Liquid Dreams (1991)


USA. 1991.


Director – Mark Manos, Screenplay – Zack Davis & Mark Manos, Producers – Diane Firestone & Zane W. Levitt, Photography – Sven Kirsten, Music – Ed Tomney, Special Effects – Court Wizard Special Effects, Makeup Effects’– Joe M. Montelongo, Randy S. Westgate, Production Design’– Pam Moffat. Production Company – Zeta Entertainment/Fox-Elwes Corporation


Candice Daly (Eve Black), Richard Steinmetz (Lieutenant Frank Rodino), Barry Dennen (The Major), Juan Fernandez (Juno), James Oseland (Maurice), Frankie Thorn (Paula), Marilyn Tokuda (Violet), Tracey Walter (Cecil), Mink Stole (Felix), John Doe (The Cabbie), Paul Bartel (Angel)


Eve Black arrives in Detroit from Kansas to visit her sister Tina. However, when she arrives at Tina’s apartment at the Neuro-Vid complex, Eve finds Tina’s dead body in the bathtub. Eve decides to move into the apartment to investigate Tina’s death. Nobody who knew Tina seems concerned about her death but finally Eve is able to bring police detective Frank Rodino in. Eve also gets a job at The Red Top Club where her job is to dance with strangers and turn them on. After seeing Tina on one of the Neuro-Vid erotic videos, Eve auditions as a Neuro-Vid dancer where she is required to take drugs that enhance her sensuality. As she becomes more deeply wound into the sinister happenings at the complex, she discovers that the Neuro-Vid elite have found a way of heightening the endorphins in arousal and are then extracting these from people to inject into themselves as a narcotic.

Liquid Dreams was an intriguing find. It is advertised as one type of film – the promotion and particularly the video cover tries to sell it as an erotic thriller. However, this turns out to be completely different in actuality – indeed, Liquid Dreams is made in a way that consciously rejects the erotic label. What would be erotic scenes in any other film are directed in a way that deliberately alienates an audience from appreciating them with the same erotic frisson that say something like Basic Instinct (1992) or the various erotic films made for cable create their on-screen sex scenes.

Indeed, the nearest that Liquid Dreams comes to any of this might be in several pieces of provocative avant garde theatre – particularly a perverse MTV staging of The Wizard of Oz (1939) with heroine Candice Daly being stripped to her underwear by the Cowardly Lion and crucified, or images of people kissing the genitalia of Barbie dolls. The film tosses in sexual politics sloganeering “Gender is Slavery” and lines like “Sex is only the wrapping paper – the real message is power.” Considering that Liquid Dreams was sold to the audience for erotica, all of this cannot help but seem subversive if not wilfully inflammatory.

The film creates a strangely interesting futuristic ambience – the apartment building becomes an enigmatic self-contained monolith whose mystery takes the heroine deeper into the inhabitants’ perversity as she gradually ascends into the building’s echelons. Another undercurrent of the film consciously constructs all manner of mythic allusions – notably the various Wizard of Oz recreations, the heroine named Eve who comes from Kansas and returns there at the end, and red shoes left Cinderella-like at a crucial scene.

The incredibly beautiful Candice Daly gives a fine performance and makes for a highly convincing innocent. Although in a sad case of life mirroring art and in particular the plot where she finds her own sister’s body here having been drugged and left for dead, Candice Daly was found dead in her own L.A. apartment from a drug overdose in 2004.

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