walking around the streets of London stark naked as she has no concept of modesty.
  • Interspecies Romance: Space Girl seduces Carlson to become her mate so she can establish a link between vampires and humans to learn more about them. Carlson finds himself driven to pursue her as she's destroying the world, even when Caine reminds him that she's nowhere close to being human.
  • Kiss of Death: Space Girl kills (and zombifies) her victims by sucking out their lifeforce with a kiss.
  • Life Energy: What the vampires feed on.
  • Liquid Assets: The humans' titular lifeforce.
  • Living Aphrodisiac: Space Girl is very beautiful, but the extent to which her victims became helpless, infatuated wrecks when confronted with her implies there is more to her allure than just appearance. One of the doctors who survived an encounter describes her as "the most overwhelming feminine presence I've ever encountered". In the case of Carlson, his obsession with the Space Girl is explained by her taking the form of the perfect woman from his subconscious desires.
  • Living Ship: The spacecraft is either this or a Eldritch Abomination Space Whale.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Spectacularly gorgeous French actress Mathilda May, playing "Space Girl" (really), starts the movie wearing absolutely nothing, and then graduates to wearing next-to-nothing.
  • Name of Cain: Subverted. Special Air Service Colonel Colin Caine stays completely heroic.
  • No Name Given: Sorry, "Space Girl" does not count. Ditto with the other two members of her species that show up.
  • Not Quite Dead: The two male brides are supposedly blown to bits while trying to escape. Turned out they took over the bodies of the soldiers. And all the victims of the vampires become active again after two hours.
  • Nuclear Option: NATO quickly opens possibility of the nuclear option if the British army can't contain the vampiric outbreak in London from spreading any further.
  • Oh, Crap!: Several moments in the film, the discovery that the Prime Minister has been turned being a notable example.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Turns out that the vampire myth stems from these space "vampires," who visit Earth with Halley's Comet to suck the life energy from humans. They look like giant bats while hibernating inside their spaceship, but they transform into regular humans to seduce their prey. Also, while a stake can kill them, it has to be made of metal, and stabbed a few inched under instead of through the heart.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Humans fed on by the vampires become zombie-type creatures which hunt for other humans to suck lifeforce from. Other than being without souls, they appear like normal people until a few hours wait causes them to start decaying unless they replenish themselves by feeding on someone else.
  • The Peeping Tom: Parodied when Lt. Carlson interrogates a woman whose body was taken over by the psychic female space-vampire.
    Lt. Carlson: Despite appearances, this woman is a masochist. An extreme masochist. She wants me to beat the information out of her. If you can't handle it, wait outside!
    Col. Caine: Not at all. I am a natural voyeur.
  • Psychic Link: Between Col. Carlsen, the only survivor from the original space mission (Steve Railsback) and Space Girl.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The vampires are stopped from harvesting the entire planet, but at a heavy cost. The entire downtown metro-area of London is dead, and the infection may spread even further. It is unclear what happened to Carlson, but he's no longer on Earth. Caine's chances of survival don't look too good with the remaining vampire zombies roaming the ruins of London. And the ship itself regenerates and returns to Halley's Comet, so it can return in another 75 years to do it all over again.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Space Girl may look like a twenty-something woman, but that's only because she can shapeshift. She's actually a nigh-immortal space bat who has been roaming the cosmos devouring countless souls for god knows how long.
  • Regularly Scheduled Evil: The space vampires attack the Earth to consume souls when their spaceship departs from Halley's Comet every 76 years when it's in close enough proximity to Earth.
  • Sexy Silhouette: The Space Girl shows off her backside in shadow as she walks up the stairs.
  • Shapeshifting Seducer: The female space vampire doesn't change her form again onscreen after she settles on the shape of a beautiful girl, and she has a habit of walking around in the buff. She took this shape directly from the mind of Lt. Carlson, as the image of the girl is his conception of the perfect woman, and uses it to draw him to her and seduce him so she can use his lifeforce in her Evil Plan.
  • Soul Fragment: The Space Vampire gave a part of herself to Carlson in order to understand humanity, resulting in a telepathic connection.
  • This Was His True Form: When one of the male space vampires receives a metal stake through his chest courtesy of Colonel Caine, he turns back into his giant bat form as he dies.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Col Carlsen is a space vampire himself. At least that's what the Space Girl told him.
  • To Serve Man: The vampires are alien invaders who snack on human souls.
  • Touch Telepathy: Colonel Carlson can see into the mind of a human possessed by a space vampire when he touches them (or vice versa).
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Rather overtly literal, as Space Girl is practically a succubus. She seduces her victims with her otherworldly attraction, then devours their lifeforce in the process of making out with them.
  • Vampire's Harem: Inverted. The Space Girl Vampiress has two Pretty Boy vampires following her around; all three of them are constantly nude since they don't care about human conceptions of decency.
  • Vampiric Draining: Naturally.
  • The Virus: The majority of the population think there's a deadly plague with a two-hour gestation period loose in London. Though, the spread of the vampire zombie condition is similar to a virus that needs physical contact.
  • Whole Plot Reference: To Dracula. With a bit of H.P. Lovecraft's mythos as well.
  • Wooden Stake: Played with. The space vampires are vulnerable to iron stakes, and they have to be stabbed a few inches below the heart to actually kill them.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: The lifeforce that the vampires consume is strongly implied to be the human victims' actual souls.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: London seriously gets out of control towards the end.

Alternative Title(s): The Space Vampires