Sir Halley Only WISHES His Comet Were This Exciting:
"In the blink of an eye, the terror begins."
Starring Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, and Frank Finlay
Written by Colin Wilson, Dan O'Bannon, and Don Jakoby
Directed by Tobe Hooper
1985. The year of Halley's Comet, returning from a 76-year long absence for a show in late 1985/early 1986. It was also the year that Yoram Globus and Menaham Golan decided to cash in on the comet by making a (relatively) big budget horror/sci-fi movie about space vampires that has a dash of nudity, a splash of weird gore, and decent special effects. Unfortunately, like real-life comets, the movie starts out in a blaze of glory but dies a whimpery death about an hour into the film, leaving the final 30-40 minutes wandering and confused. Let me tell you, this movie certainly sucked the life out of me.
Right away, we learn that this is a Cannon Films production.
I smiled. I've seen Alien from L.A. and, unfortunately, Breakin', so I'm somewhat familiar with the calibre of movie I'm dealing with. Anyway, we get to see the credits while an asteroid or something rolls behind them. I was listening for William Shatner to scream "KHAAAAAAAAN!" After the credits, we open with a caption.
August 9th - the space shuttle ChurchillNext, we get a shot of a space shuttle. You're telling me a simple space shuttle is going to make a major voyage to a comet? I checked this all out, and during the comet's encounter, the comet and Earth were on opposite sides of the Sun. This means that they would have to have left Earth months in advance to get there, and then spend months coming back to Earth. That's a lot of supplies to stuff into a space shuttle. The shuttle is equipped with long solar panels and a blue thruster on its underside. It's approaching a big green comet, which looks really bright. I've seen Hale-Bopp, supposedly the brightest comet in a very long time. It was a smudge in the sky. This comet is a comparative fireball.
a joint British American team
is on a mission to approach
and study Halley's Comet.
The Churchill is on course and on schedule
for its rendezvous.
Inside the approaching shuttle, the crew notes that they've found an unusual object on radar. It appears to be a tall, thin tower on or near the nucleus of the comet. It's supposedly two miles long, and they use imperial for the measurement for the benefit of American audiences, I guess. The captain, Colonel Carlsen (Steve Railsback), orders that they radio their findings back to Earth, but they can't. According to their radio operator, "coma winds" are obscuring their transmissions. I asked someone about this, and there are no winds in the coma of a comet. Many probes have gone right up to the nucleus, and sent back pictures to Earth with no problem. Right away, this movie...
Fig. 1 - Comet Structure.
But, I'm forgiving. I'll let that go, as it's not important. We see a shot of the shuttle inside the tail of the comet and thus surrounded with a greenish haze. The unidentified object is visible ahead as a white spike on the side of a whitish blob.
Carlsen is determined to explore the object now, since the comet won't come back for 76 years. Pesky comet.
The shuttle moves closer to it, retracting its solar panels and shutting down the engine that has been continuously firing so far. It flies along the axis of this very large spaceship.
A little later, a few astronauts leave the shuttle in space suits and somehow gain entry into the ship. They fly around different chambers, and the whole interior is sort of organic looking, like we're inside an esophagus. Carlsen is amazed.
They enter another chamber, and find a cluster of huge bats floating there, with their wings spread. They don't move. The crew approaches, and find them to be completely dried up. In fact, one guy even breaks the finger off a bat. The vacuum dried them out. They take out a "specimen bag" which is in reality a very large net, and throw it around the bat. Did they go to this comet expecting to find giant alien bats?
The crew in the shuttle listen to the radio with rapt attention, but they are distracted when the large alien ship starts moving. It looks like it's opening a large umbrella near the shuttle.
Meanwhile, a bright blue light appears in the spaceship near the astronauts.
The umbrella-like structure has opened outside, but it appears to do nothing.
The astronauts head for the blue light, and into a new chamber. This one has a crystalline wall, with three of them larger than the rest and illuminated. Inside these crystals are three "perfect" human bodies, one female, and two male. The astronauts are, naturally, confused and amazed. Carlsen seems to be hypnotized by the female (and who wouldn't be, as she is quite beautiful), and says that something is happening to him. The astronauts tend to ignore the male bodies, and are fixated on the female one. The shuttle is calling, but Carlsen is hypnotized. Then the shuttle loses the picture, but Carlsen describes her as "perfect." Carlsen decides to bring all three of them back with them. They set about trying to free their crystalline containers.
Next, we're confronted with a shot of the Churchill tumbling slowly out of the comet, which is in the background. It nears the Earth.
We cut to British Mission Control, which is calling Churchill but not getting any response. The head of mission control, a man named Bukovsky is watching TV. A second space shuttle, Columbia, is lifting off to intercept Churchill.
The shuttles meet in orbit. This movie has more space shuttle action than Moontrap. It must be a hit over at NASA. Columbia has to dock with Churchill, which is tumbling. Wouldn't this make docking impossible? I guess not, because a soft docking occurs.
Fig. 2 - The two shuttles.
Two rescue astronauts cross the threshold, and enter Churchill. The lights are out, and the walls look scorched from a fire. In short, the shuttle has been gutted. The rescuers look around all of the compartments. The air is dusty. Finally, they find some of the crew. They look desiccated. Their skins are sunken in and they look like they're starting to decompose. They also find the three aliens in their containers, still asleep.
Now we're back on Earth, at the European Space Research Centre in London. Bukovsky is again watching television in his office. On one monitor, he sees the lab where the female alien is lying. On another TV, he's watching the news. The anchorman talks about Comet Halley being so close to Earth, and how comets were often associated in history with fear and evil. Do you smell trouble brewing with regards to the aliens? The Churchill is mentioned, but no new news is coming out about that topic.
In the lab, a man in an isolation suit looks over the space girl on the table. He is alone. Now, I figure that finding a humanoid on a spaceship that's near a comet is a pretty important scientific discovery. Where are all the scientists, doctors, and military types that would be surrounding her and studying her? This is an attack of Moontrap syndrome. Anyway, there's some tense music, and the man stares at the girl and then gently touches her. Her eyes open, and she sits up nude, the first of many full-frontal scenes in this film on her part. Next, she gets up, and somehow hypnotizes the man.
Fig. 3 - The female alien.
Bukovsky sees this on his monitor, and is alarmed. She looks like she's going to kiss the man, and Bukovsky runs out of his office (to watch, perhaps).
The space girl kisses the man, and all the lights in the room flicker and go out. Weird arcs of electricity are exchanged between the two, and it becomes apparent that the girl is sucking the lifeforce out of the man, hence the title of the movie. Meanwhile, Bukovsky rushes to get there, and runs through four strangely placed glass doors to get there, adding 8 long seconds to his transit time. Who designed this place? He arrives on the scene, and finds the man looking desiccated, yet still alive. He looks like the dead astronauts from the Churchill. The girl then hypnotizes Bukovsky.
Meanwhile, a guy who looks like Jorell in the first Superman movie (Frank Finlay) sees what's happening from Bukovsky's office, and calls for police. By the time they get there, they find Bukovsky sitting there looking okay, and the drained man lying dead. The Jorell-lookalike, Dr. Fallada, calls for more security. The space girl is not there and has escaped.
The girl climbs through a stairwell stark naked, and walks by a guard who lets her walk past out of sheer shock. He radios other guards and alerts them that a naked woman will be at their position. They don't believe him, but sure enough, she appears, and they threaten her to stay back. I was asking myself just one question: this is a government-run space agency compound. WHERE IS EVERYBODY??!! I've counted all of seven people in this building. The guards alert Dr. Fallada. One guard tries giving the alien a candy bar, but she waves her hand and stuns the guards, paralysing them or something. The remaining guard is terrified and lets her walk by. This is where a gun would come in handy, but never mind.
Fallada is in an elevator on his way to assess the situation.
The alien woman smashes windows and doors with her powers, and walks out of the building into the night. Fallada watches her go. Talk about not putting up a fight! This was so ridiculous, I wanted to jump in the movie and slap these people for sheer incompetence.
Soon after, police cars and members of the press have swarmed the building and surrounding area. Enter Colonel Caine (Peter Firth), from SAS, the British equivalent of the Special Forces. Caine looks like a detective type. The first thing he does is confiscate cameras from some photographers, and then he gets shown around by Bukovsky, who himself seems to be okay. Caine is shown the drained man's body.
Fig. 4 - From left to right, Dr. Fallada, Colonel Caine, and Bukovsky.
We cut to another lab. There are many somewhat erratic cuts in this movie, perhaps to keep it moving before it has to think too much about what it's about. Bukovsky is feeling ill from recent events and is excused. Fallada and Caine talk about stuff. Fallada is a biochemist, but his specialty is the study of death. He believes there is an afterlife, that the lifeforce in people is conserved. He believes that the space girl drained it partially from Bukovsky and totally from the drained man. This makes her rather dangerous. Yeah.
Elsewhere in the building, armed military guards are watching the two male space aliens. Because they're male, and the director, writers, and producers are male, we won't be seeing much of these two. They're still asleep on beds in an isolated booth. A second guard arrives, and both of them seem a little afraid of the aliens. Like before, these two are the only two watching the aliens. No one else is around.
Suddenly, the glass explodes, and the aliens are up and about. There are explosions around them, and they slowly make their way out. The guards shoot them, but bullets do nothing. The aliens continue their advance. In a last ditch effort to contain them, they throw a grenade at them, and that does the truck. They blowed up real good! Unfortunately, that was off camera.
Fallada and Caine rush to the scene, and see that everything is okay, except for the blown up aliens.
Now it's autopsy time. Surgeons and pathologists stand over the desiccated remains of the drained victim. Just as they are to begin, the victim's eyes open, and he sits up, making weird sounds. The make up effects aren't bad, but it looks a little... plastic to me. Somehow, he hypnotizes the chief pathologist, and the pathologist moves forward. Thus begins the lifeforce transfer, streams of blue light flowing from the pathologist's face to the victim's face.
Fig. 5 - Lifeforce transfer
The lights go out and the other doctors are huddled in the corners, watching with terror. The pathologist starts looking desiccated, while the victim's face starts filling out. Finally, it's over. The pathologist collapses, and the victim, who now looks normal again, stands and screams in fear and confusion. The other doctors prepare to sedate him. Fallada arrives, and orders the victim isolated. The victim is taken out of there screaming. Fallada checks his watch, and guesses at a two-hour long incubation period. He orders every person who has lost their lifeforce at one point into isolation, along with the remains of the two alien men. Then they get a call on the radio. A dead woman was found in Hyde Park.
Now we're in Hyde Park (of course.) A dead human female is lying on the grass, surrounded with police tape, and she's desiccated. Two boys saw her before she died, and they also saw the alien girl walking naked through the park shortly thereafter. They tell us this and also tell us that they had a goofy hope of some lesbian action between the two women. Unfortunately, they don't know where the space girl is now. They take the dead woman and put her in isolation.
Now we've jumped back to the Space Centre. It's been two hours since the pathologist was drained, and now the first victim is hungry again. Fallada escorts Caine and Home Secretary Sir Percy Heseltine through some sort of dungeon that every good space centre has in the basement. In a cage sits the first victim, who's throwing things around and shouting. He's in pain, and tries getting out, reaching through the bars. He then sits back, still in pain, and appears to dry out again. He then dies, and Fallada pokes his body with a stick. It crumbles. He's dead for good now, and Fallada starts figuring out things. Once you've lost your lifeforce, you wake up two hours later and steal someone else's. Then, every two hours after that, you need another, or else you die. They then check on the pathologist, who is in the same antsy state but looking skeletal. He eventually runs right at the bars of his cage, and blows up in a puff of dust and small pieces on impact. That was cool!
We cut to another lab, where the female victim from the park is lying strapped to a table. Fallada, Caine, Heseltine, and others are watching through the glass. The victim wakes up and thrashes around to get out from the straps. She too makes weird sounds. Health monitors around her come to life with pulse and neural activity and all that stuff.
Fig. 6 - The female victim.
She thrashes and bonks her head back against the table. The machines blow up around her. She dies again, and lies on the table for a moment before exploding in a cloud of brownish dust. Again I say that was cool! Everyone is horrified. There are no more reports of the space girl killing anyone else.
Bukovsky comes in with news from JPL in the United States. An escape pod from the Churchill landed in Texas. Who knew the space shuttle had escape pods.
We are shown a brief scene in a violent nighttime thunderstorm. The thunder doesn't sound like thunder at all. Men with flashlights run through a field to recover the escape pod. They pop the hatch, and find Colonel Carlsen huddled inside.
Carlsen is brought to London to tell his story. He meets Bukovsky, Fallada, and Caine at the Space Centre. Carlsen is brought up to speed with everything we know so far: a fire aboard Churchill, and three alien bodies that have now escaped or been destroyed. Carlsen tells them that he found the bodies aboard a ship on or near Halley's Comet. Then he talks about how they brought the bodies aboard their shuttle.
Buck up, for now we go into a flashback aboard the Churchill.
The bodies are lying in a cargo hold, and the crew is looking them over (and at the female in particular). One guy says he feels "drained", but Carlsen says he's invigorated and excited at what's been happening. At this point, I'm asking where the gravity is coming from aboard their shuttle.
As they returned to Earth, the crew began dying. First to go was their radio operator, who we see smashing the controls, and then later denying that he did it during an ad hoc interrogation. The next day, the radio man was found desiccated. One by one, the rest of the crew died in a similar fashion, except for Carlsen. He believes it was an act of will. He doesn't really remember.
At the end of the voyage, when Earth loomed outside the shuttle's window, Carlsen decided to try and destroy the bodies to prevent them being released on Earth. We see quick shots of him walking through the shuttle, pulling down on levers. Where the heck is that gravity coming from? As you can guess, that detail bugs me. Anyway, these levers make hissing sounds once pulled. He pulls a lot of them, and then sets a fire in the cargo hold, underneath the giant bat they have in the net. Then he climbs into an Apollo-style escape capsule, which sits in a room. Good gravy, how large is this space shuttle? Surely it's not a regular one. The fire blows up in the cargo hold, and somehow (we don't see this), the pod is ejected and Carlsen drops down to Earth.
We can breathe easy now, the flashback is over.
Carlsen admits it was a tough thing to do, because a part of him didn't want to leave the girl. All she did was kill the crew. They let the tired captain sleep, and they thank him.
Carlsen doesn't sleep too well.
Meanwhile, across the pond, scientists at NASA (and we know it's NASA because the room has the word NASA painted on the wall) have spotted the alien ship approaching Earth. Uh oh, I smell real trouble coming.
Now we're seeing Carlsen try to sleep again. He wakes up from a bad dream and jumps up. Then there's an explosion from the wall, and a huge bat flies into the now red room. It becomes the alien girl. She takes off his shirt, and he lays back. She then, of course, removes her own shirt and bares her breasts once more. This T&A break is courtesy of Messers. Golan and Globus. She says she's taking his lifeforce, but he doesn't seem to mind too much. They make out a bit, but we don't see any weird arcs of electricity or power outages. Finally, she tells us it's a dream, and he says she's taking too much from him. Right about here, the first cracks start forming in this already fragile plot.
He screams and wakes up from that dream. Only 3.6 seconds later, Fallada and Caine burst in as if they were waiting just outside the door. Carlsen says the girl visited his mind, and is able to make mental contact with him. They ask him to recall the dream, but he's forgotten it. Fallada suggests hypnosis to help him remember stuff. I guess hypnosis is a recognized branch of biochemistry.
So, Fallada hypnotizes Carlsen, and questions him. The space girl talks to Carlsen through his dreams, and he feels "very close to her," as if his mind isn't entirely his. In a rather tedious and confusing scene, we learn that the space girl has somehow changed form. We even get to see her walking through a bleak-looking field in a poncho. She's now a redhead.
Fig. 7 - The space girl's new form.
She's looking for a man to drain, but not to kill. Her new name is Ellen, and she finds a man outside a parked car. Through Carlsen, Caine determines the license plate of the man's car: FMC 129R. Also, he gets a description of the car. Carlsen and we see Ellen get into the car with the man, and drive off. During the drive, he's staring at her and she's pulling up her skirt.
Caine makes a call to the police to look for this car. Meanwhile Bukovsky comes in, and they figure out that the space girl can move from body to body like a ghost. Okay, that's an important PLOT POINT!!
We cut to a shot of the comet over the Parliament buildings. There are some vampirized humans laying about in alleys, clawing along like zombies.
Fallada is now on the phone, asking to study some of the pieces of the two blown up male aliens. He examines them under a microscope, when a soldier enters. It's one of the soldiers who blew up the male aliens, but now he smiles at Fallada and looks evil. MWAHAHA!!!
Caine and Heseltine (that government guy) track down the car, and hold the man in detention. He appears to be okay. He claims he dropped Ellen off at an asylum, so everyone heads there.
Next, we see the aforementioned asylum, and the gang arrives by helicopter because it's a more dynamic entrance. Caine, Heseltine, and Carlsen are dropped off, and met by Dr. Armstrong, head of the hospital. Playing Dr. Armstrong is Patrick Stewart! Captain Picard!
Fig. 8 - Dr. Armstrong.
Armstrong escorts them to Ellen's room. If she's a known patient, why was she let out to walk around? They meet Ellen, and she seems human enough. By that, she's fully dressed, and she speaks to them. They ask her about the man, but she says she doesn't remember that. Carlsen asks to see her hand, and struggles briefly with Ellen as he tries to talk to the alien which he thinks is inside of her. He tells us that the alien is no longer there, but then he proceeds to shout at the alien which isn't there to "let go." He then kisses Ellen, and she faints. WTF just happened? And why does Carlsen shout so much? We are now 56 minutes into the movie, and seeing major structural failures here.
Carlsen and Caine leave the room, and ask Picard (sorry, Armstrong) to see a fat man with a birthmark on his face. According to Carlsen (via Ellen), this person now has the alien inside. Armstrong is confused as the only person in the asylum who fits this description is a severely retarded child killer. Nevertheless, he arranges the meeting.
We cut to a doctor preparing a syringe filled with a solution to induce a hypnotic state. Armstrong wants to know what's happening, but Heseltine tells him it's a national security issue and cannot be discussed. Carlsen and Caine plan to hypnotize the new host.
With drugs ready, they enter the cell. The fat man is lying on a cot in a straightjacket. However, they suddenly grab Armstrong and inject him. You see, Armstrong is the one with the alien inside. I have to admit, that twist surprised me a bit. They stick Armstrong into a wheelchair (now he's Professor Xavier!) and wheel him into an interrogation room. Carlsen says he figured out Armstrong had the alien when he patted Carlsen on the back. If the host touches Carlsen, Carlsen can see the alien inside. Heseltine is nervous, wondering why the alien just doesn't jump into someone else, but Carlsen assures us that while Armstrong is drugged, the alien is trapped there. He asks for another dose, to make sure Armstrong stays under. Armstrong screams, but gets a second dose. Then the alien talks through Armstrong with a female voice, saying that there's no need for the drugs. Then Carlsen says that he can't get into her mind because of the drugs. He demands to talk to her, and he sees her naked on the table instead of Armstrong. She says that she loves him, and that their bodies are unimportant. They created for themselves perfect bodies, derived from the mental ideals held by the crew of the Churchill. She then somehow seizes Carlsen's mind, and he shouts (again) for her to let go of him. There are some light effects in the room, and she attempts to leave Armstrong. Furniture starts flying around the room, and the lights flash on and off. Caine drugs Armstrong a third time, and the chaos dies down. However, Carlsen says it's too late, and she's escaped or still escaping. By now, I'm a bit confused. Too many ground rules are thrown at the audience at once. A doctor alerts the others that Heseltine broke his neck during the ruckus. Finally, Caine realizes that the other two male aliens must have done the same before they were blown up, and are still in London. This whole thing has been a diversion.
And we see the results of the ineptitude. Vampirized humans are running around the streets, chasing regular people around. There's screaming, running, and general chaos.
The helicopter is heading back to London, with Armstrong on board. Caine gets a radio call from Fallada, who has some interesting news. The two male aliens didn't die, but entered the bodies of the two guards who blew them up. Fallada goes on to hypothesize that the original vampire legend was derived from the periodic visits of these aliens, and that they've been on Earth before. He then has some useful information. The aliens can be killed if they are impaled with "leaded iron" through their "energy centre", two inches below the heart.
Meanwhile, the alien girl escapes Armstrong. However, she escapes in a new way. We see a cheap model of Armstrong's head and shoulders, and it's vomiting blood.
Fig. 9 - Armstrong and his blood
Carlsen opened the girl's cell in the cargo hold, claiming that he was "in love in a level you've never known." Oh yeah, I've felt that too. They kissed, and shared lifeforce. A good way to spread cooties, I'm sure ;) He claims that she "chose him." Hoohaw, does Carlsen have an ego or what?
The flashback ends, and we hear a BBC bulletin over the radio. London is in trouble, with people rampaging about. There are also explosions in the city.
Fig. 10 - London.
We see scenes of lifeforces flying around as blue streaks of light, blowing stuff up. People are running, screaming, and draining others.
The helicopter lands, and Caine and Carlsen get out. Armstrong and Heseltine are carried away. Caine and Carlsen head into a waiting room, where the Prime Minister is waiting to see them. They sit down, but the PM enters looking quite frazzled. He seems to be in a hurry, but before he can meet Caine and Carlsen to discuss things, he must retreat into his office with his secretary. Uh oh. Naturally, the PM has been vampirized and drains the secretary. Caine and Carlsen leave quickly, and return to the helicopter. It takes off, but vampirized soldiers grab on to the skids and hang on. One falls off, but the other requires a flare be fired at him before he lets go.
The pilot reports the city is under martial law, and NATO is in charge. Great, some guy in Brussels is determining what will happen in London? Caine and Carlsen ask to be flown to see Fallada, but the pilot has orders to land at a base across the river, one that's safe from the "plague", as it's being called by the authorities. They land, and Caine and Carlsen are left in a cage for two hours' quarantine. They ask to at least see Dr. Fallada, but the guards there haven't heard of him.
Two hours later, they find out London has been isolated, and NATO will use thermonuclear weapons to sterilize the area in three hours. In space, the alien ship has placed itself in a geostationary orbit directly above London. I happen to know that this is impossible. It can't be directly above London in a geostationary orbit. Oh well, it's a small point. We get a brief shot of the ship, lit up with souls it has seemingly collected.
Caine and Carlsen walk through the new base, looking across the river at London. A beam of blue light shoots up from the city into the night sky. Souls are being transmitted into the ship, which collects them. Carlsen can feel it. Whose side is he on?!
We cut to a city street. A large light moves, presumably the remaining male alien. It steals souls from vampirized humans. I guess you at the bottom get a little bit of lifeforce, give it to the alien at the top, and never get any of it back in the end. Just like a pyramid scam, or the Canadian Pension Plan. ZING! Anyway, the vampirized humans seem to die when the alien passes over them. The alien then sends what he's collected to the female, who transmits it all to the ship. In fact, Carlsen knows where she is. She's lying on an altar in a crypt under a cathedral. He hears her calling telepathically. She wants back the little bit of lifeforce that she shared with him. Oh, so these aliens are Indian givers? Apparently, she gave up some of her life in exchange for his so she could learn about our species (?) and now she wants it back.
The army coordinates the effort. What this effort is, I don't know. Caine tells them that there are two carriers that need to be destroyed, but there are only ninety minutes before the nukes arrive. We hear some gunshots, and learn that Carlsen stole a jeep so he could drive into the city and meet Dr. Fallada, who must have holed himself up in the Space Centre. Caine takes a gun and another jeep, and follows Carlsen into London.
Caine drives and drives, past vampires who all run at him, follow him, and scream.
Meanwhile, Carlsen hears the girl's voice in his head and hones in on her position. He drives past fires and wrecked cars. He can see her, as well as hear her. A vampire almost gets him, and they pile themselves on his car. He manages to get them off, but a severed arm almost tears his face off. This time, it really was the one-armed man.
Caine keeps driving.
Finally, Carlsen arrives at the source of the beam, a bombed-out looking cathedral. He drives forward to the entrance, and gets out of the vehicle. The stairs leading up to the doors are just covered with dead and dying human bodies. Another case of festival seating gone wrong.
Caine finds Fallada in the Space Centre. Fallada is standing at the window, watching London burn outside. The dead soldier/alien is on the table, with a long spear sticking out of his chest. Caine asks if he's okay, and Fallada announces that there is life after death. He also senses that Carlsen is after the girl and not him, which is what Caine thought. Red flags must be going up at this point, as Fallada turns to the camera and looks evil. He's been vampirized. Caine shoots Fallada below his heart, and he dries up and falls dead. His lifeforce then bursts out of his body, smashes the window, and flies away to join the beam up to the spaceship. Caine pulls the stake from the dead soldier, and leaves the room. At the entrance to the Space Centre, he confronts some of the vampires, and notes that his jeep has been blown up.
Carlsen finds the girl, lying in a crypt on an altar that's enveloped in blue light. She says she knew he would come. He opens the gate around the altar, and she sits up. He walks up to her.
Fig. 11 - The space girl on the altar.
"I'm here. Now can this madness end?"She says she wants to be with him, that she needs him.
"It was always intended that you should find us and bring us to Earth."Huh? Is she a Calvinist? Wait, it gets better:
"The web of destiny carries your blood and soul back to the genesis of my lifeform."WTF? Talk about meaningless words, what is she saying here?
She then stands upon the altar, with her arms raised up.
Caine runs through the streets, chased by mobs of vampires who want his fresh lifeforce. There are explosions.
The girl stands in the light, still sending lifeforces up. Carlsen walks closer.
Caine avoids more vampires, and runs into an alley. A suspiciously well-timed collapse saves him from their clutches, and he blows the head off another vampire staggering around in front of him. He runs to a lamppost and the vampires seem to ignore him. Wait, I've seen this in cartoons, where Daffy Duck walks behind a lamppost and does not emerge from the other side. Yeah, that must be what Caine is doing.
The male alien flies through, appearing as a big blue ball of light, collecting lifeforces and killing most of the vampires in the area. Some of them stagger around on fire. Caine runs to the cathedral, and the male alien appears (fully clothed this time), with a blue beam running into him. Caine watches this for a moment, and then stabs him with the stake. He screams for 19.8 seconds, and then blows up and changes form. Now he looks like a gruesome alien bat thingy with big wings.
Fig. 12 - What the aliens actually look like.
Then he blows up for real and dies. Caine retrieves the stake and enters the cathedral. He finds the beam rising through a large hole in the floor. He peers down, and finds Carlsen and the alien girl in the beam together, both naked and making out.
Carlsen asks why he feels so "close" to her, and she says that he is, in fact, one of them. He has always been, and it's his destiny. See what I said earlier about a disintegrating plot? I was as confused as I've ever been. Caine calls down to them, but Carlsen initially ignores him. They go at it again, and Caine shouts some more. Carlsen looks up, and takes the stake. He then stabs both himself and the alien, and they're pinned together like meat on a kebab. She screams, and the beam turns red for a moment before cutting out entirely. Carlsen and the girl become a big ball of blue light which rushes up towards the spaceship, destroying the cathedral dome as they leave.
Aboard the spaceship, they arrive, and Carlsen and the girl are entombed in crystalline chambers. The ship pulls back from Earth and starts moving away. So, they're not dead?
Back on the ground, Caine looks up, surrounded by dead bodies all around the cathedral.
The umbrella on the ship is closed now, and it's flying away, past the moon and back to the comet, which is big and green still. We get the closing credits. I noted some people being credited as "mime artists", as well as erratic bolding of names in the credits, where some random crew names were left unbolded. Very strange.
Okay, here's what I think. I think the writers had a good idea, and it is rather original, I do admit. However, perhaps either due to time or budget constraints, they couldn't really consolidate their ideas and make a good movie out of it. You've now heard how the movie just comes to pieces towards the end, with gaping plot holes and unanswered questions, as well as a rather blunt ending. What happens to London, and all the dead bodies now? What will everyone do the next time the comet comes back? I believe that a rewrite of this movie could definitely salvage it and make it much better. And cast new people. Steve Railsback shouts too much. In almost every scene, he shouts at someone at least once.
I'm a stickler for science accuracy in movies. Now, I can forgive early movies about space travel because facts about conditions in space were simply unknown, but by 1986, we knew a lot more. For example, the Churchill had interior gravity. Now, we saw at the beginning of the film a solar-powered thruster that continuously fired. That could provide artificial gravity if the shuttle accelerated "upwards" from the vehicle's frame of reference. However, they shut this system down as they approach the comet and still there is interior gravity. Second, a giant space vessel would be needed to reach Halley's Comet due to poor geometry in the 1985/86 encounter with the Sun, yet they're flying in what looks like a space shuttle (it has been modified, given a second pair of wings towards the front). Now, you're probably saying "maybe it's a big shuttle, bigger than the ones we know." Well, I point out the scene in Bukovsky's office where we see stock footage of a real space shuttle takeoff used in the movie for Columbia's takeoff, so Columbia is a regular space shuttle. Columbia and Churchill are the same size, as shown in the orbital rescue scene... So what's happening? It would take months to reach Halley's comet, and months to get back. That's a lot of water, food, and air for a regular space shuttle to carry. Anyway, does Halley's Comet really warrant such a major undertaking? After all, in 1986, a flotilla of robotic probes examined the comet in detail.
UPDATE (July 25, 2004) - I've been informed that, if you watch the DVD version of Lifeforce, you can see that the Churchill is in fact somewhat longer than a regular space shuttle. Even the blue thruster on the underside of the shuttle, the so-called NERVA propulsion system, is a real technology. Read it all here. Kudos to the movie for this bit of research, and thanks to 'Rocket Ride' for correcting my mistake.Why was Patrick Stewart in this lowly movie? I like Mr. Stewart, I think he's a pretty good actor. I guess this was early in his career and he couldn't pick and choose much. I mean, just a few years before this he was in that confusing movie known as Dune. Actually, I liked Dune, so I shouldn't knock it. But that's only because I've read the book.
So, if you like actors who shout a lot, Patrick Stewart in a supporting role, or needless missions to comets, I recommend Lifeforce to you.
June 20, 2004
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