Jul 31, 2012
After viewing the Austrian cyber-dyke flick Flaming Ears (1992) and taking heed of a film recommendation from my culturally refined lady friend, I decided to finally give the New Wave sci-fi work Liquid Sky (1982) directed by Slava Tsukerman (Stalin’s Wife, Perestroika) a serious viewing. Tsukerman decided to create the film after his previous project Sweet Sixteen – also a science fiction film designed with the New Wave style in mind that was to feature Andy Warhol – never received the funding the director needed, thus he became resourceful and merely used the cast of the aborted project for Liquid Sky, including star and script co-writer Anne Carlisle (Perfect Strangers, Crocodile Dundee). Although often associated with the punk subculture, Liquid Sky – which was released the same year as the Hollywood cyberpunk classic Blade Runner (1982) – has more in common aesthetically with the U.K.-based New Romantic fashion movement of the early 1980s as the film most certainly looks like it could have been directed by Visage frontman Steve Strange himself. Somewhat surprisingly, Liquid Sky was instead directed by a Soviet-born Jew who created TV movies and documentaries (he would later have a successful career in Israeli television) before assembling the avant-garde libertine sci-fi comedy that would gain him the most notoriety as a filmmaker because on top of being extremely influential culturally, Liquid Sky was the most economically profitable independent film of 1983. Materialistic monetary matters aside, Liquid Sky obtained a steady cult following over the years, not least due to the film's bittersweet cocktail of dazzling psychedelic special-effects, plentifully perverse humor (the lead anti-heroess is repeatedly the victim of rape), sometimes silly computer generated soundtrack and inter-sexual New Romanticist imagery. Taking its name from the English-translated American Indian saying for heroin, Liquid Sky is an often absurd and authentically campy sci-fi farce about a group of tiny and invisible junk-addicted space aliens (whose spaceship is about the size of a dinner plate) who come to earth to harvest the endorphins created in the human brain during sexual orgasm – which are apparently similar in chemical structure to heroin – by using an androgynous bisexual lady named Margaret as a vessel for obtaining orgasmic juices via her surly and sadistic sexual partners. In the process of obtaining their opiate-like pheromones, Margaret’s sexual partners die post-orgasm after a crystal blade appears protruding through their skulls that is used by the aliens to extract the pleasure molecules. Needless to say, Liquid Sky is not the sort of sci-fi flick that was made with virginal fanboys and turdish trekkies in mind, but instead junkies, perverts, pessimists, and degenerates of all sorts.
Liquid Sky begins at a newer-than-new-wave fashion show featuring model Margaret (Anne Carlisle) and her equally sexually ambiguous archenemy/doppelgänger Jimmy (also Carlisle); a fairy of an effeminate fellow who has a hard time fueling his life-consuming addiction to heroin. Luckily for Margaret her butch gal pal Adrian (Paula E. Sheppard) is a hip heroin-dealer. Being a linguistically elegant and articulate lady of high Manhattan culture, Adrian describes her girlfriend as an, “uptight wasp cunt from Connecticut.” Indeed, miss Marge came of age in New England suburbia and had a relatively mundane upbringing as expressed by various childhood photos of her featured in Liquid Sky. It was not until Margaret moved to the city with overtly delusional aspirations of being the next David Bowie that she became an increasingly masculine, drug-addicted drama queen with a less than lavish libertinage lifestyle. Luckily for her, Margaret finally gets her big break in show biz, at least in her own mind, when an alien spaceship lands on the roof of the penthouse apartment that she shares with her stocky and cocky Alpine-shaped girlfriend Adrian. Indeed, Margaret wants to become a space oddity of sorts and she has no qualms about fucking people to death to appease her extraterrestrial masters (although she initially theorizes that an Indian God is guiding her). During her wild night of sexual seduction and depravity, Margaret helps the alien secure the endorphins of a rapist soup opera actor, an ex-hippie college professor, a failed artist who likens himself to French poet Jean Cocteau, among various other individual that probably deserve to die. Meanwhile, a socially inept German scientist named Johann Hoffman (Otto Von Wernherr) flies into Manhattan from Berlin as he has been monitoring the space aliens for some time now, but he has a hard time convincing the citizens New York City’s most densely populated borough that they are under attack by minature junky spacemen. While attempting to find a view adjacent to Margaret’s apartment so as to monitor the space alien's dubious activity, Johann is welcomed in the apartment of Sylvia (Susan Doukas) – a television producer who also happens to be the mother of jerk junky Jimmy – and carries the rest of his UFOphile voyeurism in her window. Clearly a sexually-deprived masochist, Sylvia is especially turned on by the fact that Johann is German and she is Jewish, thus she spends the rest of the night trying to get in the pants of the seemingly asexual Teutonic Scientist. Needless to say, there are a variety of outré sexual liaisons featured throughout Liquid Sky, but very little of it is mutually reciprocal, thus the aliens are the only group the truly benefits from the counter-culture phenomenon of free love in world were souls are vapid and emotions are artificially altered via downers and uppers.
One thing that most viewers will notice almost immediately upon watching Liquid Sky, aside from the quasi-schlocky futurist fashion imagery, is the curiously cynical comedic tone of the film, as if director Slava Tsukerman truly longed for the colonization of earth by endorphin-fiending extraterrestrial beings. In an interview featured in the book Destroy All Movies!!! (2010), Tsukerman stated in regard to his satirical objective with Liquid Sky, “Criticism of the scene was not intended…criticism of our entire civilization was intended.” Unequivocally, from the emotionally sterile Faustian scientist to the deadbeat opiate-driven would-be artist, Liquid Sky is an aesthetically hypnotic yet delightfully scornful condemnation of the culturally-vacuous and technocratic Occidental world. With highly quotable lines like, “Cocteau was Cocteau before he ever did drugs” and “I kill with my cunt. Isn’t it fashionable?”, it is easy to see why Liquid Sky has remained a popular work among both cinephiles and sexually ambiguous New Wavers alike since its initial release three decades ago. Equipped with what Tsukerman describes as, “the first computer-generated music score in the history of film” and a number absurd avant-garde fashion styles that Lady Gaga has stolen and repackaged over the years, Liquid Sky is like all great works of science fiction; a fantastic but unsentimental window into a dystopian future that has subsequently revealed itself. A work influenced by heroin abuse that often looks like an acid trip, Liquid Sky is delicious cyber-candy for the eyes and a delightful despoiler for the soul.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 7:51 PM
Soiled Sinema 2007 - 2013. All rights reserved. Best viewed in Firefox and Chrome.