Liquid Sky (1983)

R | 112 mins | Science fiction | 15 April 1983

Director:

Slava Tsukerman

Producer:

Slava Tsukerman

Cinematographer:

Yuri Neyman

Production Designer:

Marina Levikova-Neyman

Production Company:

Z Films
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HISTORY

       According to the 31 Aug 1983 Var, filmmaker Slava Tsukerman began his collaboration with actress/screenwriter Anne Carlisle following her audition for a role in another of his films. A former art student, Carlisle had already completed a film of her own, and was involved in New York City’s “avant-garde club scene.” After she and Nina Kerova, Tsukerman’s wife, began writing the screenplay for Liquid Sky, Tsukerman introduced the extraterrestrial element to the story, and emphasized the characters’ decadent behavior while portraying them as articulate, intelligent people. The budget was approximately $500,000, supplied by executive producer Robert Field, a real estate developer. Much of the primary photography took place in Carlisle’s New York City apartment, which she felt compelled to vacate after the film was completed.
       Tsukerman told the 22 Nov 1983 Village Voice that the screenplay was founded on “the crisis of relationships between the sexes,” with an emphasis on the female perspective. Rather than characterizing it as a science fiction film, Tsukerman compared Liquid Sky to the historical epics, Barry Lyndon (1975, see entry) and Raging Bull (1980, see entry), explaining that all three protagonists struggled in vain to improve their circumstances. He also drew inspiration from the contemporary “new wave” movement, noting that its participants “exaggerate the conflicts of society, exposing its contradictions,” and danced in a manner that might appeal to an alien being.
       The 2 Dec 1983 Back Stage reported that the neon tubing used in the film was purchased from a second-hand dealer in the Harlem district of New ...

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       According to the 31 Aug 1983 Var, filmmaker Slava Tsukerman began his collaboration with actress/screenwriter Anne Carlisle following her audition for a role in another of his films. A former art student, Carlisle had already completed a film of her own, and was involved in New York City’s “avant-garde club scene.” After she and Nina Kerova, Tsukerman’s wife, began writing the screenplay for Liquid Sky, Tsukerman introduced the extraterrestrial element to the story, and emphasized the characters’ decadent behavior while portraying them as articulate, intelligent people. The budget was approximately $500,000, supplied by executive producer Robert Field, a real estate developer. Much of the primary photography took place in Carlisle’s New York City apartment, which she felt compelled to vacate after the film was completed.
       Tsukerman told the 22 Nov 1983 Village Voice that the screenplay was founded on “the crisis of relationships between the sexes,” with an emphasis on the female perspective. Rather than characterizing it as a science fiction film, Tsukerman compared Liquid Sky to the historical epics, Barry Lyndon (1975, see entry) and Raging Bull (1980, see entry), explaining that all three protagonists struggled in vain to improve their circumstances. He also drew inspiration from the contemporary “new wave” movement, noting that its participants “exaggerate the conflicts of society, exposing its contradictions,” and danced in a manner that might appeal to an alien being.
       The 2 Dec 1983 Back Stage reported that the neon tubing used in the film was purchased from a second-hand dealer in the Harlem district of New York City, and refurbished by director of photography/special effects artist Yuri Neyman. He then augmented the neon with incandescent lights and gels, which were duplicated by production designer Marina Levikova-Neyman in three colors to suit day, night, and twilight photography. Neyman was able to accomplish a series of special effects, estimated at a contemporary value of $700,000, for $45,000 by building his own system, comprised of an Oxberry shuttle, a Debri camera built in 1929, and one of the first flight simulators designed for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
       Liquid Sky premiered 24 Aug 1982 at the Montreal World Film Festival in Montreal, Canada, where it won a special jury award, then opened in Los Angeles, CA, the following year on 15 Apr 1983. The 29 Mar 1983 HR announced two midnight screenings at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival in May 1983, and additional U.S. openings in New York City and San Francisco, CA, both in Apr 1983. An article in the 24 Aug 1983 LAT reported that the film grossed only $33,000 during its first five weeks in Los Angeles, while earning more than three times that amount in New York City. This was attributed to an unsuccessful Los Angeles marketing campaign aimed at an adolescent audience. A new campaign targeting an adult audience was launched, followed by engagements at two “art-house” theaters, both of which lasted several months.
       The film garnered positive reviews, and won awards at festivals in Sydney, Australia, and Cartagena, Columbia, as noted in the 29 Jun 1983 HR and the 25 Aug 1984 Screen International, respectively. More than two years after its release, Liquid Sky became a popular midnight feature in New York City, according to the 26 Jun 1985 Var, and was then currently in distribution around the world.
      End credits include the following statements: "Models of fashion show courtesy of Larocka Talent Company"; "Art objects in Sylvia's apartment, copyright ©Aaronel De Roy Gruber"; "Musical score with the exception of the song 'Me And My Rhythm Box' and music in disco was realized on the Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument at the Public Access Synthesizer Studio (PASS) in New York City"; "Special thanks to: Alexander Hammid, Howard Sochurek, Arielle Pelenc, James Ean, Dan McMaster, Ray Emeritz, Lui Cangiano, Charles Goldstein, Carl Fortunato, Stan Velcheck, Emil Antzic, Mik Cribben, Michael Kaplan."

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Back Stage
2 Dec 1983
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 1982
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 1983
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 1983
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 1983
p. 9
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 1983
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 1983
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Apr 1983
p. 6
Los Angeles Times
24 Aug 1983
---
New York Times
22 Jul 1983
p. 10
Screen International
25 Aug 1984
---
Variety
1 Sep 1982
p. 18
Variety
6 Jul 1983
---
Variety
31 Aug 1983
---
Variety
26 Jun 1985
---
Village Voice
22 Nov 1983
p. 77
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
Asst cam
Gaffer
Key grip
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Margaret's mask and UFO des by
COSTUMES
Ward supv
Ward Seamstress
MUSIC
Orig mus by
Orig mus by
Orig mus by
SOUND
Sd rec
Boom
Re-rec mixer
Sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Mechanical des for spec eff
Titles by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Make-up of Margaret and models in fashion show/Hai
of Cinandre
Asst make-up at fashion show
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting dir
Addl casting
Prod exec
Financial controller
Scr supv
Asst casting
Asst casting
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
STAND INS
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Fight coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
MUSIC
Musical score includes excepts from "Epitalamo" of Trionío Di Afrodite by Carl Orff; "La Sonnerie De Genevieve Du Mont De Paris," by Marin Marais; "Laurel Waltz," by Anthony Philip Heinrich; Music in disco: Excerpts from "Beautiful Bend," by Boris Midney.
SONGS
"Me And My Rhythm Box," music by Anatole Gerasimov and Helena Zvereva, lyrics by Slava Tsukerman, performed by Paula E. Sheppard.
PERFORMED BY
SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 April 1983
Premiere Information:
Premiered at Montreal World Film Festival: 24 Aug 1982; Los Angeles opening: 15 Apr 1983; New York opening: 22 Jul 1983
Production Date:

Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
112
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In New York City, a small, saucer-shaped spacecraft lands on the roof of an apartment building. Its occupant, a creature without a physical body, takes refuge in a ceramic mask on the wall of the penthouse. At a nearby dance club, models Jimmy and Margaret appear in a fashion show. Jimmy is desperate for a shot of heroin, but is frustrated by Adrian, Margaret’s lesbian lover, who refuses to sell him the drug on credit. Afterward, Jack, a photographer, confirms plans for a session at Margaret’s apartment the following night. Elsewhere in the city, Paul, a failed artist, prepares to inject himself with heroin, assuming it will provide him with inspiration, but is thwarted by his wife, Katherine. At the club, Margaret meets a young actor named Vincent, and invites him to her penthouse. When they reach the apartment, Vincent forces Margaret to take barbiturates, beats her into submission, and rapes her. The next day, astrophysicist Johann Hoffman scans the city with an electronic device from atop the Empire State Building, and discovers the presence of the alien in Margaret and Adrian’s penthouse, where Paul is injecting himself with heroin. Later, Johann discusses his research with Owen, Margaret’s acting instructor, who is skeptical of his friend’s stories of extraterrestrial creatures in search of heroin, and of unexplained deaths in the punk rock community that occur during sexual intercourse. At a diner, Adrian offers no sympathy when Margaret relates the story of her rape, but enthusiastically discusses her plans to launch a singing career in Berlin, Germany. Meanwhile, Jimmy lunches with his youthful mother, Sylvia, and begs her ...

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In New York City, a small, saucer-shaped spacecraft lands on the roof of an apartment building. Its occupant, a creature without a physical body, takes refuge in a ceramic mask on the wall of the penthouse. At a nearby dance club, models Jimmy and Margaret appear in a fashion show. Jimmy is desperate for a shot of heroin, but is frustrated by Adrian, Margaret’s lesbian lover, who refuses to sell him the drug on credit. Afterward, Jack, a photographer, confirms plans for a session at Margaret’s apartment the following night. Elsewhere in the city, Paul, a failed artist, prepares to inject himself with heroin, assuming it will provide him with inspiration, but is thwarted by his wife, Katherine. At the club, Margaret meets a young actor named Vincent, and invites him to her penthouse. When they reach the apartment, Vincent forces Margaret to take barbiturates, beats her into submission, and rapes her. The next day, astrophysicist Johann Hoffman scans the city with an electronic device from atop the Empire State Building, and discovers the presence of the alien in Margaret and Adrian’s penthouse, where Paul is injecting himself with heroin. Later, Johann discusses his research with Owen, Margaret’s acting instructor, who is skeptical of his friend’s stories of extraterrestrial creatures in search of heroin, and of unexplained deaths in the punk rock community that occur during sexual intercourse. At a diner, Adrian offers no sympathy when Margaret relates the story of her rape, but enthusiastically discusses her plans to launch a singing career in Berlin, Germany. Meanwhile, Jimmy lunches with his youthful mother, Sylvia, and begs her for cash, hoping to replenish his drug supply, but is disappointed when she offers him a check. Sylvia enters the lobby of her apartment building, where she encounters Johann, who asks to use her home as a base to observe the penthouse. Meanwhile, Owen visits Margaret and criticizes her lifestyle and fashion sense, then proceeds to seduce her. When he dies during intercourse, Margaret discovers a glass spike lodged in his skull, which vanishes when she removes it. Adrian returns home to find Owen’s corpse and threatens to have sex with it. After an angry exchange, the women hide the body in a cardboard box. While Adrian visits a liquor store, Paul arrives in search of heroin, but instead seduces Margaret. He also dies while making love. She prays to the Empire State Building, asking it to remove the body, and Paul’s corpse disappears. Johann intercepts Adrian at the liquor store and warns her of the danger lurking in her home, but she ignores the advice, believing Johann to be a police officer. Returning to Sylvia’s apartment, Johann explains that the aliens feed on opiates such as heroin, but have developed a preference for the chemical produced by the human brain during orgasm. That evening, the penthouse is overrun by Jimmy, Jack, and their entourage of assistants, stylists, makeup artists, and hangers-on. Among them is Nellie, a reporter from Midnight magazine, who asks to interview Margaret while insulting her fashion choices. When Margaret dismisses Nellie’s style as “what America wants,” Jack and his minions are inspired to create a photographic essay featuring Margaret and Jimmy as “the two Miss Americas,” which will conclude with the pair uniting in sexual intercourse. Neither is agreeable to the idea, and Jimmy becomes verbally and physically abusive toward Margaret, until he is subconsciously coerced by the alien to make love to her. As Jimmy reaches orgasm, his body disintegrates, and Margaret blames herself for his death. Unable to believe what she has witnessed, Adrian bets $300 that she can survive sex with Margaret, but she also disintegrates. Afterward, Margaret declares that her vagina is deadly, then tells Nellie the story of her dismal, frustrating life. Margaret disbands the party and goes to the dance club, where she finds Vincent. She invites him to her home and he meets the same fate as her previous lovers. When Johann arrives at the penthouse and warns Margaret about the alien, she is enticed by the idea and begs the creature to make love to her. She silences Johann by stabbing him, then injects herself with heroin. Concerned about Johann’s safety, Sylvia enters the penthouse to find Margaret convulsing on the roof as the spacecraft hovers nearby. The ship emits a beam of light, Margaret vanishes, and it flies away.

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Offscreen Credit
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