Tuesday, March 13, 2018

LIQUID SKY (1982) (Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray Review)

LIQUID SKY (1982) 

Label: Vinegar Syndrome

Release Date: Date: April 24th, 2018
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rated: R
Duration: 112 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Slava Tsukerman
Cast: Anne Carlisle, Paula E. Sheppard, Bob Brady, Susan Doukas

Synopsis: Liquid Sky – a term referring to heroin in the New York City slang of the day – aliens arrive in the city in miniature flying saucers in search of heroin. However, an experiment reveals that the chemical released in the human brain during orgasm is just as powerful, even preferable to the drug they crave. Hanging around the young Margaret’s apartment, the aliens are able to achieve their desired fix. However, Margaret’s numerous casual sex partners soon each begin to die a mysterious death.

Liquid Sky (1982) is a strange one, a new wave art damaged slice of science fiction set in NYC during the early 80's new wave fashion scene, a place that is populated by vibrant, often annoying, face painted fashionistas with angular coifs of hair that are hopelessly addicted to fame, drugs and casual sex. The film could stand on it's own as just an exploration of this self-absorbed new wave scene, but director Slava Tsukerman adds into the equation a science fiction element, the arrival of tiny invisible aliens that fly into NYC inside a pie-tin sized flying saucer, perching themselves atop an apartment building where they hope to score their Earthly drug of choice, heroin. The aliens begin to observe the life of a young fashion model named Margret (Anne Carlisle) who lives in the penthouse flat of the apartment, she's an androgynous bi-sexual model who has multiple sexual partners and a long list of issues. When the aliens discover that the chemical produced by the human brain during sexual orgasm is even better than a heroin high they begin to feed on her various lovers, who seem to evaporate after sex, victims of the tiny, invisible alien menace - who are never seen, they're just represented by a Predator-vision sort of POV, it's the rare sci-fi film that doesn't showcase the aliens, I'm sure this is a budgetary limitation. 

As I said before, this cult-classic is weird, real weird, I had toAlice Sweet Alice), who memorably performs a song in the film, singing a tune called "Me and My Rhythm Box".
watch it twice before I could even grasp the plot such as it was, it's thin on narrative, but awash with day-glow new wave style and shocking exploitation elements, including drug culture, rape and eventually incest. Margaret's world is populated by a cast of underground weirdos and fashion-culture enablers, from her sibling fashion rival Jimmy (also played by Carlisle in a deliciously twisted dual role), and her heroin dealer/performance artist flatmate Adrian (Paula E. Sheppard,

As the movie carries along we see a fashion show and a photo shoot, Margaret is deeply unhappy and constantly sparring with her rival Jimmy, sleeping with various hanger-ons, including her former acting teacher, an older man named Owen (Bob Brady) who is one of the first victims of the aliens. Margaret is later raped by in a stairwell by a TV actor, who escapes the alien post-sex alien harvesting because he does so out of the sight in the stairwell, but when Margaret comes to realizes that aliens are murdering her lovers she tracks down the rapist and seduces him at a club, luring him back to her place, empowering herself through the knowledge that he will be killed. 

Separate from all this we have a German scientist named Johann Hoffman (Otto Von Wernherr) who for some reason is well aware of the alien menace and what they're about, he observes them from a building adjacent to Margaret's, a apartment owned by a shrimp-loving woman named Sylvia (Susan Doukas) who is seriously lusting after her new found German friend whom she has only just met, but the determined scientist rebuffs her as he spies on Margaret through a telescope. 

The finale is a bit of a head-scratching/shocker, with Margaret giving an incestuously fatal blow-job followed by a series of events I'm still not quite sure I comprehend fully, if there is any such notion with this strange art-damaged slice of cult-cinema. I don't think I particularly enjoyed Liquid Sky the two times I watched it, but I was fascinated by it, I couldn't look away and it kept my attention right up until the end. 

Audio/Video: Liquid Sky arrives on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome restored in 4k from the 35mm original negative, framed in 1.85:1 widescreen. The strange film looks truly fantastic, the 80's new wave patina is vibrant and glorious, grain is nicely managed and skin tones look natural. The lone audio options is an English language DTS-HD MA Mono 1.0 presentation, the electronic/synth score from the director is overpowering (and often annoying) but comes through powerfully, often drowning out bits of dialogue. Optional English subtitles are provided. 

The extras on this release are mighty extensive, we have an optional intro from the director, a nearly hour-long making of retrospective, an audio commentary with director Slava Tsukerman and Actress Anne Carlisle, an Alamo Drafthouse Q/A, rehearsal footage outtakes, an isolated score, alternate opening sequence, and a series of promos, trailers and TV spots for the film.    

The dual-format release comes housed in a clear Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of artwork, one side featuring the original movie poster and the other a new illustration from Derek Gabryszak, the discs themselves feature the same artwork as the reversible sleeve. 

Special Features: 
- Introduction by Director Slava Tsukerman (1 min)  
- Audio Commentary with Director Slava Tsukerman and Actress Anne Carlisle 
- Interview with Slava Tsukerman (16 min)
- Interview with Actress Anne Carlisle (10 min) 
- Alamo Drafthouse screening Q/A with Tsukerman, Carlisle and Clive Smith (co-composer) (37 min) 
- “Liquid Sky Revisited” (2017) (53 min)
- Behind-the- scenes rehearsal footage (12 min) 
- Never-before-seen outtakes (13 min)
- Isolated soundtrack
- Alternate opening sequence (10 min) 
- Photo gallery (2 min) 
- Reversible cover artwork by Derek Gabryszak
- Multiple Trailers (4 min) 

Liquid Sky (1982) doesn't have the most coherent of stories but it certainly has it's own unique identity and language, there's certainly no other movie quite like it, this highly recommended to dedicated seekers of strange avant-garde cinema, and the Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome looks and sounds phenomenal. 

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