3 SciFi Movies From the 1980s

Lifeforce is a movie I had heard about for a few years before I finally got down to watching a couple of nights ago. Released in 1985 & directed by Tobe Hooper the movie is based on Colin Wilson’s 1976 novel Space Vampires. Featuring Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May, and Patrick Stewart! Yes Sir Patrick Stewart, who for the most of his screen time is under the influence of drugs and possessed! Anyways the movie is about a group of astronauts on board the space shuttle Churchill who while on a mission finds a 150 mile long alien spaceship hidden in the tail of Hailey’s Comet. The commanding office Colonel Tom Carlsen and some of his crew board the spaceship and find hundreds of dead bat like creatures, who appear to have shriveled and burnt and also find 3 humanoids in suspended animation – 2 male and 1 female, naked in glass coffins. The crew bring the containers back to the Chuchill and head back to earth.

However all goes wrong and the Churchill is found by a salvage crew to be damaged by fire and it’s internal components wrecked and the crew dead & burned with the exception of the 3 aliens. The aliens are brought to the European Space Research Centre in London but the female alien wakes up and drains the life force from a guard. She escapes the facility, causing some damage and goes out to drain more humans. Meanwhile Col. Carlsen is found in an escape pod and brought back to London. where he describes the course of events, culminating in the draining of the crew’s life force. Carlsen explains that he set fire to the shuttle with the intention of saving Earth from the same fate and escaped in the pod. He also has a physic link with the female alien and along with investigator Col. Colin Caine, traces the female to a psychiatric hospital in Yorkshire. They discover that the female alien can posses people – she has taken over the body of Dr Armstrong (Stewart) and the two drug him/her. While transporting Dr. Armstrong in a helicopter, the alien breaks free and disappears. As they reach London, they find that the 2 male vampires have woken and then proceed to transform most of London’s population into zombies.

Following contact with the male vampires, the victims turn into “living-dead” and seek out other humans in order to absorb their life force, thereby perpetuating the virus. The absorbed life force is collected by the male vampires and delivered to the female vampire, who transfers the accumulated energy to a waiting spaceship in Earth’s orbit. Carlsen then admits to Caine that, whilst on the shuttle, he felt compelled to open the female vampire’s container and to share his life force with her. She is later found lying upon a church’s altar, transferring the energy to her spaceship. Caine follows Carlsen into the church and is intercepted by the second male vampire, whom he dispatches. Carlsen manages to impale himself and the female alien simultaneously. However, the female vampire is only wounded and returns to her ship with Carlsen in tow, releasing a burst of energy. The two ascend the column of light that leads to the spaceship which then returns to the comet it came from. 6.5 out of 10!

Moontrap is a 1989 movie starring Walter Koenig (Chekov from Star Trek) and Bruce Campbell. The movie starts with the 1969 moon landing; just as the Apollo 11 crew leaves, a robotic eye emerges from the lunar soil and takes notice of the event before going back underground. Decades later the space shuttle Camelot, comes across a derelict alien ship and find a mummified corpse and a reddish brown pod in it.  Colonel Jason Grant & fellow astronaut Ray Tanner bring both back to earth where it is found that they originated on the Moon some fourteen thousand years ago. While  unattended the pod comes to life – building itself a body from parts found in the lab, forming a giant cyborg. The cyborg proceeds to kill a lab technician and exchanges fire with security guards before Grant destroys it with a shotgun blast to the head.

Getting permission to go back, Grant & Tanner go to the Moon on a search and destroy mission. After they land, they use the lunar buggy and find a huge complex and the remains of an ancient human civilization inside. They are able to resurrect a woman, Mera from suspended animation, who as she later explains, was put in stasis to warn others about the Kaalium – the alien killer cyborgs. Grant, Tanner & Mera, who uses her own spacesuit, head to the landing module but it is destroyed by the Kaalium before they can reach it.  In subsequent attacks by the Kaalium, Tanner is killed, Grant and Mera are taken prisoners, and the Kaalium head to Earth.

Grant is able to free himself & Mera from sure death at the hands of one of the cyborgs and look for the control room and find the landing module, which has been adapted into the alien machinery. The Kaalium are now heading to earth in their ship, sure to cause more destruction. He starts the module’s self-destruct sequence and, as they are attacked by a Kaalium crew member, discovers that he can use his gun as a rocket to get away. He and Mera exit through a breach in the hull, and the ship explodes after they have reached safe distance. Luckily for the two, the space shuttle Intrepid had been launched to intercept the alien vessel headed towards earth and they are rescued. Many months later, we find Grant & Mera living as husband & wife, with Mera having adjusted to earth life. Grant tells her that she does not have to worry anymore, that it is over, and hugs her. Little they know that one of the pods survived the explosion and is now on a junkyard building itself a new body. 6 out of 10!

Millenium is the 3rd of the movies I got from the 80s. Released in 1989 it’s directed by Michael Anderson and starring Kris Kristofferson, Cheryl Ladd, Robert Carver & Maury Chaykin. Based on the 1977 short story “Air Raid” by John Varley. A US passenger airline cockpit crew is hit from above by another airplane The pilot handles the airplane as well as he can while the flight engineer goes back to check on the passenger cabin but the two planes crash and are destroyed. Bill Smith heads the investigation to determine whether human error is the cause of a collision of two aircraft. They fine the black box and are stunned to hear the flight engineer screaming, “They’re dead! All of them! They’re burned up!” as he comes back into the cockpit. Smith and his team of investigators are confused by the words on the cockpit voice recorder because there had been no fire on board before the plane hit the ground.

Dr. Arnold Mayer, a theoretical physicist has a professional curiosity about the crash, which borders on science fiction. While giving a lecture, he talks about time travel and the possibility of visitors from the future. This proves to be the case. In a undetermined future we find that because of pollution, the human population of the future is no longer able to reproduce. This is why they have been abducting people from the past and keeping them in stasis until a future time when they will be sent into the far future. It is hoped that in this far future, the Earth will have recovered enough that humans can repopulate the planet. Time travelers are, in fact, visiting the present day and stealing passengers from doomed aircraft. Every incursion into the past causes an accompanying “timequake” whose magnitude is proportional to the effects of the incursion into the past. Each “timequake” causes physical damage in the time from which the incursion has been made. This is why they are abducting people who will not be able to affect the future any further and replacing them with copies of those who would have died. Thus, the co-pilot’s strange comment came because all the passengers had been replaced with pre-burned duplicates in preparation for the upcoming crash.

While on one of the missions, an operative is shot and loses a stun weapon on board a plane before it crashes. This weapon winds up in the possession of Dr. Arnold Mayer, setting him on the path to working out what’s happening. Twenty-five years later, Smith finds a similar artifact in the crash portrayed at the beginning of the film. Worried that these two individuals of the 20th century might change history by their discoveries, Louise Baltimore (Ladd) travels back to 1989 in order to distract Bill Smith and discourage him from pursuing his investigation further. Louise manages to gain Bill’s trust, as well as seduce him into a one-night stand, which she hopes will complete the distraction. However, because of still more errors on the part of the time travel team, as well as paradoxical events, Bill becomes even more suspicious. He soon pays a visit to Dr. Mayer. At that point, Louise materializes from the future and reveals her mission to both of them. In a mishap with the stun weapon, Mayer kills himself thereby causing a major change to the timeline. Louise decides to take Bill with her to the future. The recent incursion results in a force infinity timequake which will destroy the entire civilization of the “present” future and the Gate (time machine) itself. It is decided that it is time to send all of the people who have been collected to the distant future before the Gate is destroyed.

Bill and Louise step through and disappear into the Gate, which takes them to another time and another place, in order to save their lives, and to fulfill a destiny to repopulate Earth. A simple, but poignant, message is recited by Sherman the Robot, quoting Winston Churchill, in the closing seconds of the film. As the blast wave of the gate being destroyed vaporizes Sherman he states, “This is not the end. This is not the beginning of the end. It is the end of the beginning” as the scene transitions to the sun rising above the clouds. 6 out of 10!

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