Tobe Hooper had a long career and is still talked about reverently on the film podcasts I listen to, but I’d only seen his greatest hits — The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Poltergeist, and The Funhouse. But where to start with his other films… naked space vampires hidden in Halley‘s Comet, you say? I’m in!
Colonel Tom Carlsen is the only survivor of a science expedition into the tail of Halley’s Comet that discovered an alien spaceship inside it holding three humanoid aliens encased in glass. The aliens seem unharmed and are taken to a UK army facility. The female breaks free and escapes into the countryside, so the British government bring in Colonel Colin Caine to work with Carlsen, who seems to have a psychic connection with the alien woman, to track her down. The alien spacecraft leaves the comet and approaches Earth, and the aliens plan for humankind soon becomes clear.
Like The Quatermass Experiment, astronauts bring alien life home with them, but Lifeforce looks like it had a big budget, with lots of guns, explosions, London in flames, hundreds of zombie-like extras running around, army units, helicopters, the whole shebang. It looks amazing. The Space Girl (!) walks around naked for the first half of the film, coolly dispatching all who attempt to stop her by sucking psychic energy from her victims.
Carlsen is both her strength and her vulnerability. There’s a whole explanation of how she’s shape-shifted to appear as his idealised woman, and his unhinged behaviour in her presence is an amusing manifestation of how it feels to be in love in that crazy way where the other person isn’t seen as real — in this case, a seven-foot tall bat creature.