“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

Our second summer Sunday feature, an 80s cult film, has found faint new life on DVD. No film about alien contact has ever played quite like this before or since. Warning: content may be unsuited to all kinds of people. I dispense entirely with spoiler/censorship tags in the main body of the review.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Directed by Slava Tsukerman

Written by Anne Carlisle and Nina V. Kerova

Cast:

Anne Carlisle as Margaret
Anne Carlisle as Jimmy
Paula E. Sheppard as Adrien
Susan Doukas as Sylvia
Otto von Wernherr as Johann Hoffman
Boby Brady as Owen
Elaine C. Grove as Katherine
Sara Carilsle as Nellie
Nina V. Kerova as Designer

Available at Amazon.

Premise:

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.

High Point:

Both Margaret and Adrien deliver short, memorable monologues.

Low Point:

Any attempt to show the aliens or their saucer constitutes a low point.

The Scores:

Originality: 6/6. As should be clear from the premise, Liquid Sky manages to be original. 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.”

Effects: 1/6 They really didn’t have much of a budget with which to work.

Story: 3/6 Despite the helpful professor character, making the plot easy to follow was not high on the filmmakers’ list of priorities.

Acting: 3/6 Carlisle, who co-wrote the script, plays both Margaret and an androgynous male named Jimmy (This double role means we get to see Carlisle perform oral sex on herself). She does a pretty good job in both parts. The other performances vary, and some are abysmal.

Production: 3/6 The budget was low, but the film features some interesting visuals.

Emotional Response: 3/6. 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.

Overall: 4/6. The film features passable social commentary, and intermittent creepiness. It should be clear by now that it will not suit all tastes.

In total, Liquid Sky receives 23/42.

Additional Comments

Portions of this review appeared previously in one I wrote for e2.