Liquid Sky (1983)

Liquid SkyStarring Anne Carlisle, Paula Sheppard, Susan Doukas, Otto von Wernherr, Bob Brady.
Written by Slava Tsukerman and Anne Carlisle.
Directed by Slava Tsukerman.

Grade: B

Review by Jeff Vorndam.

Slava Tsukerman's low-budget (half a million) sci-fi new-wave cult classic is a cut-up. It would be laughably bad if it weren't so good. During a screening of Liquid Sky at the 1999 San Francisco International Film Festival, Tsukerman was in the audience to answer questions, and he said the film grew out of his budget limitations. How do you make a film about an alien invasion without a large budget? By making the aliens small, of course.

The aliens arrive in a flying saucer that is almost literally a saucer. They ostensibly come to Earth for the heroin, but soon discover that chemicals released when humans orgasm are better opiates than heroin. As a result, they hang around a young model named Margeret (Anne Carlisle) who is constantly bothered for sex. When her partners climax the aliens move in to seize their drugs, simulataneously killing their prey. Hilariously, this is shown onscreen with a glass shard sticking out the back end of the victim's head, and later by simply having the victim *blip* off the screen.

Tsukerman is a Russian immigrant--he had been in the States only three years when he made Liquid Sky. His ear for dialogue is really really bad. Lines like, "You are an ugly chicken!" are commonly tossed about with awkward vehemence by the untrained and goofy cast. Much of the humor comes from the stilted dialogue and editing techniques, which leave you chuckling at the previous scene when the new one begins. Tsukerman cross-cuts throughout the film; there are always at least two scenes happening simultaneously.

The bad acting accounts for the "cult" part, but what about the "classic" part? Tsukerman casts Anne Carlisle in dual roles as male and female models. (She also co-wrote the script.) Her forced husky male persona is funny but also trippy when she has a sex scene with Margeret. I'm not sure what Tsukerman is trying to say by having the same person have sex with herself (a male half raping the female half in this case, only to *blip* away when climaxing), but it's a seamless special effect. During the question and answer session, Tsukerman's most astounding revelation was that his cast and crew were drug-free during production.

Review © April 1999 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
© Cinevista/Z Films, Inc.

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