Lifeforce [Original Score]

by: Henry Mancini

Director Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce, the first film the director best known for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre undertook following his mainstream breakthrough, Poltergeist, was a star-crossed project. Produced by Cannon Films, an exploitation studio, it seems to have been intended to be more of a legitimate movie than the company's usual fare, with a larger budget and some name creative figures, starting with Hooper and also including co-scriptwriter Dan O'Bannon (who was responsible for Alien) and composer Henry Mancini. Still, it was a sci-fi/horror hybrid based on Colin Wilson's novel The Space Vampires, a title that was a good description of what it was about, at least in part, although Cannon apparently felt that the title Lifeforce made it sound less like a cheesy horror movie. Mancini, who had worked on some cheesy horror movies back in the '50s before turning to jazzier fare, returned to his roots somewhat in his orchestral score, and it was clear he'd been listening to what John Williams had been doing in the Star Wars series. O'Bannon (along with Dan Jakoby) provided a script that started out like Alien before mutating into a variation on Night of the Living Dead and then into an apocalyptic fantasy, with plenty of sex along the way. (Mathilda May, the chief vampire, spent most of the picture unclothed.) Hooper seemed to be harking back to the old Hammer horror films of the '50s with his mostly British cast and dark sets. Cannon apparently found the whole thing too long, especially the opening section, and re-cut it, deleting about 15 minutes. Mancini was asked to come back and revise his music, but he was on to his next project, and Michael Kamen was brought in instead, adding a lot of electronic effects. But this soundtrack album is based on Mancini's original score, with none of Kamen's work included. The music for the full opening sequence ("The Discovery Suite," in four parts) is all here, and another suite, "Web of Destiny," closes things with appropriate majesty. Best of all is Mancini's opening "Theme" (not heard onscreen until the credits). So, this album may not reflect the music as it accompanied the released film, but it is a different look at Mancini, and a worthwhile one. (Lifeforce was restored to the director's cut, with Kamen's music eliminated and Mancini's full score reinstated, for the Laserdisc release of the film. This version was retained in the subsequent DVD release.) ~ William Ruhlmann

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