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The film poster.
|Directed by||Slava Tsukerman|
|Produced by||Slava Tsukerman
Nina V. Kerova
Robert E. Field
|Written by||Slava Tsukerman
Nina V. Kerova
Paula E. Sheppard
|Music by||Slava Tsukerman
Brenda I. Hutchinson
|Editing by||Sharyn L. Ross|
Media Home Entertainment
|Release date(s)||August 1982|
|Running time||112 min.|
Liquid Sky is an independent American film. It debuted at the Montreal Film festival in August 1982 and was well received at several film festivals thereafter. It was produced with a budget of $500,000. It became the most successful independent film of 1983 grossing $1.7 million dollars in the first several months of release.
On April 16, 2009 Dan Persons of mightymoviepodcast.com recalled that upon its release, Liquid Sky "provoked heated arguments and, love it or hate, was required viewing for anyone who really cared about film.". Persons considers the film "one of the formative forces of indie film."
Carlos James Chamberlin wrote in March, 2004 at senseofcinema.com: "It’s about time people started rendering unto Liquid Sky. Its long lipstick trace is smudged through much of indie cinema."
Liquid Sky was produced and directed by Slava Tsukerman who, prior to making Liquid Sky, had a successful career as a documentary and TV film maker in the USSR and Israel. The screenplay was written by Tsukerman, his wife and ubiquitous co-producer Nina V. Kerova, and Anne Carlisle, who also enacted the film's two leading roles. The director of photography, Yuri Neyman, a Russian émigré, was also the film's special effects expert. Anne Carlisle also wrote a novel based on the movie (same title, ISBN 0-385-23930-0) in 1987.
Although the film is loosely centered around early 1980s punk subculture, the film's score uses a series of strident synthesizer music pieces. The music was composed by Slava Tsukerman, Clive Smith and Brenda Hutchinson using the Fairlight CMI, the first digital sampler/synthesizer. Most of it was original, but included interpretations of Baroque composer Marin Marais's Sonnerie de Ste-Geneviève du Mont-de-Paris, Carl Orff's Trionfo di Afrodite, and Anthony Philip Heinrich's Laurel Waltz. All of these were orchestrated in a series of ominous, dissonant arrangements and nightmarish marches.
An avant garde fashion show is to be held in a New Wave nightclub in Manhattan. Among the models are bisexual Margaret (Anne Carlisle) and Jimmy (also played by Carlisle). Jimmy is Margaret's rival and nemesis. He is apparently a drug addict, constantly hassling Margaret's heroin-dealer girlfriend Adrian (Paula E. Sheppard) for drugs despite not having any money to pay for them.
An alien spacecraft — about the size of a dinner plate — lands on the rooftop of the penthouse apartment occupied by Margaret and Adrian. Before the show, Jimmy suggests to Margaret that they both go to her place, but once there he only cares about finding Adrian's stash of heroin. We learn that Margaret's apartment is being watched by a tiny, shapeless alien from inside the UFO. Meanwhile, Adrian performs "Me and My Rhythm Box" at the club. Margaret and Jimmy return to the club to participate in the show. During preparations both agree to a photographic shoot the following night on Margaret's rooftop. They are assured that there will be plenty of drugs available at the shoot.
Margaret and Jimmy perform in the nightclub fashion show. Margaret connects with Californian soap opera actor and son of a TV producer Vincent (Jack Adalist). Vincent is offering cocaine to all the women at the nightclub. Back at Margaret's apartment she rejects Vincent when all he offers are Quaaludes. He beats her and rapes her on the building's staircase.
Across town, middle class Katherine (Elaine C. Grove) revoices her objection to the heroin use of her boyfriend, failed writer and heroin addict Paul (Stanley Knap). German scientist Johann Hoffman (Otto Von Wernherr) arrives in New York, then secretly starts observing the aliens from the Empire State Building observation deck. Paul buys heroin from Adrian while trying to seduce Margaret.
Jimmy has lunch with his image conscious mother, Sylvia (Susan Doukas), a television producer. She tries to connect with him, but Jimmy's main interest is in obtaining money from her. Johann needs somewhere to continue his surveillance when the observation deck closes. He seeks help in this from the only person he knows in America, college drama teacher Owen (Bob Brady). Owen fobs Johann off as he plans to go meet a former student, Margaret.
Seeking a vantage point on his own, Johann seeks access to an apartment building adjacent to Margaret's. This is Sylvia's building and lascivious Sylvia, who happens to have a free evening, eagerly invites Johann to her apartment for dinner.
Margaret is seduced by her former acting professor Owen, a representative of the erstwhile hippie generation. He dies as they have sex in view of the aliens, with a crystal embedded into his head. Adrian returns and they clash over Margaret's dalliance with Owen. Adrian recites a eulogy, helps hide the body, and goes out to buy food for an impromptu wake.
Paul refuses to play host to Katherine's business clients at a party in her loft, claiming he feels sick. She angrily throws him out. Paul shows up at Margaret's while Adrian is out, and rapes her. He too dies, with a crystal protruding from his head. The aliens dispose of his body which instantly disintegrates. Margaret apparently believes it is the work of an "Indian" god possessing the Empire State Building and is grateful, but in shock.
From Sylvia's apartment, Johann intermittently continues his observation between dinner and dodging Sylvia's various attempts to seduce him. He leaves to warn Adrian when she buys provisions for the wake. Rebuked by Adrian as a narc he returns to Sylvia.
The crew arrives at Margaret's apartment for the fashion shoot. During the shoot Margaret is taunted by Jimmy, so she agrees to have sex with him knowing it will kill him. He dies and the body evaporates as Paul's had done. Adrian perversely encourages Margaret to have sex with her, rapes her, and Adrian also dies. A vengeful Margaret applies new make-up, deserts the crew and goes to a downtown nightclub. There she reconnects with Vincent, who previously raped her. Back at her apartment she seduces him, ensuring his death. Katherine arrives at the nightclub asking after Paul's dealer, Adrian.
Johann reveals that the alien is extracting the endorphins produced by the brain when an orgasm occurs—apparently a fatal operation. Johann resumes observation of Margaret's apartment and sees she is in mortal danger so goes across to help her. He explains to Margaret that she survived because she never experienced an orgasm. Seeing the alien craft leaving, Margaret stabs Johann in the back and injects herself with heroin to induce a wild autoerotic orgasm to ensure the aliens take her with them. Sylvia and Katherine arrive at the apartment together and reach the penthouse in time to see Margaret vaporized by the aliens.
- Anne Carlisle as Margaret/Jimmy
- Paula E. Sheppard as Adrian
- Susan Doukas as Sylvia
- Otto von Wernherr as Johann Hoffman
- Bob Brady as Owen
- Elaine C. Grove as Katherine
- Stanley Knap as Paul
- Jack Adalist as Vincent
- Lloyd Ziff as Lester
- Harry Lum as Chinese Food Deliveryman
- Roy MacArthur as Jack
- Sara Carlisle as Nellie
- Nina V. Kerova as Designer
- Alan Preston as Photographer
- Christine Hatfull as Hair Stylist
- Montreal World Film Festival – First Jury Award
- Sydney Film Festival - Audience Award
- Cartagena Film Festival – Special Jury Prize for Visual Impact
- Brussels International Film Festival - Special Prize of the Jury
- Cinemanila International Film Festival - Special Jury Prize
- American Cinematographer Magazine May 1984 reproduced by the official Liquid Sky Website
- Interview with Anne Carlisle Moviegoer Magazine July 1984 reproduced by the official Liquid Sky Website
- The 1980s revival that lasted an entire decade by Simon Reynolds for The Guardian
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