Sunday, May 24, 2020

Liquid Sky 1982 Movie Review - with Spoilers - Watch, React, Review

From the far reaches of the Milky Way Galaxy, It's Retro Nerd Girl with a WATCH, REACT, and REVIEW for you.

Let’s watch  Liquid Sky released in 1982.

Anne Carlisle, Paula E. Sheppard, Susan Doukas

Directed by:
Slava Tsukerman

Sci-Fi, Thriller

Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Rating:

$500,000 (estimated)

Current IMDb Rating When Reviewed:

The Synopsis from IMDb:
Invisible tiny aliens come to Earth looking for drugs and land on top of a East Village New York apartment inhabited by a drug dealer, Adrian and her androgynous, bisexual lover, Margaret.  By accident the aliens discover something more appetizing than drugs and causes a string of mysterious deaths using Margaret as a conduit.  The strange events are all being observed by a lonely woman in the building across the street and a German scientist who's following the alien.

I saw this a long time ago but after getting a message from one of you, I decided to take another look at it.  What I remember of it was that it was visually trippy and psychedelic, which I love, but it isn’t a movie I have seen often.  So let's take a look at Liquid Sky again from my current perspective.

15 minutes in
A face mask with realistic eyes set into it is the opening visual and the centerpiece of a penthouse apartment almost solely decorated with neon signs. It’s a very creepy visual. The music is a rudimentary mix of experimental sounds that rarely have an actual rhythm. The music is definitely a thing.  There are moments of ambient high pitched screeches and then a Baroque style tune from an electric organ that blares throughout as what could be conceived as a theme for the film.  It really makes you feel uneasy and that is probably what you are meant to feel in order to understand something creepy and weird is happening.  It’s almost like nails on a chalkboard.

The aliens are drawn to the mask and position themselves above the apartment with the mask.  The aliens are attracted to the mask because that is where Adrian the drug dealer who lives there keeps drugs.

Along with funky visuals we get a very loud and interesting art performance at a nightclub.  In fact I would say that the film is art performance heavy.  Adrian is a spoken word artist and Margaret, her girlfriend and the main character in the film does a variation of physical dance art performances.

Margaret has a male doppelganger, Jimmy is a model like she is and it’s interesting because the two characters are played by the same actress.  Margaret is kinda into Jimmy, but Jimmy despises her and is only after drugs and has no money to pay for it.   Between the two there is a lot of awkward dialogue just showing off the visual effect of the two of them being in the same fame.  It’s still a cool effect for the time.

Also, "Liquid Sky" is referring to the drug, heroin.

1 hour in
Sadly in the search for drugs, Margaret meets a dealer and he abuses her and sexually takes advantage of her.  It’s pretty disturbing and yet it’s just glossed over.  Next scene!

Then right after there are 3 scenes going on at once.  Margaret and Adrian having lunch while Adrian berates her, Jimmy having lunch with his mother asking her for money, and a German scientist, Johann meets with an acting professor to warn him about the aliens.

The professor turns out to be Margaret’s ex boyfriend who takes advantage of her and then suddenly he dies. 

If you weren't sure what happened, another guy busts into the apartment and takes advantage of her too and he dies too.

It seems as if the aliens are consuming endorphins released in the brains of the people who have orgasms.  And yes that sounds crazy but it’s what’s happening.  

Also, Jimmy's mother lives in the building across from Margaret's penthouse and she teams up with a German scientist Johann Hoffman who has been tracking the aliens.  They spend much of the time flirting with each other and using a telescope to peep at the penthouse and even witnesses some of the murders.  No one calls the cops.

To the end…
Margaret thinks that someone or something is killing these men for her since she is not killed too, but she’s not killed because she never had an orgasm.   She’s so lonely that she’s a little delusional too.  Initially she starts out sweet and gullible and by the end she is cold, calculating and becomes a premeditated murderer.  

There's a big photo shoot at the apartment and all hell breaks loose.  There's drugs and sex and the aliens get Jimmy and Adrian because the crowd pressures and forces Margaret to do things with them and it becomes a menagerie of visuals like turning the pages of a fashion magazine from 1982.

So a little bit about the film is that russian filmmaker, Slava Tsukerman was one of the producers, co-writer, editor, the director, and composer. The film is an adaptation of an original script titled "Sweet Sixteen" by Slava.  It was re-written with his wife, Nina V. Kerova but because of their language barrier they hired Anne Carlisle to help them write the script.   Being an American actress, performance artist, acting teacher, author, and model she was perfect for the lead.  Anne Carlisle playing dual role was not originally planned on pre-production. The actor who was supposed to play the character of Jimmy fell out of the project.

The movie was the most successful independent film of the 1983, spent twenty-eight weeks on Variety's top grossing films box-office chart and was the longest running title on it for the year of 1983.  To this day the film still has a strong cult following

The visuals are bold and often mixed with harsh edits to non congruent scenes.  Everything about it is experimental and to be honest, I loved it.  It’s an art piece no doubt about it.  Very David Bowie, Andy Warhol, meets Seurat at the Museum of Modern Art 3 days a week.  

There's a lot of atmospheric B roll footage of lights, strange dutch angles, zooms, flashing lights, and of New York City.  It feels like a time capsule of the time and it was nice seeing the twin towers again.  I was brought up in New York City in the 1980’s and it really did look like that.

Even with the weird music and a strange ending, I feel as if the story is solid. Nothing is played for a joke.  Everyone is serious about their parts.  The acting is decent.  It’s just that it’s told in a way that is not traditional.  It’s making a statement about traditions. There is lots of really good dialogue about questioning the status quo, how we dress in costumes for our roles in society, and the rejection of those who defy the definition of what is considered normal.  It’s a great conversation that we are still having.  Some people may consider a movie like this a bit pretentious, but I admire the guts to try something different in cinema.

My Rating:

That’s my review.  I hope you liked it.  This is Retro Nerd Girl signing off!

Take care movie lovers!  I'm off to the next review!

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