Lifeforce the complete powerful and consuming score by Henry Mancini is now available on a two CD set from Intrada records. In many the film and also the score have over the years been somewhat ignored, the soundtrack being released initially on an LP and then onto CD from various labels including Varese Sarabande, normally I would say when listening to a film score that you are familiar with and rate quite high any expanded or improved edition can be suspect, there is the saying that less is more and I have over the years found this to be true in the case of so called expanded film soundtrack releases.
However, Lifeforce is I think the exception to that rule, as it is such a good score, and any extras are welcomed with open arms and an open mind. This sci-horror was directed by Tobe Hooper who brings to the screen a tale of space vampires. Released in 1985 the movie starred Steve Railsback, Frank Finlay, Peter Firth, Patrick Stewart, and Mathilda May. Based on the novel by Colin Wilson, the screenplay is a joint effort from Dan O’Bannon who co-writes with Don Jakoby. Cannon Films produced the movie which boasts a magnificently ferocious and ominous sounding soundtrack penned by the highly talented and versatile composer Henry Mancini.
Due to various problems and set back’s in post-production and changes that were called for by censors and distributors, the film needed to be re-scored in places, but Mancini was not available so the producers enlisted the help of Michael Kamen, who wrote approximately seventy five minutes of additional music for the re-edited version. Kamen’s music providing support for much of the opening of the movie. This two-CD set contains Mancini’s complete score, with Intrada also releasing Kamen’s score on separate CD, including premieres of his orchestral sessions. If you have not already added the score to your collection via the likes of previous releases, this two CD is a must have item, it shows just how versatile and chameleon like Mancini was, and there was more to this composer than syrupy little songs and themes such as The Sweetheart Tree and Moon River.
At times Mancini’s score becoming malevolent and commanding, there are also some complex compositions within the work. But I think more than anything it is the rousing and fast paced Lifeforce theme that many collectors will be impressed by. It is a theme that could I suppose be described as classic film music, dramatic and driving, with commanding brass and sweeping strings. Its persona establishing a daunting and threatening atmosphere immediately. The film sadly did not do as well as many thought, with the movie appearing on British TV very quickly. A Joint U.S. and British team working in space discover an immense spacecraft which is concealed inside Hailey’s Comet.
The ship is found to contain, not just humanoids but bats, they discover a female alien (Mathilda May) and decide that they should take her back to earth. But it is not long before they and the audience realise that she is a space vampire, and she begins to claim victims killing them by draining energy from their bodies. She is particularly focused upon Col. Tom Carlsen (Steve Railsback).
His encounters with the female vampire (who memorably plays much of her part nude) ultimately lead to spectacular, and bizarre, climax in London cathedral. Mancini becomes an integral part of the action, employing dark strings, rasping brass, and driving string passages. His central theme wastes no time establishing itself with wonderful 12/8 meter rhythm in lower strings, dynamic French horn and trumpet lines above, Mancini is in complete control from the start.
And treats us to a polished and haunting soundtrack, that although for most of its duration oozes tense and unsettling compositions also has to it moments of mesmerising beauty, quiet mystery, and rich lush thematic quality.
This I think stands as one of Mancini’s finest works, that is filled with spectacular moments, to die for crescendos and swirling mystical pieces, that have to them and eerie and ethereal sound. Tim Greiving provides informative notes for the release and the superb art-work is the work of Kay Marshal. The score was originally recorded by Eric Tomlinson at EMI Abbey Road Studios in the December of 1984. Mancini also conducted the score which was performed by the mighty LSO. The Varese Sarabande tracks are available on disc two of this release. Not got this then go get it now. And whilst you’re there why not order the Michael Kamen disc as well.