Liquid Sky (1982)


USA. 1982.


Director/Producer/Music – Slava Tsukerman, Screenplay – Slava Tsukerman, Anne Carlisle & Nina V. Kerova, Photography – Yuri Neyman, Special Effects – Yuri Neyman & Oleg Chiclintsky, Production Design – Marina Levikova. Production Company – Z Films Inc


Anne Carlisle (Margaret/Jimmy), Paula E. Sheppard (Adrian), Otto von Wernherr (Johann), Susan Doukas (Sylvia), Bob Brady (Owen)


A dinner-plate sized flying saucer lands on the rooftop apartment of New Wave fashion model Margaret and her lover Adrian. At the same time, Johann, an astrophysicist from West Germany, arrives in the city, tracking the UFO. Johann believes that the aliens are addicted to the opiates in the brain produced at the moment of orgasm. Margaret soon discovers this as the saucer starts consuming her lovers, both male and female, during sex.

Among the host of films that came out copying the enormous success of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and offering up cute, cuddly alien visitors, Liquid Sky arrived with a refreshing breath of cynicism. Whereas E.T. came to act as a missing friend, and in Close Encounters the aliens arrive to take us back to a state of childhood innocence, the aliens in Liquid Sky are really just intergalactic junkies.

Liquid Sky was made by a group of expatriate Russians living in New York City. The film was briefly touted as a midnight favourite when it came out. Liquid Sky is a film that often provokes an irritated reaction from viewers, although equally inspires others to regard it as brilliant. It is certainly an indulgent film. It taps right into early 1980s New Wave counter culture, celebrating a punk ethos, of drug-taking and a cynically nihilistic take on life. (The title “liquid sky” is apparently street jargon for heroin).

In fact, Liquid Sky‘s cheerfully perverse pretensions are actually its joy. The film is constantly dangling outrages – corpse fucking and tongue-in-cheek rape scenes – at us. In one ingenious moment, director Slava Tsukerman contrives a scene where Anne Carlisle, who plays both the female lead as well as a pouty gay boy, gives herself a blowjob. Liquid Sky comes with an undeniably high degree of pretentiousness – ponderously meaningful dialogue, faux posings by the cast, weird disjointed visual experiments from Tsukerman and a grating synthesizer score. The bizarre New Wave sets and particularly costumes have an imagination and the film is surprisingly well photographed. The greatest aspect though is the performance of the tall, pale androgynous Anne Carlisle who drifts through this world of drugged-out, dull-eyed punk zombies with an elegant regality.

The only other films that Slava Tsukerman has made have been the very obscure Poor Liza (1998), a Russian romantic folk tale, and the documentary Stalin’s Wife (2004), although Tsukerman’s own press release claims that he has made a total of 43 films, many of these under the days of Soviet Russia. Anne Carlisle went onto minor parts in Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) and Crocodile Dundee (1986) and played the lead in Larry Cohen’s Blind Alley/Perfect Strangers (1987), but has since vanished from sight, although she did apparently write a novelisation for Liquid Sky. It is a genuine shame that Carlisle has never gone onto any other parts of any note as she certainly has talent. The idea of aliens coming to harvest humanity for the opiates in the brain was also borrowed for the entertaining action film Dark Angel/I Come in Peace (1990).

Full film available online here:-

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