Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Liquid Sky: Revisiting the Ultimate Restoration

Radiant and impulsive, the disorienting world of Liquid Sky provides an unnerving pin-eyed look into the extraterrestrial terrain of early 1980s New York City club and underground life. Upon its original 1982 release, the film fascinated and appalled audiences. High art disguised as a cult classic. Surrealism collides with harsh reality as the simple sordid pleasures in life unveil their heart of darkness. This voyeuristic and jagged journey dreams its way through gratuitous obsession, lethal sex, and mind quivering fashion with a fevered uniqueness that is hard to categorize.

When I saw this as a young teenager in the late 80s, I was totally freaked out and obsessed with its strangeness. Junkies, models, aliens, and blaring minimalist new wave rhythms induced sensory overload. Life in the big city was full of sex, tons of drugs, violence, and cutthroat attitude. Was this a destination, someone's dark fantasy, or someone else's high definition nightmare? As with all genuine art, the interpretation depends on the viewer. The gracefully distorted narrative allows the subconscious to crackle and burn within its decadent perspective. The only movie I know of that truly depicts a killer orgasm.

Liquid Sky is slang for heroin. It’s everything and nothing. Happiness only lasts until the next time you need more. Anne Carlisle, who also co-wrote the film, stars in the dual role of high fashion model Margaret and her drug fiend nemesis Jimmy. Aliens, traveling by UFO, arrive in NYC to get their hands on the ultimate opiate fix. The search for the perfect high is universal and knows no boundaries. The aliens soon discover that the chemical released in the brain during orgasm achieves an even better high. Margaret's apartment of continuous destructive partners proves to be the perfect breeding ground for obtaining their stash of chemicals. The only problem is the mounting death toll that comes after casual sex.

Blurred sexuality and self destructive relationships detail the permanent neon landscape. Margaret finds empowerment within the chaotic gloss of weaponized fashion and endless depraved partying. The addictive dissonance and hard truths on display make this a mind bending must see. This visually striking film is even more stunning in its new restored format now available on Blu-ray courtesy of cult movie experts Vinegar Syndrome. The groundbreaking direction of Slava Tsukerman and the unforgettable cinematography of Yuri Neyman take on a new life for a new generation. The fine details and sordid nuances pop and scream wildly with a rejuvenated urgency.

In my extended time on this strange planet, I’ve found that society doesn’t really evolve, it just mutates into bizarre new variations. In a world of Instagram, Tinder, and unending feeds seeking to fulfill instant gratification, this cinematic oddity and masterpiece is more relevant than ever in its examination of the hedonistic and tortured human psyche.

Vinegar Syndrome