Stripping Back The Artichoke: The Making of “Lifeforce”

lifeforce japan poster

“Their instruments picked up the massive outline long before they saw it. That was to be expected. What baffled Carlsen was that, even when they were a thousand miles away, and the braking rockets had cut their speed to seven hundred miles an hour, it was still invisible.”

So began phenomenological existentialist Colin Wilson’s take on the vampire legend. Not blood suckers, but soul takers. Published in 1976, it was to become, beyond The Outsider, The Mind Parasites and The Philosopher’s Stone, Wilson’s best known work of fiction. This was due in no small part to the fact the novel was transferred into a multi-million dollar movie most people, the author himself included, considered to be one of the biggest turkeys of the 1980’s. A film The Aurum Film Encyclopedia of Science Fiction called “a truly bad movie.”

On February 6th, 1984, principal photography commenced in London at Elstree Studios on Cannon Films’ most expensive production to date; Tobe Hooper’s Hammeresque inspired piece of vampiric sci-fi Gothic horror apocalyptic lunacy The Space Vampires. First announced in Variety on May 7th, 1980, the film was originally slated to be directed by Zoltan Persic, the SPFX expert responsible for making the world believe a man could fly in Richard Donner’s Superman. Unhappy, however, with the quality of the scripts being produced – as Wilson’s storyline proved hard to adapt cinematically – it took Cannon another three years and numerous writers and directors, including in-house director Michael Winner, before they felt comfortable to green-light the production. Cannon’s head honchos, Go-Go Boys Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, finally settling upon Texas born horror director Tobe Hooper, who was still smarting from the fall-out over who actually directed the Steven Spielberg produced mega-hit Poltergeist, Hooper having taken three years off to regroup, only directing two music video’s in the interim. But now, here he was with a three picture deal, freshly signed by one of the “smartest” and biggest independent film companies on the LA scene, and a project he felt passionate about. And the notorious director of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was certainly ready to make the biggest film of his career thus far; and prove that Poltergeist wasn’t a fluke, and that its success wasn’t completely due to that overrated golden boy Spielberg….

You can read the full article by Chris O’Loughlin on the making of Lifeforce in issue 2 of Space Monsters magazine.

Print version available from CLASSIC HORROR CAMPAIGN.

Digital version available from DEAD GOOD NEWSSTAND.

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LIFEFORCE2 Ash cartoon

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