Cyberpunk Review » Liquid Sky

February 17, 2006

Liquid Sky

Year: 1982

Directed by: Slava Tsukerman

Written by: Anne Carlisle, Nina V. Kerova & Slava Tsukerman

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very Low

Key Cast Members:

  • Margaret/Jimmy: Anne Carlisle
  • Johann Hoffman the Scientist: Otto von Wernherr
  • Rating: 5 out of 10

    Screencap

     

    Overview: Liquid Sky is another movie that makes a number of cyberpunk lists. Personally, I don’t think so. It has absolutely NO cyber aspects (it does have scifi aspects though). However, it’s so strong on the punk side that from a visual standpoint I suppose a case can be made for inclusion. This is a very low-budget art film that is emphasizes “weird” from the get go. If I were to rename it, I would call this “The movie where the Punks say Fuck!” as they do so every other word. The real effort here is NOT in the acting (most is horrible, but Carlisle is decent), or the story, or the pacing. The goal is to create a weird punk immersion that gives the film an other-worldly quality. This is emphasized by the completely non-sensical alien pie-plate spaceship.

     

    Screencap

     

    Liquid Sky takes place in modern times (early 1980s) where a very small alien space ship is looking for a heroin fix and settles on top of a punk-apartment building where drug addicts are the order of the moment. The space ship “steals” the emotional state of the heroin addicts to give itself energy. We soon find out that the aliens can also get their fix from people having orgasms. In line with this, the aliens follow around Margaret (played by Liquid Sky writer, Anne Carlisle, who also plays the role of the androgynous Jimmy in the picture above), who is continually getting raped and forced into having sex with people she doesn’t like. She never orgasms, but her partners always do. At first, the aliens appear to steal this energy by impaling the victims with a crystal scepter, but later, the victims just disappear. Anne starts to think her vagina has the power to kill, and either tries to stop having sex with people she likes (which fails) or seeks out those she hates in order to kill them. All the while, a European scientist, who’s big on the narration (this is the only way we learn what’s going on) is tracking down the alien ship and is attempting to warn the punks.

     

    Screencap

     

    Overview: This movie is a massive cheesefest in every sense of the word. It is quirky enough to be interesting though (hence the 5 stars instead of 4), and is certainly original to the point that I could certainly imagine some enjoying this multiple times. Again, for the moment I’ve decided to include it as a cyberpunk flick, but I’m sorely tempted to move it to the “not cyberpunk” category. Even though the visuals qualify in a strange way, there is no cyberpunk themes to speak of here.

     

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    Tags: cyberpunk movie review LiquidSky

    This post has been filed under 5 Star Rated Movies, B Cyberpunk Cinema, Surreal Cyberpunk Movies, Alien Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 1980-1989 by SFAM.

    Comments

    April 15, 2006

    Glam Creature said:

    I liked this movie ( but soundtrack could be much better).
    In review the characters are called to be “punks”. Punks as subculture stereotipicaly always were and are related more to rock music and culture. Here we see and hear no rock at all. All the characters clothes, make-ups, lifestyle, dancing in the clubs reffer more to “electro” culture. Even the soundtrack is not electro. Of course, electro has connections with punk, as characters are
    “underground freaks” as well punks are, and were is such musical genre as “electro-punk”, but the subculture itself is autonomic from punk. So I think in review should be mentioned movie’s connection with 80’s electro culture.

    SFAM said:

    Hi Glam, yes, this is a good point. Liquid Sky definitely borders more with an androgenous David Bowie, Gary Newman and company than it does Black Flag and so forth. I would still say this is clearly a punk underground movie, but as you mention, there are many shades of “punkness.”

    Glam Creature said:

    I would say it’s art and dance underground movie. Also it needs to notice that this movie is often mentioned as very influental to 90’s-00’s “electroclash” culture ( which is related to 80’s electro and electro revival, but is not the same).

    June 23, 2006

    Dixie Flatline said:

    Believe me I watch a lot of cheesy movies but Liquid Sky is pure trash. There is nothing arty or underground about it. Every aspect of it from script, dialogue, acting up to cinematography and set design is horrendous up to the point where an amateur home video has higher quality. Finally, it has no connection whatsoever to cyberpunk.

    SFAM said:

    Hi Dixie, I think my review indicates my wavering on this, but I decided to include more for the punk - as I state in the review, the visuals are the only portion of this that qualifies as cyberpunk at all. I certainly don’t agree that Liquid Sky is worse than your average amateur home video though - this is a pretty bizarre statement unless you’re just trying to stress your distaste for the flick.

    I also doubt you’ll find virtually any amateur home videos that have the immersive quality that Liquid Sky does - this is truly what the director is after.

    June 24, 2006

    Glam Creature said:

    June 23, 2006
    Dixie Flatline said:”There is nothing arty or underground about it.”
    Motiveless statement; unless you’re an expert in New York’s 80’s underground art, fashion and music tendencies, which are context of this movie.

    October 3, 2006

    br79 said:

    a little side note: There is(was) a New York based Jungle record company named Liguid Sky. They had medium popularity in the early jungle/drum n bass movement around 93-96.

    October 4, 2006

    SFAM said:

    Hi br79, Liquid Sky seems like a great name for an off-beat record company to adopt. It gives it a pretty clear mood right off the bat.

    September 20, 2007

    Anne V.O. said:

    As the director of this movie, S. Tsulerman, sais, this is a movie about the punk-culture, about the philosophie of this subculture. It’s not a simple movie. The caracters are playing themselves. The actress Anne Carlisle was playing her-self. If you watch this movie you should be more open-minded to the art, you should understand the images, think about the film.. what’s it about? The ACID maybe? the drugs? the life of a person who wants to be unique? it’s about the punks in general

    April 22, 2008

    TeleFrank said:

    Dixie Flatline, how can you say there’s nothing arty or underground about Liquid Sky? Even allowing the bad acting and low budget production values, the music, costuming and makeup are totally arty, and all these people seem to know each other from the downtown NYC club scene from way before it became popularized by the infamous NY Club Kids. That would seem to me to be the very definition of underground.

    July 10, 2008

    oldschool_CAS said:

    I hung out in the Liquid Sky retail shop in NYC around 1994….they really helped spark the NYC club/elctro scene in the early to mid 90s….then they dissappered??where did they go…

    June 21, 2010

    Laminator_X said:

    No cyberpunk themes? I’d say that there is enough alienation and de-humanization in this movie to warrant it’s place here. Heroin chic is very CP.

    October 13, 2010

    gomimin said:

    First of all: I love Liquid Sky since i saw it first back in those days!

    But: Nothing to do with Punk! And nothing do with Cyberpunk!

    Underground: yes - Trash: yes (it tells trashy story in best B Movie manner)

    1. Slava is selling himself and his stuff. go YouTube for Cinefamily Q+A Liquid Sky and watch the gesture of surrounding coworkers when he praises himself…(i’m coming to that later at point 5. again)

    2. Punk=No Fun, the “arty” style remembers the last convulsion of New Wave the so called “New Romantics” - The UK Blitz Kids=Fun with Fashion (didn’t someone mention David Bowie…) … i remember well the harsh criticism Punx opposited that…and i remember that term “Punk” is something that even that Cicolina Diva uses to describe her desperate first steps in becoming a “poop star” and guess how she styled herself in the young 80ties… (uuuh i will be back on her too later on in this post) … and most of the cast do look more like Roxy or late stage wannabe Studio54 then Debbie Harry’s CBGB …

    3. Before the term Cyberpunk was coined Authors in that group of Writers called themselves “New Romancers” (funny enough but no relation i hope) - Neuromancers entered stage a little later after Liquid Sky…

    4. Cyberspace doesn’t exsist in Liquid Sky - no machines…no computers, no Interface… and fashion isn’t important in Cyberspace nor as for Cyberpunks (as long you’re not a Tokyo Crossdresser or a Computergame Designer)…

    5. Slava tells about developing the music and reduces the role of his educators at PASS without whom he even wouldn’t be able to switch on a Fairlight. (now look at his Coworkers in the Cinefamily Q+A while he tells about!!!) Brenda Hutchinson and Clive Smith are official Composers for the Film - both well educated and aware of what they are creating (Brenda already performed in THe Kitchen at that time!)… and when talks about his groundbreaking pioneer work with the Fairlight something in my music historical brain screams: Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Yello … hello?!?

    6. Who’s playing the german “scientist” and what’s his relation with Madonna… and what scene did they run around in their spare time … ;-)))

    7. Slava thought it sold that time and that’s why Slava is /was marketing it as “a movie about the punk-culture, about the philosophie of this subculture”…which it isn’t in any way (ask the Beastie Boys or Thurston Moore - ok you can’t ask GG Allin anymory)…

    He tells it himself, he wanted to create a Cult, a successor to Rocky Horror Picture Show (foolishly he forgot Fame wich paved the way for the “let’s work, dance and get famous Cult” which bear the poop divas we still have!)

    8. That girl from Cicinatti didn’t play herself - prolly maybe the fantasies she had of herself - if she would have been able to break her chains…

    Ok- sorry for the long rant, for lotsa missing emoticons that wink and for the bad english - i’m german, 50+ old, long time DJ mainly in Underground and Independent music (which includes early Rap and also Electro), Ex Roadie, with Ties to Punk Culture since it’s first upcoming, also Computer Freak and my nick is a reminiscence of/ at a William Gibson Character

    Thanx for reading!

    No Fun? Get some… ;-) at last

    January 26, 2011

    Michelle said:

    I certainly don’t agree that Liquid Sky is worse than your average amateur home video though. This is a pretty bizarre statement unless you’re just trying to stress your distaste for the flick. Thank you.

    February 9, 2011

    Steve said:

    If you watch this movie you should be more open-minded to the art, you should understand the images, think about the film. Thank you.

    June 7, 2011

    shaddoe said:

    I was just watching this movie, and what struck me immediately is how the fashion and make up look very much like things currently in vogue thanks to Lady Gaga. It wouldn’t surprise me if Gaga is a fan of this film, because it looks like the sort of thing that would be up her ally.

    personally, I like this film. Not sure why I do, but I do. there is a certain ambiance to the film that sucks you in. its weird, its very surreal and avant-garde and as my wife would say ‘artsy-fartsy’.

    September 9, 2011

    Chris said:

    A great little film about nothing; which is pretty much what punks aspire to (at least the ones I’ve known). The characters here want to be famous/successful so they can afford to do nothing except abuse the crap out of themselves and others, which is pretty nihilistic, which is pretty punk; just ask Sid Vicious. Oh wait. You can’t, because he got famous enough that he could afford to lie around all the time shooting up and then killed his girlfriend and overdosed. I’ve always thought of the aliens here as representing disease; those tiny microbes that are always stalking addicts (hepatitis, HIV, various other STDs etc), thriving in the wake of their recklessness.

    September 20, 2011

    Ray Crowe said:

    I wouldn’t call it cyberpunk, but punk most definitely. I hunted this one down in the ’90s on an expensive and long OOP Media VHS after years of wanting to see and initially found it very alienating (pun intended), but after warming up to it consider it one of my all-time favorite films and certainly one of the most unique. This could never be made today or by a major studio and I love it!

    October 14, 2011

    Rex Dart said:

    Great film. Not cyberpunk per se, but it belongs here for its visual impact and influence.

    The closest thing to ‘cyber’ is the soundtrack which was entirely composed on a Series-I Fairlight CMI, the first digital sampling synthesizer.

    October 18, 2011

    Saw it downtown NY 1983 said:

    Brilliant satire of the Downtown NY club/fashion/music/scene of the era. Amazing to me how people who were not there/born yet etc like it and yes get it. Ok now to the genre definitions. The music is what we called “New Wave” now probably “synth-punk” . It wasn’t your three chord “punk rock” or the faster slam dancing “hardcore” version of punk. But you have to understand at the time many in the “mainstream” used Punk and New Wave interchangeably it was all strange, harsh and in your face to them. “Punk circles” was used by the scientist in the film. Ironically just after the film was released the Second British Invasion happened on your MTV with bands like Duran Duran and Tears for Fears which was the much more commercialized synthpop sound that became what was and is to a large extent defined as 80’s New Wave today. Back on topic the film was definitely punk in it’s nihilism as was a lot of pre Duran /Culture Club New Wave A harsher New York version New Romantic in its fashion. The cyber I don’t see, it was an analogue world.

    March 13, 2012

    Torino said:

    If you watch this movie then you need to open your mind to the art and understand the images; to think about the film. I definately do not concur though, that Liquid Sky is worse than your average amateur home video. Unless you are just trying to stress your distaste for the movie, this is a bit of an odd statement.

    July 20, 2013

    spinworthy said:

    spawned in the sixties, emerging in the seventies and losing the plot in the eighties. I was a youth ending my teens and heavily into punk rock when this film came out. every punk motherfucker saw this film, what else do you want to discuss?
    dribble on about post-hoc scenarios to de-legitimize the film’s status in history and you risk sounding like a know-nothing know-it-all who reads other’s comments in order to formulate their own. strange as the movie???….remember taaaaackytaaaaackytaaaaaacky

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