Picks and Pans Review: Lifeforce

updated 07/15/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/15/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Anyone noting that this film was directed by Tobe Hooper, whose credits include The Texas Chain-saw Massacre and Poltergeist, will not expect Life-force to be Little Women. Hooper has, though, developed a reputation for doing things with style-however brutal and frenetic—and that's one thing lacking in this film about invaders from space trying to siphon off humanity's vitality. Some of its special effects, by John (Star Wars) Dykstra, are flashy—notably inside the aliens' spacecraft—but the light-show excesses become reminiscent of Ghostbusters. The plot, in which an Earth space mission brings back hostile creatures to England, will remind horror buffs of The Creeping Unknown, a dreary 1956 movie starring Brian Donlevy. The acting, by Steve (The Stunt Man) Railsback as a returned astronaut and Peter (Tess) Firth as a British security officer, will remind bank tellers of people milling around in line waiting to cash their paychecks. The life-draining proclivities of the aliens lead to a vampirish subplot, which would have opened the way for clever jokes if Dan O'Bannon and Don Jacoby's script had even a drop of wit. Hooper tries to get mileage out of parading newcomer Mathilda May around nude. But May, like the cadaverous extras, gets tiresome. It would have been better to have more transfusions of energy offscreen and fewer on. (R)

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