LIQUID SKY (1982), from director Slava Tsukerman (Perestroika), is a fever dream of a film that combines the world of drugs with an alien lifeforce, set against the backdrop of the 80’s party circuit, that was clearly ahead of its time. The film stars Anne Carlisle (Perfect Strangers), Paula E. Sheppard (Alice Sweet Alice), Susan Doukas (Bloodrage), and Otto von Wernherr (Perfect Strangers).
The film centers around Margaret (Carlisle), a promiscuous, bi-sexual fashion model and her nemesis, the androgynous Jimmy, also played by Carlisle. Set against the backdrop of Manhattan’s underground club scene, specifically that of electroclash, aliens arrive in search of heroin, otherwise known as Liquid Sky. However it’s soon discovered that when an orgasm is achieved, the chemical that is released is just as powerful and more desired than the heroin. With this knowledge, the aliens decide to stay close to Margaret as they can achieve their fix through Margaret and her numerous partners. However, soon Margaret realizes that something is terribly amiss as each of her sex partners die mysterious deaths after they have copulated.
I’ll be honest, when this movie first started I wasn’t sure how on-board I was going to be, but as it continued on the more I became intrigued with unfolding story. The real star of the show was without a doubt Anne Carlisle as she took on both roles of Margaret and Jimmy. She was so good in her portrayal of both characters that you forgot that she was playing each character’s nemesis. She truly stole the show in every way possible and I was blown away by her talent and dedication to the role. I also really enjoyed Paula Sheppard, who plays Margaret’s girlfriend, Adrian. She was crazy to a T and extremely toxic to Margaret. I was utterly captivated by her role because of how outlandish she was. Not only did she treat Margaret like shit but she was the one responsible for dealing the majority of the drugs. Even though I ended up despising her character, I thought Sheppard did a fantastic job portraying her.
As for the story itself, I found that to be the most interesting part of the film. Not knowing much about the underground club scene in New York during the 80s, I felt as though LIQUID SKY gave the viewer a glimpse into a world that not many people have ever experienced. There’s a lot that can be said about the metaphors used about sex, drugs, and the lifestyle that our characters led but I think the film does a rather good job of bringing those to the forefront and not shying away from them. However, I will say, some of the deaths that occur during orgasm seem well deserved due to the action(s) of certain individuals. My only critique is I felt as though there may have been too many stories competing with one another that resulted in the film dragging at times. Even with that said, I felt the overall narrative of the film was rather compelling.
There is a lot to love about LIQUID SKY, whether it be the acting, the vibrant neon color palette, or the overall story. It definitely has that 80’s feel to it with moments of exaggerated overacting but I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. Vinegar Syndrome did an excellent job of fully restoring it to 4K from its original 35mm negative as it allowed for all those neon colors to pop and for everything to look crisp and clean. The Blu-ray is also loaded with bonus features such as interviews with director Slava Tsukerman and actress Anne Carlisle as well as 50-minute retrospective documentary into the film titled, Liquid Sky Revisited. Fans of 80’s avant-garde films or even those who appreciate eccentric sci-fi films will find a lot to enjoy with LIQUID SKY.
LIQUID SKY is now available for the first on a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.
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