The Post-Punk Gender Decay and Ultraviolence of 'Liquid Sky'
By Lazarus Rise
Liquid Sky (1982) is a stimulating, sleazy, absurdist trip that falls into a nihilist concoction where drugs, fashion, and new wave ideals run the world. Disorienting yet amusing, Liquid Sky's deliciously camp acting and feeble synth soundtrack strangely fit into the outlandish world it creates. It displays mind-melting visuals and an artistic erosion of the 1980s New York City subculture. It takes you into another dimension where post-gender and decay are celebrated with aggressive cultural phenomena and surrounded by orgasmic deaths and neon. It had a huge influence on the "no wave' film movement of the eighties and also played a significant role in impacting the electroclash music genre.
It begins when a group of aliens crashes down on a random apartment in NYC looking for heroin and they encounter an androgynous, bisexual, nymphomaniac, fashion model named Margaret and her drug dealer girlfriend. The aliens come to discover that the pheromones released in the brain during orgasms are much more powerful and appealing than heroin. These aliens attach themselves to Margaret, causing anyone that has sex with her to vaporize into thin air. She uses her newfound powers to get revenge on those that have assaulted her. It's angsty underground queer sci-fi. All of the characters have such disdain and dislike for each other that play into the film's environment of its contempt for humanity. Anne Carlisle's performance as playing the dual roles of Margaret and Jimmy, another fashion model who is competing to see who's the pinnacle of aesthetics, blurs the line of genderfuckery confidently.
Liquid Sky is undoubtedly vulgar and in your face with its glow-in-the-dark makeup, big hair, and vicious sense of humor. It displays a level of pretentiousness, but portrays a pseudo-intellectual crowd where no one's truly the winner. They're high fashion and they're miserable. The film turns into a bizarre love story between Margaret and the aliens that inhabit her as they slowly begin to control and take over her. "I kill with my cunt," she monotonously states. Liquid Sky is something that you will not understand much from your first viewing, maybe second. Is it even worth viewing more than once? For its ultraviolet setup and performances, I believe so.
There is a warning for sexual assault in this film.
You can watch the film below:
Lazarus Rise (he/him) is a writer, artist, performer, and creative from Shreveport, Louisiana who now resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado. To stay up-to-date with Lazarus, follow him on Facebook and Instagram @dungeoncowboy.