Parental Advisory: this film review contains strong language and other potentially offensive content.
"Few movies are specifically tailored for appeal to those on controlled substances...."
—Andrew Borntregger, Badmovies.org.
"A bunch of people got really fucked up on drugs and made a movie."
---Some Guy at a Party, the 1980s.
"I’m from Connecticut. I kill with my cunt."
--Margaret, Liquid Sky
Reviled, praised, but mostly forgotten, 1982’s Liquid Sky certainly manages a different take on alien invasions, drug movies, and alternative cultures.
Director: Slava Tsukerman.
Writers: Anne Carlisle, Nina V. Kerova
Paula E. Sheppard…Adrian
Otto von Wernherr…Johann Hoffman
Elaine C. Grove…Katherine
Nina V. Kerova…Designer
Some alien eyeballs, piloting a flying saucer about the size of a casserole dish, go to New York to get heroin. It's a physical need for them; they feed on opiates and related chemicals. To this end, they find themselves on the roof of an apartment building inhabited by a barely-sane lesbian drug dealer, Adrian, and her abused girlfriend, Margaret. The aliens find they can live just as well off the chemicals produced by the human brain during orgasm.
They fixate on Margaret, whose terrible sexual life involves getting raped or otherwise being ill-used by members of both sexes. Not surprisingly, she never reaches climax. Her partners do—- and when the aliens feed off of them, they experience more than a little death. Margaret thinks she’s been gifted with the ability to get revenge (I think) and she slips further out of touch with reality, such as this film acknowledges so mundane a concept.
You with me so far?
Since Margaret models for avant garde publications, we’re plunged into a world of pretentious alternative types. Meanwhile, a German scientist explains the title and elements of the plot from a nearby apartment.
Carlisle, who co-wrote the script, plays both Margaret and an androgynous male named Jimmy. This double role means we get to see Carlisle's two characters engage each other sexually. Other memorable scenes include Adrian eating raw chicken, Adrian singing the memorably bad "Me and My Rhythm Box," and a couple of unattractive new wave types breaking into an off-key rendition of "Old McDonald Had a Farm."
The film features some interesting visuals, passable social commentary, and intermittent creepiness. It also provided a reference point for the hipper-than-thou in the 1980s. Conceptually, it is interesting, though execution falls far behind premise. Some of the supporting performances, in particular, are dismal. I also assume it’s abundantly clear by now that the film won’t suit all tastes. I myself found that, by the time we were treated to the sight of Adrian masturbating on a corpse, a certain line of decorum had been crossed.
Nevertheless, some people will have to see this film, and it has found its way onto DVD, complete with behind-the-scenes footage and an alternate opening. Liquid Sky may not be a cinematic masterpiece, but it stands among the most unusual films of the twentieth century.