Year: 1985

Production: Cannon

Director: Tobe Hooper

Starring: Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart

Screenwriter: Dan O'Bannon, Don Jakoby

Based on The Space Vampires (1976) by Colin Wilson

101 minutes; Color

Astronauts exploring Halley's Comet discover three humanoid alien bodies in suspended animation in crystal containers in a derelict alien spacecraft, and recover them. All but one of the astronauts die; the strange bodies awaken back in London, and prove to be shapeshifting vampiric lifeforms 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 Finley as a "thanatologist" (student of death). And yet it has its virtues. John Dykstra, famous for his work in Star Wars (1977), produces arresting special effects, and Hooper, best know 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 orignial and, despite all the zombies, avoids cliche. Mary's nude performance as the female alien is striking.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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