Invisible aliens in a tiny flying saucer come to Earth looking for heroin. They land on top of a New York apartment inhabited by a drug dealer and her female, androgynous, bisexual nymphomaniac lover, a fashion model. The aliens soon find the human pheromones created in the brain during orgasm preferable to heroin, and the model’s casual sex partners begin to disappear.
This increasingly bizarre scenario is observed by a lonely woman in the building across the street, a German scientist who is following the aliens, and an equally androgynous, drug-addicted male model. (Both models are played by Anne Carlisle, in a dual role.) Darkly funny and thoroughly weird.
Liquid Sky is an independent American science fiction film. It debuted at the Montreal Film festival in August 1982 and was well received at several film festivals thereafter. It was produced with a budget of $500,000. It became the most successful independent film of 1983 grossing $1.7 million in the first several months of release. The film is seen as heavily influencing a club scene that emerged in the early 2000s in Brooklyn, Berlin, Paris, and London called electroclash.
About the Story
Amidst the bohemian new wave subculture of New York City in the early 1980s, an avant garde fashion show is to be held in a new wave nightclub in Manhattan. Among the models are bisexual Margaret (Anne Carlisle) and Jimmy (also played by Carlisle). Jimmy is Margaret’s rival and nemesis. An apparent drug addict, he constantly hassles Margaret’s heroin-dealer girlfriend Adrian (Paula E. Sheppard) for drugs but has no money to pay for them.
Before the show, Jimmy suggests to Margaret that they go to her place, but once there he only cares about finding Adrian’s stash of heroin (known in New York in the ’70s and ’80s as liquid sky). An alien spacecraft — about the size of a dinner plate — lands on the rooftop of Margaret and Adrian’s penthouse apartment. A tiny, shapeless alien watches the apartment from inside the UFO.
Adrian performs “Me and My Rhythm Box” at the club. Margaret and Jimmy return to the club to participate in the show. During preparations, both agree to a photo shoot the following night on Margaret’s rooftop. They are assured there will be plenty of drugs available.
Margaret and Jimmy perform in the nightclub fashion show. Seeking cocaine, Margaret connects with Californian soap opera actor and son of a TV producer, Vincent (Jack Adalist) who is offering cocaine to all the women at the club. Back at Margaret’s apartment she rejects Vincent when all he offers are Quaaludes, but he beats and rapes her.
Across town, middle class Katherine (Elaine C. Grove) revoices her objection to the heroin use of her boyfriend, failed writer and heroin addict Paul (Stanley Knap). German scientist Johann Hoffman (Otto Von Wernherr) arrives in New York, and secretly observes the aliens from the Empire State Building observation deck. At the apartment Paul buys heroin from Adrian, and tries to seduce Margaret.
Jimmy has lunch with his image conscious mother, Sylvia (Susan Doukas), a television producer. She tries to connect with him, but Jimmy’s main interest is in obtaining money from her. Johann needs somewhere to continue his surveillance of the alien when the observation deck closes. He seeks help from the only person he knows in America, college drama teacher Owen (Bob Brady). Owen fobs Johann off as he plans to go meet a former student, Margaret.
Seeking a vantage point on his own, Johann seeks access to an apartment building adjacent to Margaret’s. This is Sylvia’s building, and lascivious Sylvia, who happens to have a free evening, eagerly invites Johann to her apartment for dinner.
Margaret is seduced by her former acting professor Owen, a representative of the erstwhile hippie generation. He dies as they have sex in view of the aliens, with a crystal embedded in his head. Adrian returns and they clash over Margaret’s dalliance with Owen. Adrian recites a eulogy, helps hide the body, and goes out to buy food for an impromptu wake.
Paul refuses to play host to Katherine’s business clients at a party in her loft, claiming he feels sick. She angrily throws him out. Paul shows up at Margaret’s while Adrian is out, and rapes her. He too dies, with a crystal protruding from his head. The aliens dispose of his body, which instantly disintegrates. An awed and grateful Margaret apparently believes it is the work of an “Indian” god possessing the Empire State Building.
From Sylvia’s apartment, Johann intermittently continues his observation between dinner and dodging Sylvia’s various attempts to seduce him. He leaves to warn Adrian when she buys provisions for the wake. Rebuked by Adrian, who thinks he is a narc, he returns to Sylvia.
Liquid Sky (1983)
Directed by: Slava Tsukerman
Starring: Anne Carlisle, Paula E. Sheppard, Susan Doukas, Otto von Wernherr, Bob Brady, Elaine C. Grove, Stanley Knapp, Christine Hatfull
Screenplay by: Slava Tsukerman, Anne Carlisle
Production Design by: Marina Levikova
Cinematography by: Yuri Neyman
Film Editing by: Sharyn L. Ross, Slava Tsukerman
Costume Design by: Marina Levikova
Music by: Brenda I. Hutchinson, Clive Smith, Slava Tsukerman
Distributed by: Cinevista, Media Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 15, 1983