the twilit and allegorical Slava Tsukerman film,
LIQUID SKY (1982),
and the birth of Gen X cinema
by Gary W. Wright
While most observers no doubt point to such twilit, righteously furious and allegorical films such as Quentin Tarentino’s RESERVOIR DOGS (1992) or Bruce MacDonald’s HARD CORE LOGO (1995) as signalling the arrival of a distinct and distinctly disaffected and allegorical Gen X cinema, a number of proto-Gen X allegorical films-such as Luc Besson’s LE DERNIER COMBAT (1983), Alex Cox’ REPO MAN (1984), and James Cameron’s THE TERMINATOR (1984) and ALIENS (1986)-had already announced the arrival by the early Eighties of righteously furious, openly disenchanted, rebellious, riotous and TZ disaster busting film artists who were not afraid to blast the big names of New Hollywood, particularly those intimately linked to the disaster like Kathleen Kennedy, John Landis, Frank Marshall, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, the foolishly sympathetic friend of Kennedy, Marshall and Spielberg. Of all of these early proto-Gen X films of the Eighties, none was more implicitly anti-Lucas and Spielberg, bored, disaffected, frustrated, idiosyncratic, independent, infuriated, raucous, rebellious, weird, wacky and comically, but endearingly, amateurish than the allegorical and Ozian themed Slava Tsukerman film, LIQUID SKY (1982).
For with its strange story, open and indignant disaffection, discordant editing, odd synthesized score and sound effects, sexual fluidity, sardonic and obscenity laced dialogue, unsympathetic characters, rampant drug use, graphic sex and violence, drug and orgasm addicted vampiric alien invader, and implicitly furious roasting of Lucas and Spielberg and their addictive f/x filled film art, LIQUID SKY contained most of the elements that would go on to characterize Gen X cinema, culture, life and literature. Thus, it was fitting that LIQUID SKY first appeared at the Montreal World Film Festival in August of 1982-where a knowing jury fittingly awarded the film the Special Prize-only weeks after the July 23, 1982 helicopter crash that killed actor/writer/director Vic Morrow and child extras Renee Chen and Myca Le on the John Landis set of the Landis, Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller directed allegorical film, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983). For this August appearance made LIQUID SKY the first allegorical film to implicitly express the anger and outrage that swept Gen X audiences after the TZ disaster and caused them to rise up against New Hollywood film artists and their film art in general, and against Kennedy, Landis, Lucas, Marshall and Spielberg and their film art, in particular. An iconoclastic and prescient outrage that was weirder and clearer than ever now that LIQUID SKY was back in cleaned up Bluray and DVD versions-ironically arriving just in time to make the outraged film a target of the equally outraged #MeToo movement-which made it a perfect time to take a closer look at this unusual and unforgettable film.
‘It’s always high-so am I!’
Curiously, after the title of the film flashed on the screen, LIQUID SKY began with a shot of a light blue face mask of lead actor Anne Carlisle mounted on an apartment wall as the credits flashed by. This face mask immediately linked the film to personal and hand crafted art for art’s sake and, by implication, indie film art for indie film art’s sake. The face mask was centred on a painting between a circular blue neon light lying horizontally overtop an oval and vertical pink neon light, a feminine pink and masculine blue combination that prepared us for Carlisle’s dual appearance as the implicitly Dorothy linked Margaret and the implicitly Cowardly Lion linked Jimmy, two anti-mainstream, bored, disaffected, drug using, bisexual and peroxide blonde New Wave fashion models, their Ozian link evoking the Ozian linked characters of such allegorical and Ozian themed Lucas films as AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973) and STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977), to implicitly affirm that Tsukerman was roasting Lucas on one level in LIQUID SKY.
Curiously but fittingly, the neon in the room also evoked the emphasis on neon throughout the allegorical and eerily and presciently twilit Sir Ridley Scott film, BLADE RUNNER (1982), released in late June of ’82 only months before the August appearance of LIQUID SKY at the Montreal World Film Festival. This prescien implication that LIQUID SKY was the first film to respond to BLADE RUNNER was quickly made again when the camera point of view (POV) pulled back from the double neon framed face mask to reveal a neon sign filled apartment that evoked the neon tube lit strip club dressing room of the renegade replicant, Zhora-played by Joanna Cassidy-in BLADE RUNNER. Significantly, this presciently implicit link to BLADE RUNNER was reaffirmed when the POV retreated even further via jump cut to reveal that the neon lit apartment was actually a small penthouse suite located atop a building in a New York City nightscape with the World Trade Center complex seen in front of the building, and the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building located not far behind-the latter storied building evoking the allegorical and blockbuster beast roasting Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack film, KING KONG (1933).
For these retreating jump cuts from the softly lit interior of a penthouse suite out into an exterior nighttime cityscape filled with towering buildings evoked the advancing jump cuts from an exterior hellish nighttime cityscape into the softly lit interior of a room located in another towering building, in this case one of the two Tyrell Corporation pyramids, at the beginning of BLADE RUNNER, in the first of many reversals of that film in LIQUID SKY. We soon discovered that one of the shots of Margaret’s neon lit penthouse suite was actually from the apartment windows of Sylvia-played by Susan Doukas-a television producer, mother of Jimmy and implicit Wicked Witch of the West who was clearly already keeping an evil crystal ball eye on Margaret and her dimunitive and, hence, implicitly Toto linked companion, Adrian-played by Paula E. Sheppard-who also had a Wicked fondness for black clothing and a dash of foul mouthed Munchkin mischief maker thrown in for good measure. A wicked regard that was somehow fitting, given that the name of Margaret evoked that of Margaret Hamilton, who played the implicitly Wallis Simpson linked Wicked Witch of the West in the allegorical and implicitly Simpson roasting Victor Fleming film, THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939).
Curiously, the shots of the penthouse suite and the zoom out into the New York nightscape were intercut with shots of a gay New Wave dance club, a club that evoked both Munchkinland and Taffy’s, the Chinatown strip club where ‘blade runner’ replicant hunter Rick Deckard-played by Harrison Ford-tracked down Zhora in BLADE RUNNER. Here the idiosyncratically dressed Munchkin clubbers literally danced to a different synthesized drum beat than that heard in the penthouse scenes, a synthesized score that evoked the synthesized score Vangelis composed for BLADE RUNNER. Significantly, this discordant and disorienting montage of shots of the New Wave Munchkinland club intercut with interior shots of the neon sign lit room and New York nightscape recalled the equally discordant and disorienting montage of interior underworld shots that began the first allegorical Lucas film, THX 1138 (1971).
Significantly, THX 1138 was a rebellious film manifesto that implicitly and satirically blasted the drugged up and listless student and youth underground of the Sixties and defiantly proclaimed the Lucas goal of leaving that disaffected underground behind and succeeding as a quirky, independent and J.D. Jedi mainstream film artist as surely as Robert Duvall’s shaven headed underground asylum inmate worker THX 1138 left behind a huvine underground society and climbed a ladder up and out of the subterranean herd and into the setting sun of the Old Hollywood era at the end of the film, a freedom achieved by Lucas with the resounding and triumphant successes of AMERICAN GRAFFITI and STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE. Thus, alluding to Lucas and THX 1138 at the beginning of LIQUID SKY prepared us not only for another satirical and sly fi themed roast of an underground druggie culture-in this case the early Eighties New Wave scene in New York-and implicitly reaffirmed that the film would roast Lucas and his addictive, special effects filled and Ozian themed STAR WARS Classic Trilogy on another level, but also prepared us for leaving behind the Lucas era at the end of the film. In fact, this implicit interest in roasting addictive special f/x filled sly fi film art like that of Lucas was quickly reaffirmed, for the opening and scene setting montage prologue concluded with a tragicomic alien invasion.
Indeed, a ridiculously tiny flying saucer was seen appearing out of nowhere in the New York nightscape like the floating bubble of Glinda the Good, the tornado tossed Kansas farmhouse carrying Dorothy and Toto to Oz or a flying L. A. police car-known as a ‘spinner’-in BLADE RUNNER, moving so slowly it appeared to be moving…without moving. Significantly, the tiny UFO also evoked the equally dimunitive flying saucer filled with tiny astronauts from Earth that arrived on a planet of human-like giants and who battled one of the giants in the allegorical Douglas Heyes telefilm, ‘The Invaders’ (1961), a season two episode of the original TWILIGHT ZONE television series that perhaps explored the arrival of the small screen and the subsequent battle between the small tv screen and the big silver screen for the allegiance of audiences in the Fifties and Sixties given that film star Agnes Moorehead played the mute and unnamed giantess who battled the tiny terran astronauts occupying the flying saucer. Thus, LIQUID SKY was eerily but fittingly linked to the Twilight Zone and to twilit disasters right from the beginning of the film only a month after the TZ disaster, implicitly making LIQUID SKY the first film to presciently and righteously blast the TZ disaster in the dread allegorical Zone Wars, as well as the first film to implicitly reply to BLADE RUNNER. The link to ‘The Invaders’ also prepared us for another battle between a twilit and dimunitive alien and towering giants in LIQUID SKY.
Curiously, this tiny UFO slowly descended and landed on the roof overlooking the balcony of the penthouse suite. Here its twilit and dimunitive alien occupant-or was that dimunitive and alienated human occupant?-quickly used its single cyclopsean eye and its psychedelic infrared vision to study the interior of the neon lit penthouse suite via a mirror left in a corner of the balcony, a mirror reflection that created a strange and distorted funhouse mirror world, a mirrorworld made flesh in the avant garde New Wave fashion, music and poetry circle of Margaret and her mostly gay friends. Significantly, the alien took a particular interest in Margaret’s double neon framed face mask on the far wall facing the windows and open stained glass door overlooking the balcony and its reflecting mirror, sensing, finding and consuming the heroin Adrian hid behind the mask-a masked heroin stash that reminded us that ‘blade runner’ was slang for heroin addict. This vampiric consumption occurred in a psychedelic infrared effects sequence that implicitly saw the euphoria the twilit alien invader felt in consuming the drug swell into a Death Star evoking coloured ball that peaked in swollen moon size before slowly dwindling and fading away, reaffirming that the film was implicitly roasting Lucas on one level. And with the fading away of the deadly pleasure moon, the prologue ended and Act One began.
‘We’ll go to my place, it’s not far.’
Act One introduced Jimmy and Adrian first-the latter wearing a Wicked black dress-who were met at the mirrorworld Munchkinland nightclub soon after the alien invader experienced its first psychedelic infrared high, linking them to the twilit alien drug fiend and implying that they, too, were twilit, alien and alienated. Indeed, this implicit link to the alien was reaffirmed by the fact that on this first meeting the dapper and sneering Jimmy-who evoked both Rutger Hauer’s renegade replicant leader, Roy Batty, and the equally well dressed and sneering Gaff (played by Edward J. Olmos) in BLADE RUNNER-immediately pestered Adrian for some more of the heroin that we had just experienced the vampiric alien invader enjoying back at the penthouse apartment. Unable to score with Adrian, Jimmy turned to his sinister left to address Margaret.
Intriguingly, all we initially saw of Margaret was the back of her peroxide blonde head, a lack of a face and eye contact that immediately implied that she was non-human and, hence, alien. The non-human and alien nature of Margaret was reaffirmed when the POV switched to a closeup of her face and we saw that she was a peroxide New Wave blonde caricature of a peroxide Hollywood blonde with a heavily whitened and neo-indigenous painted face. Significantly, her mouth was slightly open, showing off the tips of her canines like a vampin’ vampire. This vampiric sight evoked the alien invader’s vampiric draining of the heroin back at her penthouse apartment, implicitly also linking Margaret to the alien drug fiend like Jimmy and preparing us for the symbiotic and vampiric alien mayhem to come. Intriguingly, Margaret’s face was soft and round in this first creepy encounter, implying that Carlisle’s double was initially playing Margaret rather than the lean and long faced Carlisle. Margaret’s face was also as still and unnatural as the face mask back on the wall of the penthouse suite, a link reinforced by Margaret’s unreadable, unblinking and perhaps drugged up eyes and her red and blue neo-indigenous face paint that recalled the pinkish red and blue neon haloes around the face mask.
Significantly, Margaret also evoked Darryl Hannah’s equally tall, beautiful, mysterious, almost human and alienated replicant Pris in a fake blonde fright wig that masked Hannah’s naturally long blonde hair in BLADE RUNNER, a fitting link as Pris was part of a group of offworld replicants that returned to Earth from space and were hunted down by Deckard in the Sir Scott film, making the replicants also extraterrestrial as well as alienated. Thus, it was also fitting that Margaret soon invited Jimmy back to her penthouse suite to use drugs, for it reminded us that Pris was invited back to the battered Bradbury Building penthouse suite of J.F. Sebastian-played by William Sanderson-soon after bumping into him in BLADE RUNNER in another reversal of BLADE RUNNER in LIQUID SKY.
Significantly, back at the penthouse suite, Margaret and Jimmy looked even more like twins than when they met up at the club, anticipating the revelation the year after the release of LIQUID SKY that Princess Leia Organna and earnest young J.D. Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker-played by Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, respectively-were twin siblings in the Lucas executive produced and trimatically allegorical Richard Marquand film, STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983). Here Margaret danced an odd and neo-indigenous dance for Jimmy. As she danced, the mask was seen on the wall behind Margaret, linking her to art for art’s sake and film art for film art’s sake.
Significantly, Margaret’s odd dance was reflected in a large mirror, and soon Jimmy was also reflected in a mirror near him. These reflections reminded us that the reflections of characters always appeared in mirrors and windows to signal that they were parting ways with grounded and harmonious reality and heading down dark and dangerous fantasy world paths in the film art of Richard Rush. This implied that Tsukerman liked the film art of Rush and was also signalling that Jimmy and Margaret were parting ways with reality and heading down a dangerous and disharmonious fantasy world path here. This performance was also watched closely by the alien drug fiend with its one cyclopsean eye and psychedelic infrared vision via the balcony mirror, transforming Jimmy and Margaret’s initial encounter into a doubly dangerous and multicoloured mirrorworld reflection. In fact, the reflections of Margaret and Jimmy reminded us that LIQUID SKY began with the alien invader pondering Margaret’s penthouse apartment via the balcony mirror, implying right from the beginning that the characters in the film were heading down a dark, mirrorworld direction.
This weird dance routine impressed nasty Jimmy so much that he affirmed his nastiness by smashing up the penthouse suite in his desperate hunt for the stash of heroin hidden behind Margaret’s mask, a reflected sequence that was intercut with a performance art/poetry reading accompanied by drum box by the dimunitive but feisty Adrian back at the club. Curiously, one of the patrons resembled and anticipated Kyle MacLachlan, who would soon be chosen by David Lynch to play galactic messiah Paul ‘Maud’dib’ Atreides in the allegorical and implicitly David Cronenberg addressing Lynch film, DUNE (1984). Quickly fed up with each other, moody Margaret and snarly Jimmy returned to the Munchkinland night club. Here the two iconoclasts openly affirmed their commitment to indie art for art’s sake by joining a group of replicant evoking models and modelling futuristic New Wave clothing for a fashion show, a show reflected in mirrors that implied that these models were also heading down a dark and dangerous path like Jimmy and Margaret.
Significantly, this futuristic clothing evoked the futuristic clothing of BLADE RUNNER. A fitting evocation, for these scenes were intercut with scenes of a frozen and struggling real life blade runner and implicitly Lucas and Tin Man linked Boomer film artist named Paul-his name again anticipating Paul ‘Maud’dib’ Atreides in DUNE, and played by Stanley Knap-shooting up heroin in his apartment while his anguished, disapproving, frustrated and implicitly Glinda the Good and Marcia Lucas linked wife, Katherine-played by Elaine C. Grove-did her best to persuade him not to shoot his life away. Intriguingly, these intercut scenes openly linked addiction to film artists and their film art in particular, and implicitly to Lucas and his film art, in general-as well as anticipating Paul’s interest in the addictive and psychedelic spice melange in DUNE. As both Katherine and Paul were dark haired brunettes, these scenes also evoked the encounters between the equally brunette Deckard and the brunette replicant, Rachael Tyrell-played by Sean Young-in Deckard’s apartment in BLADE RUNNER, albeit reversed again, with Katherine the emotional human and Paul the ahuman replicant.
After the fashion show, the beautiful but tall and intimidating Margaret met up with the short, baby faced and implicitly Scarecrow and Spielberg linked Vincent–played by Jack Adalist-wearing a multi-coloured shirt that evoked a stained glass window. Vainglorious Vincent boasted that he had some cocaine, so the now blue fauxhawked Margaret took him back to her penthouse suite. Curiously, as Vincent was a short and brunette Caucasian male like Sebastian, this encounter with the tall, beautiful and peroxide blonde Margaret evoked Sebastian’s rendezvous with Pris in his lonely penthouse suite in BLADE RUNNER even more than did Margaret’s earlier rendezvous with the equally peroxide blonde Jimmy. Unfortunately, this encounter was not as relatively sedate as those other two encounters, as Vincent turned out to be a petulant and violent control freak.
For in order to get Margaret more agreeable to a sexual encounter, Vincent not only plied her with Quaaludes, but solemnly assured her that he was a television soap opera actor who had a father who not only worked for MGM, but who could help the tall and beautiful peroxide blonde-the kind of peroxide blonde who perennially featured prominently in film and tv-become a film or tv ‘star’. Perhaps in a new and f/x filled version of THE WIZARD OF OZ, given that MGM was the studio that created the 1939 classic, a reminder that implicitly affirmed the Ozian theme of the film. Unfortunately, Vincent began to beat Margaret when she rebuffed his offer to help her become a star and his sexual advances. Not surprisingly, when the beating began, the reflection of Margaret and Vincent suddenly appeared in a mirror behind the struggling couple to affirm that they were heading down a dark and dangerous path.
Significantly, this mirrorworld again evoked the alien invader’s mirrorworld POV, literally, as the alien invader watched this encounter with his psychedelic infrared vision with the help of the balcony mirror like ‘he’ had watched the earlier encounter between Margaret and Jimmy. Margaret’s traumatic encounter with Vincent was also intercut with the ominous sight of a descending airplane that again reminded us that airplanes were replaced in the L. A. 2019 world of BLADE RUNNER with police spinners, and also reminded us of the flying monkies of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Ominously, this descending plane seemed to be heading through the darkness towards Margaret’s apartment building in an all too prescient memory of the future of 911, but actually was only carrying the tragicomically earnest and endearing, Lynch resembling and implicitly linked-complete with white dress shirt buttoned at the neck-and also implicitly Nikko the flying monkey king linked West Berlin astrophysicist, Doctor Johann Hoffman-as tragicomically earnest and endearing as Tsukerman, and played by Otto von Wernherr-who hunted down the UFO and its drug addicted alien cosmonut to Margaret’s apartment like the reactivated blade runner Deckard tracked down humanoid replicants throughout BLADE RUNNER.
Alas, when Margaret refused the dubious ‘honour’ of sex with Vincent and the drugs that were designed to facilitate it and fled the apartment, a furious Vincent followed her and raped her in the stairwell, a pitiless rape that evoked the deadly rape of film art by the f/x of Lucas and Spielberg and the TZ disaster. Indeed, a sign on a building advertising ‘Dial Joe 1234’ for the Over Seas company that evoked the Offworld blimp in BLADE RUNNER and that was soon seen in the dawn’s early light in the morning a fter the rape eerily, presciently and openly linked the rape of Margaret to the July 23, 1982 disaster and to Joe Dante, one of the film artists recruited by Spielberg to helm an episode of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE. And then the plane and the crumpled form of Margaret in the stairwell disappeared, and healing dawn arrived to end the diseased night and begin Act Two.
‘Hey You! Hey you! What’s with these glass arrows, Indian?’
Act Two began with the rape scarred Margaret silently staring at her haunted reflection in the bathroom mirror. Significantly, she soon wrapped her peroxide blonde locks wrapped in a towel, evoking Deckard’s first sight of Zhora with her hair wrapped in a scarf seen on his Esper photograph analysis machine while pondering a photograph left behind by Leon in his hotel room. Soon Paul showed up at the penthouse suite to buy some more heroin from Adrian. Curiously, the small plastic baggie of heroin evoked the small plastic baggie Deckard slipped a snake scale into after finding the scale in the bathtub of the bathroom of Leon’s hotel room-how fitting that Margaret had been found staring at herself in the mirror of her bathroom before the arrival of Paul, looking like Jimmy with her peroxide blonde locks sheared short. Significantly, Paul bought the heroin while standing in front of a mirror that reflected the balcony door with its colourful stained glass windows. This linked Paul to Vincent and his stained glass window evoking shirt, preparing us for Paul’s less violent sexual assault of Margaret to come. Then Paul eagerly shot up to the vampiric delight of the alien drug fiend which fed eagerly on the euphoric hit with another psychedelically swelling and receding infrared Death Star effect.
Intriguingly, the scenes with Adrian, Margaret and Paul were intercut with the sight of the intrepid Dr. Hoffman in the observation deck of the Empire State Building successfully tracking the UFO to the penthouse suite via a tracking device attached to a tourist telescope, the sight of him peering through the eyepiece of the telescope evoking the sight of a director like Lynch looking through the eyepiece of a camera as s/he set up the next shot. Curiously, the tracking device used by Dr. Hoffman evoked a motion detector jury rigged by the anxious crew of the space freighter Nostromo in the allegorical and implicitly Lucas addressing Sir Scott film, ALIEN (1979), a fitting evocation of Sir Scott given that the successful search for the alien evoked Deckard’s equally successful search for the missing replicants throughout BLADE RUNNER. How fitting that this latest prescient reminder of BLADE RUNNER was reaffirmed by shots of the crowded streets of New York, for these shots evoked the equally crowded streets of L. A. 2019. At this point Act Two of LIQUID SKY truly began, a second act that was filled with meetings between the characters.
Indeed, Adrian and Margaret talked over their troubled lives at a café, poor Jimmy and his wealthy and Rachael resembling mother Sylvia, talked tensely over lunch at an expensive restaurant in a room that evoked the lonely isolation room of John ‘the Elephant Man’ Merrick-played by John Hurt-in the top floor of the London Hospital in the implicitly Cronenberg and Sir Scott addressing film, THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980), and Dr. Hoffman filled in Margaret’s favourite acting teacher and fellow ex-Cambridge scholar, the Rush resembling and implicitly Great Oz linked Owen-whose name openly linked LIQUID SKY to Lucas by way of Phil Brown’s Uncle Owen Lars, the uncle of Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker in STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE, and played by Bob Brady-in on his determined hunt for the addicted alien invader while visiting Owen at his apartment. Intriguingly, Margaret, Jimmy and Dr. Hoffman all sat on the right hand of the screen in these faceoffs, linking the three characters, while Adrian, Sylvia and Owen were all linked by sitting on the left hand sides of the screen. These three talking head meetings also evoked the tense Voight-Kampff testing of renegade replicant Leon-played by Brion James-by Deckard’s fellow blade runner, Holden-played by Morgan Paull-at the beginning of BLADE RUNNER, and Deckard’s V-K test of Rachael shortly after being recruited back into the blade runner ranks.
Curiously, these three talking head meetings ended with Margaret, Sylvia and Owen excusing themselves and heading off to meetings. Margaret and Owen met each other at the penthouse suite, and soon the fifty-something Owen seduced Margaret in another symbolic Boomer assault on film art. Margaret protested, but not too assertively, and soon the two were making love. A love making that was also implicitly and sufficiently good and true, given that their encounter was not reflected in a mirror and took place in front of the mask of art for art’s sake on the wall. Then, to the surprise of Margaret and the audience, given that Paul did not die when he shot up heroin earlier, the sexual encounter killed Owen at orgasm, when the alien sucked dry his opium linked orgasm molecules in another swelling and receding psychedelic infrared Death Star effect and left him with a mysterious glass arrow in the back of his head. Curiously, this death evoked the murder of Tyrell Corporation head, Eldon Tyrell-played by Joe Turkel-by Batty in Tyrell’s penthouse suite in another evocation of BLADE RUNNER. Intriguingly, these scenes of the fateful and fatal lovemaking of Margaret and Owen were intercut with scenes of Dr. Hoffman and Sylvia meeting on the sidewalk outside her apartment building, and Johann persuading Sylvia to let him up to her apartment so as to use her window to study the UFO on Margaret’s penthouse suite roof with his telescope. As their reflections were seen in an outside mirror as they talked, the implication was that this tragicomic encounter and their humourous interaction later in Sylvia’s apartment as the lonely and wistfully Wicked Sylvia did her best to seduce the earnest and asexual Dr. Hoffman was actually leading them both down a dark and dangerous path, indeed.
Soon the sun set, evoking the sunset at the end of THX 1138. Thus, it was fitting that Paul showed up at the penthouse suite in the sunset’s blood red light, for this sunset linked him to THX 1138 and implicitly affirmed his link to Lucas. To Margaret’s dismay and in the absence of Adrian, an angry Paul persuaded her to have an unpleasant and red lit sexual encounter with him in her wicked black bra and panties, a nasty encounter anticipated by the sight of the balcony door with its stained glass windows seen behind Paul when he had come to the apartment to buy heroin from Adrian on his first visit. Curiously, despite being ominously foretold, this nasty sexual encounter was not reflected in a mirror, perhaps because Margaret assented to it. Luckily for Margaret, Paul was soon killed like Owen in this sexual encounter-the literal blade runner killed by the beautiful blonde in another reversal of BLADE RUNNER-when the alien also sucked dry his opiate linked orgasm molecules at ejaculation in yet another swelling and then receding psychedelic infrared Death Star effect, leaving another glass arrow in the back of his head. Thus, an implicitly Lucas linked character was killed in implicit retaliation for raping film art with addictive special on set and post-production visual f/x and reaching out a helping hand to Kennedy, Marshall and Spielberg after the TZ disaster by an alien drug fiend acting in concert with a young and beautiful blonde who on top of being an implicit and symbolic embodiment of art for art’s sake in general was implicitly becoming a symbolic embodiment of film art for film art’s sake. Unbeknownst to Margaret, this murder was witnessed by Dr. Hoffman and Sylvia via telescope back at Sylvia’s apartment, evoking the crystal ball the Wicked Witch of the West used to spy on Dorothy and her companions in THE WIZARD OF OZ to implicitly affirm the link of Sylvia to the Wicked Witch of the West.
This left Margaret to wander to her window to wonder in a nightswept soliloquy addressed to the KING KONG evoking Empire State Building whether a power outside her was actually killing her Ozian sex partners, a power she addressed as ‘Indian’ due to the glass arrows left buried in the backs of the heads of the vampirically drained sex partners, a fitting appellation as Indian evoked her love of neo-indigenous face painting. Wishing aloud that Indian would help her out by getting rid of the bodies that were now inconveniently piling up in her suite, the alien drug and orgasm fiend promptly vaporized Paul, a helpful act that openly affirmed that a symbiotic relationship now existed between the alien and Margaret. Of course, this alienated link evoked the link of Elliot Thomas-played by Henry Thomas-and the lost alien E.T. in the allegorical Spielberg film, E.T., THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL (1982), released only months before the first screening of LIQUID SKY, setting us up for a showdown with Vincent. Significantly, the return of Adrian and the arrival of a crew from MIDNIGHT Magazine-which included Carlisle’s sister, Sara, as fashion editor Nellie-eager to do a photo shoot of Jimmy and Margaret in more futuristic New Wave clothing and makeup signalled the end of Act Two and the beginning of Act Three.
‘You wanted to know who and what I am? I’m a killer.’
Intriguingly, not only did Margaret’s symbiotic link to the alien became even more pronounced over the course of Act Three, so did the sense that she had become inhuman-and perhaps even alien. For soon after the arrival of the MIDNIGHT Magazine crew, a selection of photos of Margaret-actually Carlisle-as a child and teenager were shown to audiences to the sound of music that evoked a circus carousel, photographs that evoked the photographs cherished by the replicants in BLADE RUNNER. This sense that Margaret was becoming increasingly inhuman and alien was reaffirmed when she accepted a goading dare from the crew from MIDNIGHT Magazine and used her symbiotic power and oral sex to kill and vaporize Jimmy-who confirmed his implicit link to the Cowardly Lion by initially refusing the blow job that killed him-while wearing an all American combo of red elbow length gloves, white facial makeup and blue dress.
Curiously, this scene implicitly affirmed that Lynch was being addressed on one level in LIQUID SKY. For as he endured the blow job that killed him, the face of Jimmy was reflected in a mirror held by Jack-played by Roy MacArthur-who was in charge of the MIDNIGHT Magazine crew. This reminded us that the villainous and implicitly Nicholas Meyer linked night porter-played by Michael Elphick-who liked to bring paying ‘customers’ to see the ‘terrible’ Elephant Man in his lonely isolation ward room high up in the London Hospital after hours when no one was around, held a mirror to the face of Merrick twice in THE ELEPHANT MAN. Of course, this latest mirror reflection implicitly reaffirmed that Jimmy was on a dark path indeed when he was killed by the vampiric alien invader, a death accompanied by the usual euphoric psychedelic infrared waxing and waning Death Star effect. Curiously, this time there was no glass arrow left in the head of his corpse, though, for Jimmy was simply vaporized at orgasm by the alien drug fiend.
Soon Adrian was also vaporized at orgasm sans psychedelic infrared effects and reflections after she foolishly decided to sexually assault Margaret in front of the MIDNIGHT Magazine crew. Significantly, after the disappearance of Adrian, Margaret unplugged the pink and blue neon haloes that surrounded her wall mask. This implied that with the vaporizations of Adrian and Jimmy, the female and male human forces were now gone, leaving Margaret sexless, androgynous, and, hence, fully alien. This implication was reaffirmed by the fact that after the deaths and vaporizations of Adrian and Jimmy, Margaret looked more like a vampiress than ever, her eyes staring unblinkingly from her expressionless and undead face for the rest of the film, an eerie sight that evoked the face of Gloria Swanson’s Norma Desmond at the end of the allegorical Billy Wilder film, SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950).
In this ahuman, unblinking and vampiric state, Margaret proceeded to tell the remaining members of the MIDNIGHT Magazine shoot the story of her bored and dissatisfied life while sitting in front of another mirror and covering her face with a white makeup base that ironically glowed neon blue in the illumination of a black light. Soon, Margaret’s mirrorworld blue face seemed to be floating in the darkness of her penthouse suite eerily unsupported by anything, as she did not put the makeup on her neck. This eerie sight evoked the image of the light blue mask of her face hanging on a wall that began the film, implying that Margaret had now become the embodiment of art for art’s sake. Of course, this floating blue face also evoked the floating head that Frank Morgan’s Great and Terrible Oz used to frighten the credulous in THE WIZARD OF OZ-reaffirming the implicit Ozian structure of LIQUID SKY and also implying that Margaret’s symbiotic link with the alien had made her altogether too great and powerful. Then, after transforming herself into the Great and Terrible Neon Blue Alien Oz face, Margaret fled the MIDNIGHT Magazine fashion shoot crew at her penthouse suite in a taxi which dropped her off at a new club, this one filled with swirling, explosively bursting and psychedelic neon that evoked the neon in the penthouse suite and the equally brightly lit, mesmerizing and colourful Mothership in the allegorical Spielberg film, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977).
Fittingly, Margaret soon spotted Vincent in the crowd, affirming his implicit link to Spielberg. She also easily persuaded the sex mad rapist to return with her to her penthouse suite where she used her symbiotic power to vengefully and gleefully rape, kill and vaporize him in a satisfyingly vaporicious romp accompanied by one last euphorically alienated waxing and waning psychedelic infrared Death Star effect that repaid Vincent for his rapacious troubles at the beginning of the film, thus killing a symbolic Spielberg for raping film art with addictive f/x and hiring Kennedy and Marshall to produce TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE and Landis to create the prologue and an episode for that film, obliterating the last Ozian sexual partner, completing Margaret’s transformation from bored and disaffected New Wave model to vengeful peroxide blonde symbol of twilit and outraged film art for film art’s sake. Indeed, when Margaret stood up after the vaporization of Vincent with her back to the camera, the mask was seen on the wall in front of her, effectively becoming her face and affirming that the mask and Margaret were one. This brought the film full artistic circle, ending Act Three and beginning Act Four.
‘Come out, Indian. We killed them all, there’s no one left. We can be together now…you can’t leave me!’
Margaret kicked off Act Four by pulling on a white New Wave wedding dress that made her look like a vampiric Bride of Alienstein. Soon poor earnest and well intentioned Dr. Hoffman, who had watched Margaret kill Vincent through his telescope at Sylvia’s apartment, showed up at her penthouse suite to confront Margaret, in the end, reminding us that Deckard showed up at Sebastian’s penthouse suite to confront and kill Pris and Batty at the end of BLADE RUNNER. This time, however, in one final reversal of BLADE RUNNER, it was Margaret who again killed the blade runner, fittingly stabbing the good doctor in the back with a pair of scissors. Given the implicit link of Dr. Hoffman to Lynch, it was a prescient murder, for it anticipated the critical roasting Lynch received after the release of DUNE-and the death of the implicitly Tsukerman linked and gleefully depraved and Evil Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (played by Kenneth MacMillan) in DUNE. The murder reminded us that Desmond killed struggling screenwriter, Joseph C. ‘Joe’ Gillis-played by William Holden-by shooting him twice in the back at the end of SUNSET BOULEVARD.
So another blade runner was ironically killed by the beautiful blonde, but not before Dr. Hoffman revealed to Margaret that the creature had turned from alien drug fiend to alien orgasm fiend as the orgasm molecules sucked dry from opiate receptors in the brain during sex with Adrian, Jimmy, Owen, Paul and Vincent were very similar to opium molecules, affirming that the alien invader was a new and salacious alien mind as hot for primitive Earth love as the Dale Tate voiced and eagerly lubricious alien criminal mind Gor in the allegorical Nathan Juran film, THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS (1957), a film alluded to often in the STAR WARS Classic Trilogy in another link to Lucas in LIQUID SKY. Significantly, Margaret revealed that she had not experienced an orgasm with any of her Ozian sex partners. This was an important revelation, not only revealing how loveless and joyless Margaret’s sexual encounters had been, but also revealing why she too had not been psychically drained and killed at the moment of orgasm by the fiendish and vampiric alien sex addict like Adrian, Jimmy, Owen, Paul and Vincent.
Then the dimunitive flying saucer began to silently rise from her roof, perhaps due to its addicted alien invader being satisfied that the implicitly Lucas and Spielberg linked Paul and Vincent were terminated, completing its Zonebusting mission. Significantly, Margaret was as distraught at the departure of the alien as Desmond was at the departure of her ‘lover’, Gillis, at the end of SUNSET BOULEVARD. Rushing from the balcony and into her penthouse apartment, Margaret smashed her face mask to get the baggie of heroin hidden behind it and shot up the last stash of heroin so that the addictive alien invader would stop for one last vampiric feast before it left New York City. Then she climbed up onto the penthouse roof like Queen Kong and approached the POV of the alien invader in its UFO for her closeup like a blissfully stoned Desmond. Soon the tiny craft bathed Margaret in a blue light from the centre of its flying saucer, a blue light that we had never seen before and that caused the despondent Dorothy to twitch and gyrate in one last and strange St. Vitus-like dance before she slowly faded away like the melting Wicked Witch of the West at the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Perhaps this meant that Margaret had not been vaporized but shrunk down to size for truly alienated and addicted matrimony, reminding us that Deckard fled L. A. with Rachael in a spinner in the original 1982 release of BLADE RUNNER.
Curiously, Margaret slowly faded away in front of the ruby dress wearing Katherine fittingly standing on the right of the frame and Sylvia on the left, as the implicit Good Witch and the Wicked Witch had both arrived at the penthouse suite and rushed out on the balcony at the same time to confront Adrian and Margaret in the last implicit affirmation of the film’s Ozian theme, in the end. Thus, Katherine and Sylvia watched Margaret fade away like Deckard watched Batty ‘die’ on top of a rainswept roof at the end of BLADE RUNNER. Then the flying saucer slowly rose and also faded away like the Wicked Witch of the West, evoking the pigeon released by Batty after he ‘died’ at the end of BLADE RUNNER in the last implicit and prescient nod to that film-which made it fitting that Sir Scott’s younger brother, Tony, soon replied to and exorcised LIQUID SKY in his twilit, haunting and allegorical film, THE HUNGER (1983). Thus, while no doubt lost was the implicitly allegorical meaning of the film to many viewers in these #MeToo times, important to remember was it that the sexual assaults implicitly symbolized film art being raped by and then defeating Lucas and Spielberg and their addictive f/x filled film art-and from Kennedy and Marshall, their two chief lieutenants who were partly responsible for the TZ disaster-and that, despite its humourous amateurishness, helped did LIQUID SKY kick off a raucous and rowdy new era of allegorical and Zonebusting Gen X film art that slammed deep into the bodies, hearts, minds and souls of audiences like a glass arrow.