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Home | Film Reviews | Cult Films | Film Review: Liquid Sky (1982)

Film Review: Liquid Sky (1982)

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Invisible aliens in a tiny flying saucer come to Earth looking for heroin. They land on top of a New York apartment inhabited by a drug dealer and her female, androgynous, bisexual nymphomaniac lover, a fashion model.

The aliens soon find the human pheromones created in the brain during orgasm preferable to heroin, and the model’s casual sex partners begin to disappear. This increasingly bizarre scenario is observed by a lonely woman in the building across the street, a German scientist who is following the aliens, and an equally androgynous, drug-addicted male model. (Both models are played by Anne Carlisle, in a dual role.) Darkly funny and thoroughly weird.


To say the film Liquid Sky is oddly interesting is an understatement. Cult-y? yes. A favorite among cult film overs? I’m not entirely so sure. Planted firmly in a base that reeks of 80’s alternative new wave meets drug culture, “Liquid Sky” has become (over the years) an offbeat science fiction experience loaded with 80’s level camera special effects and seedy street atmosphere.

Upon review of this film, I had to make sure it received my full concentration and rested up attention to make way thru this “mostly” nonsensical production. Directed by Slava Tsukerman, this quirky independent movie seemed to make enough of an impact in the industry to land itself into most “cult B-movie book” recommendations.

The music is an odd mixture of new wave tracks, spoken word concoctions, and 80’s stylings of anti-rock movement electronic voicings. I don’t think the soundtrack would fall much under a favorite listening list from that era as it lacked the mainstream attractions that came with 1980’s new wave, but it indeed provides a quirky drone meets electronic-industrial merging of music tracks that feel right at home.

This independent film release was noted as having debuted at the Montreal Film festival and oddly enough became one of the more successful independent films of that year. The setting is New York City set within the cultural aspects of “avant garde” night clubs, fashion, and forced degrees of sex and violence. Our main focal actor of this film Anne Carlisle plays the role of 2 completely opposite characters, Margaret, a fashion model bisexual and Jimmy a junkie new wave androgynous kid who is presented as a male figure in the film but easily resembles more of a cross dressing female dressed in man’s clothing. Actress Anne Carlisle) would go on to appear in a handful of films which include. “The Suicide Club”, “Crocodile Dundee” and “Desperately Seeking Susan”.

The foundation of this film is set among drug users, pushers, and socialites but is oddly combined with the added science fiction element of an alien spacecraft that seems to be studying Margaret’s daily encounters and then feeding off of endorphins of her victims (or relationships…give or take).

The drugs Heroin, Quaaludes, and Cocaine are often exchanged, taken, and abused by the majority of the characters in this film thus the title “Liquid Sky” which is a form of Heroin turned into liquid and injected. Oddly enough Heroine is often represented as being a safe euphoric experience rather than an anti-drug message most likely due to its early 80’s time frame. It doesn’t advocate but also doesn’t deter.

Liquid Sky” primarily centers itself on Margaret’s relationships, seductions, encounters and “scene” friends who all share some form of common interest with her lifestyle.

In summary, this film is not one what I see myself doing many repeat viewings of due to having more interest in the rock and roll culture than that new wave movement of that time. I will say that the film itself appears to fit in nicely with other films of that era such as early 80’s “Breaking Glass”, “Jubilee”, “The Fabulous Stains and “Times Square”, all of which are far more watchable than “Liquid sky” …..but that also share a common “punk-equse base of attitude and presentation. The film itself (if I remember correctly ) was also presented at midnight showings to the audience culture of “The Rocky Horror Film” collective who might appreciate it for its more hallucinogenic moments and odd presentation. In retrospect the acting here was just poorly done set among a cold neon world.

The tone of the film was right for its time but may not make as much sense to 21st century movie watchers. The cheesy camera fx in Liquid Sky” were still considered cutting edge and representative of editing transitions found in video packages that were available in the early 80’s, so as quirky and amateur as they might appear, were still considered “cool” for 1980.

While “Liquid Sky” is unique, retro-based and extremely suitable for cult classifications, I am not a huge fan of drug films myself and can only say that you see it for its contribution to cinematic achievements of past generations. The humor and sarcasm of this film is subtle but still perceivable lying firmly underneath its tongue in cheek New York street movement. If not apparent in its first act spoken word electronic presentation then I don;’t know what else!

Give it whirl for your owner personal bucket list!

Liquid Sky is now available on bluray per Vinegar Syndrome
(and appears to be sold out!)

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