Liquid Sky (1982):

With the thrust of punk winding down into the rise of Reagan, the early '80s concocted New Wave vogueing as alternative provocation to family-values pacifying -- is it any wonder that Slava Tsukerman's ultra-cultish Lower Manhattan sci-fi orgazmo came out the same year as E.T.? Versus Spielberg's cuddlified Other, the aliens here (kept off screen, occasionally sketched in as disembodied optical nerves) arrive in New York City for pleasure rather than business, namely heroin-highs, although they find something more pungent in the fluids released in human brains during sexual climaxes. So they park their Frisbee-sized spaceship on the trendy penthouse of somnolent bohemian Annie Carlisle, who, when not drifting in and out of the strobe-light club scene or hanging out with the faux-Warhol crowd, is being raped by an Andrew McCarthy-looking creep or prodded by her college professor. Fellas dissolve into puddles upon reaching the big O; German scientist Otto von Wernherr watches all from a telescope across the street, randy Jewish gal Susan Doukas on his lap, while Carlisle's hilariously pissed-off squeeze (Paula E. Sheppard) beats out rhythm-box droning before sitting on a dead guy's face. Solarization ushers in otherworldly P.O.Vs, in the end not as essential to the picture's ingeniously insane scheme as Carlisle's double-duty as vampy-druggy Jimmy, basically a mannequin for David Bowie -- needless to add, it's only a matter of time before she's giving herself a blowjob. Tsukerman's Russian roots emerge through the onslaught of parallel-montage, yet Carlisle (who co-wrote the screenplay) is just as much the piece's auteur, maybe more so. Indeed, as the Day-Glo esoteria eventually settles into shape, it takes the distinctive form of a performance-artist's personal assemblage, a search for identity in post-'70s cultural confusion, deadly orgasms and gender blurs, "I kill with my cunt" as her face floats in the dark, made visible via a mask of fluorescent paint. In the end not merely transgressive, but also perversely affecting and beautiful.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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