The film is a mess from start to finish with several main characters who appear and disappear throughout. No character development, no thematic development, no narrative development. No life. No force. No dice.
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What are critics saying?
Watching Lifeforce now is to be reminded that even big-budget films were once allowed to be adventurous and idiosyncratic, even in the 1980s, and that American horror movies were once capable of being fun, sexy, and subversively empathetic.
Director Tobe Hooper seriously overplays his hand, losing the shape of this 1985 film in a barrage of overblown special effects and screaming Dolby stereo.
In film circles there's a name for pictures like Lifeforce. Film Comment magazine has dubbed them guilty pleasures, movies you're embarrassed to admit you like. Maybe somebody spiked my popcorn, but I can't deny that I liked Lifeforce.
Lifeforce shows off Mr. Hooper's way with a whirling mass of protoplasm, just as Poltergeist did. But its style is shrill and fragmented enough to turn Lifeforce into hysterical vampire porn.
The screenplay, by Dan O'Bannon and Don Jakoby, is just one long passage of exposition: someone blows up or dries up or whatever, you wonder why that's happening, and then someone explains it. This they call suspense. [25 June 1985, p.C8]
Lifeforce is a near-impossible film to review, at once indescribably awful and hugely, brilliantly entertaining.