Liquid Sky  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Liquid Sky is a 1982 science fiction film produced and directed by Slava Tsukerman that has become a cult classic on the midnight movie circuit and to electroclash afficionados. The film is often shown in a double bill with Café Flesh.

Production details

The screenplay, which features an absurd storyline, was written by Slava, his wife Nina Kerova, and Anne Carlisle, and the director of photography, Yuri Neyman was a special-effects expert from the Soviet Union. Anne Carlisle also wrote a novel based on the movie (same title, ISBN 0-385-23930-0) in 1987.

The film had a $500,000 budget, which meant that Tsukerman and his wife had to use a renovated Greenwich Village loft as the sound stage. The music for the film was performed on the Fairlight CMI, the first digital sampler/synthesiser. Much of it was original, while some songs were interpretations of music by Baroque composer Marin Marais. The film is out of print and only a limited number of VHS tape re-issues and DVDs were produced. The film, however, does run occasionally on the Sundance Channel.


The story follows the early 1980s New York dance/art scene in which space aliens land to feed off of endorphins released during sex or heroin use. Their hat box-sized spaceship lands on the roof of a loft occupied by two junkies: fashion model Margaret and her girlfriend Adrian. Another junkie, Jimmy (also played by Anne Carlisle) is her rival and enemy. The animosity between the two is vague, but potent.

Jimmy's upper-class, oversexed mother befriends a German scientist who is secretly observing the aliens. He also serves to explain the aliens' premise to the audience.

Margaret has sexual encounters (some wanted, some not), resulting in the deaths of her partners. Getting rid of the bodies becomes a problem until the aliens answer her call to vaporize them automatically when they die.

Paula Sheppard (as Adrian) acts in a memorable performance art piece entitled Me and My Rhythm Box.

The film is full of memorable, colorful, and disturbing images, including middle class slumming, glow-in-the-dark makeup, funky uptown lofts, and generally druggy behavior. Several shots make the Empire State building look uncannily like a syringe.

The novel follows the action and dialogue of the movie very closely, but offers a completely different interpretation. In the novel, both the alien and the German scientist are figments of Margaret's imagination, and the ending is tragic rather than romantic.


Liquid Sky was one of the last true independent films to become a midnight movie hit during the movement's most influential years. As critic Emanuel Levy describes, like many midnight classics, this "perversely beautiful sci-fi movie...appeared out of nowhere."

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Liquid Sky" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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