Film (1985). Cannon. Directed by Tobe Hooper. Written by Dan O'Bannon, Don Jakoby, based on The Space Vampires (1976) by Colin Wilson. Cast includes Frank Finlay, Peter Firth, Mathilda May, Steve Railsback and Patrick Stewart. 101 minutes. Colour.
Astronauts exploring Halley's Comet discover three humanoid Alien bodies in suspended animation in crystal containers in a derelict alien Spaceship, and recover them. All but one of the astronauts die; the strange bodies awaken back in London, and prove to be Shapeshifting vampiric lifeforms (see Vampires) which, by sucking the lifeforce from people, turn them into withered Zombies who themselves can pass on the zombie infection. Soon London becomes a zombie city. The narrative borders on incoherence, non-sequiturs abound, and the film is a melodramatic travesty, especially the performance of Finlay as a "thanatologist" (student of death). And yet it has its virtues. John Dykstra, famous for his work in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), produces arresting special effects, and Hooper, best known for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), directs with an intensity verging on the hysterical. The film, though a mess (partly through being based on Wilson's heavily philosophical but muddled novel), is original and, despite all the zombies, avoids Clichés. May's nude performance as the female alien is striking. [PN]
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