‘Liquid Sky’ Blu-ray/DVD Review”: Strange Trip


Liquid Sky is one of those movies I can recommend, but with trepidation. That’s because it’s not for everyone — not by a long shot — and I don’t want to encourage the wrong audience, who will hate it. But for those who can handle the film’s perverse pleasures — namely, its twisted beauty offset by an ugly, corpse-filled, drug-drenched sci-fi plot amid New York’s early ’80s club scene — then this strange trip is for you.

I say this with deference to qualifying remarks because I recall showing another gritty, edgy New York indie to a couple who once visited my wife and me — with emphasis on the word “once,” since we never saw them again. That film was Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which I found to be an inspired rock odyssey of raw yet oddly tender sexual passions. Yet if you’ve seen it, you know that Hedwig isn’t for everyone, either.

So for Liquid Sky (slang for heroin), you’re both warned and encouraged. As a Rocky Horror sign would say, enter at your own risk.

Due April 24 in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack from Vinegar Syndrome, this 1982 film is as strange as they come. How strange?

A tiny flying saucer lands atop a Manhattan apartment building, where live a drug dealer and her roommate, a tall, gorgeous model named Margaret (Ann Carlisle), whose  equally striking male nemesis, Jimmy, also is played by Carlisle.

As the Kinks sang, girls will be boys, and boys will be girls.

Margaret gradually realizes that whoever has sex with her (which includes some revolting rapes) then dies at the moment of orgasm. That’s courtesy of the unseen aliens in the tiny ship on her roof, who have gone slumming on Earth to indulge their own drug addictions: for elements released in humans’ brains during orgasm.

You know how ’80s fashions and music often seem quaint today, while still appealing in a nostalgic way? Well, Liquid Sky punches them up with bold intensity that defies quaintness. This isn’t the ’80s of a John Hughes teen rom-com. From the color-splashed duds to the electroclash music, Liquid Sky is bizarrely alluring stuff that goes too far — and makes us glad it did.

Heck, even staid Time magazine hailed Liquid Sky as “a two-hour act of imagination.”

And you get more than those two hours here. The new package also includes a wealth of bonus features running more than two hours themselves.

They include director Slava Tsukerman’s intro and commentary; interviews with Tsukerman and Carlisle; a brand new 50-minute making-of featurette called Liquid Sky Revisited; an alternate opening sequence; never-seen outtakes; an isolated soundtrack; and a photo gallery.

Oh — and the original 35mm negative has been scanned and fully restored in 4k.

So if you’re up for crazy creativity, give it a shot. I’m not promising you’ll enjoy it, but I am promising you will not be bored — not while tripping on this remarkable if sometimes revolting exercise in no-holds-barred cinema.

— Bruce Westbrook








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