Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Check one off the list

In a post I wrote earlier this year about confronting our cinematic fears, I wrote that I still cherished a primal fear I felt when watching the trailer to Lifeforce back in 1985. I was able to cherish that fear primarily because I still had not seen the movie. Watching it would, of course, reveal it to be some cheesy movie from the 1980s with as little power to scare me as Teen Wolf.


In fact, this alternate poster I found for Lifeforce is about the scariest thing in the movie. There are some decent animatronic effects (considering it was 1985), and there are more than a couple decent shots and camera angles. A couple of the shots of one creature sucking the titular "substance" out of another were a tad spooky. But overall, for being a movie about vampires from space, it was pretty boring. If I had watched in 1985, however, I would have absolutely loved the high boob quotient. (Not that I don't still like boobs, just that I don't watch movie solely to see them.)

It was a perilous decision to push it to the top of my queue. After all, its potential to be scary was always more powerful than how scary it could ever really be. In fact, there's often a certain disappointment to watching movies that we think will scare us. If they don't, not only is that a disappointment in and of itself, but it also diminishes by one the number of potentially scary movies we haven't seen. And yes, I do see that as two separate things.

When my guests and I got through watching on Saturday night, it was late, and we were all losing the battle against our droopy eyelids. But I decided to stay up long enough afterward to watch the trailer, one of the DVD extras. Consider it one last attempt to recreate that indescribable horror I'd felt as a child.

Nope. Not only was the trailer itself not very scary, but it couldn't have been the one I saw, since the main naked vampire woman (Mathilda May) proudly displayed her naked vampire boobs. I'm pretty sure I saw the trailer on TV, and even if I hadn't, I think I would have remembered seeing boobs in a trailer. And then that's what I would have associated this trailer with, not with fear. Plus, the voiceover of the square announcer further removes it from the realm of something that could have scared me.

Oh well.

Where shall I turn now? What film I haven't seen will fill that quotient for potential terror?

Well, I still haven't seen Gorky Park. That's another trailer I remember having quite an effect on me, for some unknown reason. When I watched it at the drive-in in Cali, Colombia, where I was visiting a Colombian family who had returned home after a couple years living in my hometown, I remember being chilled -- quite literally -- by the dead bodies in the Russian snow. And that the title was pronounced something like "Gerk-way Park-way" in Spanish.

But looking it up now, I discover that it isn't even a horror -- rather, a detective movie.

Time to dig a little deeper ...


Lord Vader said...

Oh, Vance. If only you'd seen "Lifeforce" at the age of 15, as I did. I saw it once a week for its ENTIRE theatrical run (that's right, I went to see it three times) and believed it was robbed at the Oscars.

Vancetastic said...

I'm curious whether you've revisited. I don't think it was bad at all, just not as scary as I'd hoped. But, given my 24 years of hyping it up in my head, it never could have been.

Lord Vader said...

Oh, I've revisited - I have the DVD. I adore this film, even though it's hysterically bad in places. Tobe Hooper said in interviews at the time that his intention was to make a 50s Hammer style sci-fi/horror. I think the biggest problem the film has is that he was TOO successful - apart from the high tech visual effects and OTT gore, the film is almost indistinguishable from the sort of film which would have been made three decades earlier.

As a side note, the fabulous score by Henry Mancini was, and remains, one of my all time favourites. To most people Mancini means Moon River or Peter Gunn, to me he means "Lifeforce"!