Sunday, October 24, 2010

Classic novel Revisited: Space Vampires by Colin Wilson

Space Vampires AKA(Lifeforce) By Colin Wilson
216 pages
Out of print

This science fiction horror crossover is remembered mostly from the Cannon films adaptation of the novel. The film while produced by Cannon films the schlock studio behind the cinematic ascension of Chuck Norris and the Sho Kosugi Ninja trilogy is not that bad. They certainly hired excellent cast and crew. Directed by Texas chainsaw massacre director Tobe Hooper, adapted by Alien Screenwriter Dan O'Bannon and scored by Harry Mancini. Lead by an impressive bat shit crazy performance by Steve Railsbeck, a small role by the future enterprise captain Patrick Stewart and of course the naked space vampire who excited overly hormonal horror fans by walking around London naked played by Mathilda May.

It was sci-fi and horror so I have seen a few times over the years. Recently I saw a tie-in paperback on the shelf at powells and thought I would give the book a shot and re-watch the movie. The first 80 or so pages of the book I was impressed thought it was much better than my memory of the film. First off I think the novel takes place a little further in the future. The discovery of the “stranger” spaceship and the discovery of the vampires is handled excellently. The creepy-ness of finding a old dead space ship in space is well done and I felt the charcters nervous-ness come through the text.

“The stranger ship” in the novel has a very cosmic horror, lovecraftian-ness that exists in the novel but it is deeper in the book. One of the blurbs on the cover called it fast paced. Yes at times it was fast paced too fast paced, some times scenes and action transitioned so fast and I to go back and re-read sections. Wilson just skipped ahead if the part of the story bored him at least it seemed to me.

Any of my friends on Good reads might notice that I started this book in July and finished in October. I am a fast reader generally. But once this book hits the wall. For 20 or 30 thirty mind numbinging pages the main character Carlsen gets a history lesson on vampires. This is meant to connect traditional vampires to the three energy sucking space vampires. The major difference between the movie and the book is O'Bannon didn't use any of this material. Good on him, it is boring ireallavent and just straight ruined the main work of the first 80 pages.

The movie turned out a little better. Yep it's one of those rare cases like Children of Men or the English Patient where the film is much better than the book. While the movie comes off now as campy, and little over the top most of that is due to being out of date. Perhaps it seemed less cheezy in 1985,certainly when I watched it in the 80's it looked better to me.

1 comment:

Jess Gulbranson said...

Love the movie. I showed it to my little brother a while back (he's 15) and now we have an inside joke based around the interminable sequences of scientists/guards running through the sets of plexiglass doors leading to the containment cell. "SOOOOOOO many doors..." But yeah, it's a great, underrated flick. I wished the thanatologist character got a little more play.