and the traumatic birth
of indie Gen X film art
by Gary W. Wright
While most observers pointed to such twilit, allegorical and righteously furious indie docufeature films as the Quentin Tarantino film RESERVOIR DOGS (1992) or Bruce MacDonald’s HARD CORE LOGO (1995) as signalling the arrival of distinct and distinctly disaffected, angry, frustrated, cynical, despondent, bored, restless, rebellious, sarcastic and righteously furious Gen X film art, a number of twilit, allegorical and proto-Gen X indie docufeature films like Kathryn Bigelow’s THE LOVELESS (1981), Luc Besson’s LE DERNIER COMBAT (1983), James Cameron’s THE TERMINATOR (1984) and ALIENS (1986), and Alex Cox’s REPO MAN (1984), SID AND NANCY (1986) and STRAIGHT TO HELL (1987) had already announced the arrival by the early Eighties of openly and righteously furious, rebellious, riotous, raucous and Zonebusting film artists who implicitly took on and took out the big names of New Hollywood, particularly those who were linked to the fatal helicopter crash that killed actor/director/writer Vic Morrow and illegally hired and used child extras Renee Chen and Myca Le on the George Folsey jr. produced John Landis set of the twilit, allegorical, Kathleen Kennedy associate produced, Frank Marshall produced and Landis and Steven Spielberg executive produced Landis, Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller docufeature film TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983). However, of all of these early proto-Gen X films of the Eighties, none was more implicitly anti-Lucas and Spielberg, angry, bored, disaffected, disillusioned, despondent, frustrated, idiosyncratic, indie, raucous, rebellious, righteously furious, wacky, weird and comically, but endearingly, amateurish than the eerily and presciently twilit, allegorical and Ozian themed Slava Tsukerman indie docufeature film LIQUID SKY (1982), first screened at the Montreal World Film Festival in August of 1982.
For with its strange story, undisguised fury and 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, heroin high and orgasm addicted vampiric alien invader, and implicitly furious roasting of Lucas and Spielberg and their addictive visual effects filled film art, LIQUID SKY contained most of the elements that went 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 only weeks after the TZ disaster, where a knowing jury fittingly awarded the fine film the Special Prize. For this August appearance made LIQUID SKY perhaps 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 Folsey jr., 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 in 2017 LIQUID SKY returned in cleaned up Bluray and regular DVD versions courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome, ironically arriving just in time to make the outraged and outrageous film a target for the equally outraged #MeToo movement, but which also made it a perfect time to take a closer look at this unusual and unforgettable film.
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 flased by on the screen. On top of preparing us to wonder what was behind the mask of her face, this face mask immediately linked the film to personal and hand crafted art for art’s sake. Significantly, 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 appearances as the implicitly Dorothy linked Margaret, who lived in the apartment, and the implicitly Cowardly Lion linked Jimmy, two anti-mainstream, anti-establishment, angry, bored, disaffected, drug using, bisexual and peroxide blonde New Wave fashion models. Fittingly, their Ozian links evoked the Ozian linked characters of such allegorical and Ozian themed Lucas indie docufeature films as AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973) and STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977) and of the frantic, frenetic, twilit and allegorical Spielberg indie docufeature film 1941 (1979), affirming the implicit Lucas and Spielberg roasting theme of LIQUID SKY.
Just as curiously, but equally fittingly, the neon lights in the room also evoked the emphasis on neon throughout the eerily and presciently twilit, allegorical, computer generated imagery (CGI) enhanced, Ozian themed, and implicitly Lucas addressing Sir Ridley Scott indie docufeature artbuster BLADE RUNNER (1982), released in late June of ’82 only weeks before the TZ disaster. This made LIQUID SKY the first film to presciently respond to BLADE RUNNER as well as to the TZ disaster despite the fact that the film was created at the same time as BLADE RUNNER, a curious prescience reaffirmed 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 anticipation of 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 an Emerald City evoking New York City nightscape with the towering World Trade Center complex seen in front of the building and the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building located not far behind, the latter storied building evoking the allegorical and blockbuster beast roasting Merian C. Copper and Ernest B. Schoedsack docufeature film KING KONG (1933).
For these retreating jump cuts from the softly lit interior of a penthouse suite out into a harshly lit exterior nighttime cityscape filled with towering buildings evoked the advancing jump cuts from an harshly lit 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 curious 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 and symbolic crystal ball eye on Margaret and her dimunitive, feisty, and implicitly Wicked Witch of the East linked friend Adrian-played by Paula E. Sheppard-who had a fittingly Wicked fondness for black clothing and a dash of foul mouthed Munchkin mischief 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 Nazi Germany linked Wicked Witch of the West in the allegorical and implicitly Prime Minister William King and Third Reich 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 crowded gay New Wave dance club, a colourful club that evoked both Munchkinland, the first place visited in THE WIZARD OF OZ, and Taffy’s, the Chinatown strip club where the implicitly Lucas linked LAPD “Blade Runner” Replicant hunter Rick Deckard-played by Harrison Ford-tracked down Zhora in BLADE RUNNER. Here the indie and idiosyncratically dressed individual Munchkin clubbers literally danced to a different synthesized drum beat than that of the equally synthesized but more plodding music heard in the penthouse and cityscapes scenes, a synthesized score that again evoked BLADE RUNNER and the synthesized score that Vangelis composed for that film. Significantly, this discordant and disorienting montage of shots of the New Wave Munchkinland club intercut with interior shots of the neon sign lit penthouse suite and New York nightscape evoked the equally discordant and disorienting montage of interior underworld shots that began the first eerily and presciently twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and implicitly Stanley Kubrick roasting Lucas indie docufeature film THX 1138 (1971).
Significantly, THX 1138 was a rebellious film manifesto set in a labyrinthine and drugged up underground society that implicitly and satirically blasted the cerebral, soulless and anti-septic vision of the future Earth in the allegorical and CGI enhanced Kubrick docufeature artbuster 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) and audiences addicted to the vision of that future Earth. THX 1138 also defiantly and implicitly proclaimed the Lucas goal of leaving that addictive Kubrick future and the cult of Kubrick behind and succeeding as a quirky, indie and J.D. Jedi mainstream film artist as surely as the shaven headed underground asylum inmate drone THX 1138-played by Robert Duvall-left behind the huvine and listless underground society and climbed up a ladder up and away and out into the real world and the setting apocalyptic sun of the Old Hollywood era at the end of the film, an indie 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 not only prepared us for another sly fi themed and satirical roast of another underground druggie culture, in this case the early Eighties New Wave scene in New York, and implicitly affirmed that Lucas and his own addictive, Ozian themed and CGI and other visual effects filled films would be roasted on one level in the film, but also prepared us for leaving behind the Lucas era at the end of the film as surely as THX 1138 left behind the underground labyrinth. In fact, this implicit interest in roasting addictive visual f/x filled sly film art like that of Lucas was quickly reaffirmed, for the opening and scene setting montage concluded with a tragicomic alien invasion.
Indeed, a ridiculously tiny flying saucer appeared out of nowhere in the New York nightscape like the floating bubble of Glinda the Good or a flying LAPD police car known as a “spinner” in BLADE RUNNER. However, despite its dimunitive size and the fact that it moved so slowly it appeared to be moving…without moving, the arrival of the UFO was eerily prescient, given that LIQUID SKY was still in the post-production phase at the time of the TZ disaster. For the tiny UFO evoked the equally tiny flying saucer filled with tiny astronauts from Earth that arrived to pester a planet of human-like giants in the allegorical Douglas Heyes telefilm “The Invaders” (1961), a season two episode of the original TWILIGHT ZONE telefilm series that perhaps explored the arrival of the small tv screen and the subsequent battle between tv actors and actors on 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 already eerily linked to the Twilight Zone and to twilit disasters during the production of the film before its release only a month after the TZ disaster, affirming that it was the first film to presciently reply to the TZ disaster as well as the first film to implicitly reply to BLADE RUNNER.
Curiously, this tiny UFO slowly descended and landed on the roof overlooking the balcony of the penthouse suite like the Kansas farmhouse fell through the sky and landed in Munchkinland. Here its twilit and dimunitive alien occupant-or was that dimunitive and alienated human occupant, given that the tiny craft evoked the equally tiny UFO in “The Invaders”?-quickly used its single cyclopsean eye and its psychedelic infrared vision to study the colourful interior of the neon lit penthouse suite via a mirror left in a corner of the balcony, a mirror that created a strange and distorted funhouse mirrorworld reflection, a mirrorworld made flesh in the avant garde New Wave fashion, music and poetry circle of Margaret, Adrian and their 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. In fact, the alien implicitly sensed, found and implicitly consumed the heroin Adrian hid behind the mask, a masked heroin stash that reminded us that “blade runner” was slang for a heroin addict in another eerily prescient link to BLADE RUNNER. This vampiric consumption occurred in a psychedelic infrared effects sequence that implicitly expressed the euphoria that the twilit alien invader felt in consuming the drug swell into a Death Star evoking coloured ball of ecstasy that peaked to swollen full swollen size before slowly dwindling and fading away, reaffirming that the film was implicitly roasting Lucas on one level and linking alien drug addiction to sly fi visual f/x addiction. And with the fading away of the Deadly pleasure Star, the prologue ended and Act One began.
“We’ll go to my place,
it’s not far.”
Curiously, Act One introduced Jimmy and Adrian-the latter fittingly 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. An implicit link that was soon affirmed when the dapper and sneering Jimmy-who evoked both the equally well dressed and sneering Gaff [played by Edward J. Olmos] and Rutger Hauer’s renegade Replicant leader Roy Batty in BLADE RUNNER-immediately pestered Adrian for some more of that heroin that the tiny alien invader had just enjoyed back at the penthouse suite. Unable to score with Adrian, Jimmy turned to his sinister left to address Margaret.
Intriguingly, all that we initially saw of Margaret was the back of her peroxide blonde head, a lack of a face and eye contact that made her appear non-human, and, hence, alien. This non-human and alien nature of Margaret was affirmed when the POV switched to a closeup of her face. For we saw that she not only looked like the twin sister of Jimmy and was a peroxide New Wave blonde caricature of a peroxide Hollywood blonde with a heavily whitened and neo-indigenous painted face, but also had her mouth slightly open, showing off the tips of her canines like a vampin’ vampire. The vampiric sight evoked the alien invader’s vampiric draining of the heroin back at her penthouse suite, implicitly 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 halos around the face mask.
Significantly, Margaret also evoked Daryl 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 the group of Offworld Replicants that returned to Earth and were hunted down by Deckard in the Sir Scott film, making the Replicants also extraterrestrial as well as alienated and addicted like the tiny alien invader, as well, in their case to life. 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 eerily prescient reversal of BLADE RUNNER in LIQUID SKY.
Back at the penthouse suite, Jimmy and Margaret 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 her earnest young J.D. Jedi Knight friend Luke Skywalker-played by Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, respectively-were twin siblings in the trimatic twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed, Lucas executive produced and implicitly Spielberg roasting Richard Marquand indie docufeature film STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983). Here in her digs, Margaret danced an odd and neo-indigenous dance for Jimmy to the sound of fittingly odd and neo-indigenous synthesized music. 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, healthy, harmonious and sane reality and heading down the path of unmoored, diseased, disharmonious and insane mirrorworld fantasy in the dangerous reflections filled film art of Richard Rush. Thus, this implied that Tsukerman liked the film art of Rush and was also signalling to audiences that Jimmy and Margaret were parting ways with reality and heading down a dark and dangerous mirrorworld path. Or was that extraterrestrial world path, given that Jimmy and Margaret were also watched closely by the alien drug fiend with its one cyclopsean eye and psychedelic infrared vision via the balcony mirror, transforming their initial encounter into a doubly dangerous and multicoloured mirrorworld fantasy. 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, dangerous and alienated mirrorworld path.
Tragicomically, Margaret’s 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 destructively reflected sequence that was intercut with a performance art/poetry reading accompanied by a drum machine by the dimunitive but indomitable 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 the melange drug luvin’ and implicitly David Cronenberg linked galactic messiah Paul “Maud’dib” Atreides in the twilit, allegorical and implicitly Cronenberg addressing Lynch indie moving painting DUNE (1984). Quickly fed up with each other, moody Margaret and nasty Jimmy returned to the Munchkinland dance club. Here the two iconoclasts openly affirmed their commitment to indie art for indie art’s sake by joining a group of Replicant evoking models and modelling colourful, futuristic and truly Munchkin evoking New Wave clothing for a fashion show, a show dangerously reflected in more mirrors that implied that these models were joining Jimmy and Margaret down that dark and dangerous mirrorworld path.
Significantly, this futuristic clothing also 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 film artist named Paul-his name again anticipating the arrival of Paul-Maud’dib on the big screen 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 heroin addiction to film artists and their film art in general, and with implicit prescience to Lucas and his film art in particular, via the J.D. Jedi “twins” Jimmy and Margaret, affirming Paul’s implicit link to Lucas, as well as anticipated Paul’s interest in the addictive and psychedelic spice melange in DUNE. As both Katherine and Paul were dark haired brunettes, their scenes together also presciently evoked the encounters between the equally brunette Deckard and the beautiful 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 Spielberg and Scarecrow linked Vincent-played by Jack Adalist-wearing a multi-coloured shirt that evoked the stained glass window already seen in the penthouse suite. Tragicomically, vainglorious Vincent boasted that he had some cocaine, so the now blue fauxhawked Margaret took him back to the 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 albeit reversed again 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 become a film or tv “star”, perhaps in a new and visual f/x laden 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, given the film’s fondness for implicitly dangerous reflections, 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 mirrorworld path, indeed.
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 it 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 passenger plane that reminded us of the flying monkeys 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 911 future-eerily and ominously prescient, indeed, given that Deborah Jacobs, one of the extras met later in the film, would go on to work as a stewardess on one of the planes that slammed into the World Trade Center towers-but actually was only carrying the tragicomically earnest, 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.
Alas, when Margaret refused the dubious “honour” of sex with Vincent and the drugs that were designed to facilitate it and fled the penthouse suite, a furious Vincent followed her and raped her in the stairwell, a pitiless rape that evoked the deadly rape of film by the addictive visual f/x of Lucas and Spielberg and by the TZ disaster. 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?”
A second act that began in the dawn’s early light with a sign on a building advertising “Dial Joe 1234” for the Over Seas company that evoked the multicoloured and corporate sign covered Offworld blimp in BLADE RUNNER that was seen in the morning after the rape and that 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. Then the rape scarred Margaret silently stared at her haunted reflection in the bathroom mirror, looking like Jimmy with her peroxide blonde locks sheared short, implying that the rape had created a more masculine Margaret. Significantly, she soon wrapped her hair 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-played by Brion James-in his Yukon Hotel room.
Then 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, making it fitting that Margaret had been found staring at herself in the mirror of her bathroom before the arrival of Paul. Significantly, Paul bought the heroin while standing in front of a mirror that reflected the balcony door with its colourful stained glass panels. 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 outside which fed eagerly on the euphoric hit with another psychedelically colourful and swelling and receding infrared Death Star visual f/x effect, again implicitly linking alien drug addiction to addictive sly fi visual f/x.
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 like Deckard tracked down Replicants in BLADE RUNNER, the sight of him peering through the eyepiece of the telescope evoking the sight of a film artist 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 eerily and presciently twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed and implicitly Lucas addressing Sir Scott indie docufeature artbuster ALIEN (1979). How fitting that this latest allusion to Sir Scott was linked to shots of the crowded streets of New York, for these shots evoked the equally crowded streets of 2019 L.A. in BLADE RUNNER. At this point Act Two of LIQUID SKY truly began, a second act that was filled with meetings between the characters.
Indeed, as Adrian and a Margaret sporting an Andy Warhol evoking do that implicitly affirmed her link to indie art for indie art’s sake talked about 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 the implicitly Cronenberg linked John Merrick aka “the terrible Elephant Man”-played by John Hurt-in the top floor of the London Hospital in the implicitly Cronenberg and Sir Scott addressing Lynch indie moving painting THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980). At the same time, Dr. Hoffman filled in fellow ex-Cambridge scholar and Margaret’s favourite acting teacher, the Richard Dreyfuss resembling and implicitly Toto linked Owen-whose name openly linked LIQUID SKY to Lucas by way of Phil Brown’s Uncle Owen Lars, the uncle of Luke Skywalker, in STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE, and played by Bob Brady-on his determined hunt for the addicted alien invader while visiting Owen at his apartment. Intriguingly, Margaret, Jimmy and Dr. Hoffman were all linked by the fact that they all sat on the right of the screen in these faceoffs, while Adrian, Sylvia and Owen were all linked by sitting on the left sides of the screen. These three talking head meetings also evoked the tense Voigt-Kampff empathy testing of renegade Replicant Leon 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 suit, and soon the fifty-something Owen seduced Margaret with fittingly dogged determination in another unwanted and implicit Boomer assault on film art-and Gen X and its film art! Margaret protested, but not too assertively or convincingly, and soon the two were making luv. A luv making that was also implicitly and sufficiently Good and true, given that Margaret did not resist, their torrid encounter was not reflected in a mirror, and also took place in front of the face mask of art for art’s sake on the wall.
Thus, to the surprised interest of Margaret and the audience, given that Paul had not died when he shot up heroin earlier despite the enjoyment the alien dope fiend had taken in his euphoria, the sexual encounter killed Owen at the moment of orgasm, when the alien invader 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, again implicitly linking drug addiction to visual f/x addiction and implying that, despite its diminutive size, the drug luvin’ alien invader was the Great and Powerful Oz of the piece, slowly drifting down through the night skies of New York at the beginning of the film like the Great Oz-played by Frank Morgan-in his wayward hot air balloon in THE WIZARD OF OZ. Curiously, this death of the implicitly Toto linked Owen evoked Batty’s murder of the implicitly Peter Hyams and Great Oz linked Tyrell Corporation head Doctor Eldon Tyrell-played by Joe Turkel-in Tyrell’s own penthouse suite in one of the Tyrell Corp pyramids in another prescient evocation of BLADE RUNNER.
Intriguingly, these scenes of the fateful and fatal luvmaking of Margaret and Owen were intercut with scenes of the implicitly Nikko linked Dr. Hoffman and the implicitly Wicked Sylvia fittingly 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 dangerous reflections were seen in an outside mirror in the foyer of Sylvia’s apartment building as they talked, the implication was that this tragicomic encounter and their humourous interaction later in Sylvia’s apartment as the lonely, lustful and wistfully Wicked Sylvia did her best to seduce the earnest and asexual Johann into some more vigorous monkey business was fittingly leading them both down a dark mirrorworld path, indeed.
Soon, after a tragicomic fight between Adrian and Margaret over the former’s Wicked desire to have sex with the corpse of Owen that affirmed Adrian’s implicit link to the Wicked Witch of the East, a fight and corpse espied with their little eyes by Johann and Sylvia with the telescope, the sun set, evoking the sunset at the end of THX 1138 to reaffirm the film’s implicit interest in Lucas on one level. Thus, it was fitting that Paul showed up at Margaret’s penthouse suite in the sunset’s bloody red light, for this crimson and THX 1138 evoking sunset affirmed his implicit link to Lucas. To Margaret’s dismay and in the absence of Adrian, an angry Paul persuaded her to have an unpleasant, aggressive and blood red lit sexual encounter with him in her Wicked black bra and panties, a nasty encounter that affirmed that the sight of the Vincent evoking balcony door with its stained glass windows seen behind Paul when he had come to the penthouse suite to buy heroin from Adrian on his first visit was important. However, despite being ominously foretold, this nasty sexual encounter was not reflected in a mirror, perhaps because Margaret had again assented to it.
Curiously, and luckily for Margaret, Paul was soon killed like Owen in this rough encounter, the literal blade runner killed by the beautiful peroxide blonde in another and ironic reversal of BLADE RUNNER, when the alien drug fiend also sucked dry his opiate linked orgasm molecules at ejaculation in yet another swelling and then receding psychedelic infrared Death Star effect, implicitly linking orgasm addiction to visual f/x addiction once again and leaving another glass arrow in the back of Paul’s head to implicitly reaffirm that the diminutive alien invader was the Great and Terrible Oz of the piece. Significantly, and unbeknownst to Margaret, this murder was witnessed by Dr. Hoffman and Sylvia via telescope back at Sylvia’s apartment, evoking the crystal ball used by the Wicked Witch of the West to spy on the lost, confused, sweet and innocent Kansas orphan Dorothy Gale-played by Judy Garland-and her four healing elemental Ozian companions in THE WIZARD OF OZ to implicitly affirm the link of Sylvia to the Wicked Witch of the West.
Thus, an implicitly Lucas and Tin Man linked character was killed in implicit retaliation for Lucas raping film art with addictive special on set and post-production visual f/x by an alien drug fiend acting in concert with a young and beautiful peroxide blonde who was the implicit embodiment of indie art for art’s sake in general and of indie film art for film art’s sake in particular. And presciently killed, given the outraged climate of the times when LIQUID SKY was released in August of ’82, for audiences-particularly young audiences-were shocked and outraged that Lucas reached out a helping hand to Kennedy, Marshall and Spielberg and soon whisked them off to London to start work on the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed, Lucas executive produced, Kennedy and Marshall produced and implicitly William Friedkin addressing Spielberg indie docufeature film INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984) so that they could escape the public eye in the U.S. and evade police investigation of the TZ disaster.
And so Margaret was left alone to wander to her window and 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 curiously addressed as “Indian” given the glass arrows this unseen power had left buried in the backs of the heads of the Totoish Owen and the Tinny Paul, a fitting appellation as Indian evoked her luv 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 penthouse suite, the alien drug and orgasm fiend promptly obliged by vaporizing Paul, a helpful act that openly affirmed that a symbiotic relationship now existed between the tiny but Great alien invader and Margaret. Significantly, this symbiotic link eerily and presciently linked LIQUID SKY to another ’82 film, the eerily and presciently twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Kennedy produced and implicitly Terry Gilliam addressing Spielberg docufeature film E.T., THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL (1982), released only months before the fateful and fatal TZ disaster and the first screening of LIQUID SKY, fittingly setting us up for a showdown with the Scarey and implicitly Spielberg linked Vincent. Significantly, the return of Adrian and the arrival of an exuberant and party hearty crew from MIDNIGHT magazine, which included Jacobs as an assistant and Carlisle’s sister, Sara, as the flaming red haired fashion editor Nellie, for a photo shoot with moody Margaret and nasty Jimmy 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 more than just alienated but inhuman-and perhaps even alien. For soon after the arrival of the MIDNIGHT magazine crew, a selection of still photos of Margaret-actually Carlisle-as a sweet and innocent child and teenager were shown to audiences to the synthesized sound of music that evoked a circus carousel, youthful photographs that affirmed that she was the implicit Dorothy of the piece and evoked the cherished photographs of the Replicants in BLADE RUNNER. This sense that she was becoming increasingly Replicant, inhuman and alien was implicitly reaffirmed when Margaret, wearing an all American combo of red elbow length gloves, white facial makeup and blue dress, accepted a goading dare from the MIDNIGHT crew and used her symbiotic power and oral sex to kill the Cowardly Jimmy, who affirmed his implicit link to the Cowardly Lion by initially refusing the blow job that killed him.
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 the fittingly surnamed Michael Elphick-who liked to bring paying “customers” after hours when no one was around to see the “terrible” Elephant Man in his lonely isolation ward room high up in the London Hospital held a mirror to the face of Merrick twice in THE ELEPHANT MAN. Of course, this latest dangerous mirror reflection implicitly reaffirmed that Jimmy was on a dark path, indeed, an implication also affirmed when he was killed and vaporized by the vampiric alien invader, another death accompanied by the familiar euphoric and psychedelic waxing and waning infrared Death Star effect that implicitly linked drug addiction to visual f/x addiction.
Soon the Wicked Adrian was also vaporized at orgasm by the alien drug fiend, curiously and noticeably sans psychedelic infrared f/x and dangerous reflections after she foolishly decided to sexually assault Margaret in front of the startled MIDNIGHT magazine crew. Significantly, after the disappearance of Adrian, Margaret unplugged the pink and blue neon halos that surrounded her wall mask and all of the rest of the neon signs in the penthouse suite and turned off the lights. This implied that with the vaporizations of the Wicked Adrian and the Cowardly Jimmy, the female and male human Forces that filled Margaret 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 Norma Desmond-played by Gloria Swanson-at the end of the allegorical Billy Wilder docufeature film SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950).
In this ahuman, unblinking and vampiric state, Margaret proceeded to tell the remaining members of the MIDNIGHT crew the story of her bored, disaffected, dissatisfied and frustrated life while sitting in the darkness in front of another mirror and covering her face with a white makeup base that glowed neon blue in the illumination of a black light. Soon Margaret’s dangerous 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 fittingly evoked the image of the light blue mask of her face hanging on a wall that began the film, bringing the film full circle and implying that with the murders of Owen, Paul, Jimmy and Adrian, Margaret had implicitly become the embodiment of art for indie art’s sake in general and indie film art for film art’s sake in particular. Of course, this eerie and floating blue face also evoked the floating green head that the Great and Powerful 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 to the equally Great and Powerful alien drug fiend had made her altogether too great and powerful.
Then, after transforming herself into the Great and Powerful Marg, Margaret fled the MIDNIGHT magazine crew and 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 at the end of the eerily twilit and allegorical Spielberg docufeature 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 deadly penthouse suite where she again used her symbiotic link to vengefully and gleefully rape, kill and vaporize the Scarey Vincent in a grimly satisfying vaporicious romp that repaid Vinny for his rapacious pains at the beginning of the film accompanied by one last euphorically alienated waxing and waning psychedelic infrared Death Star effect that implicitly linked orgasm addiction to visual f/x addiction again, thus implicitly killing Spielberg for raping film art with addictive visual 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 implicitly Ozian linked sexual partner and completing Margaret’s presciently implicit transformation from bored and disaffected indie New Wave model to vengeful and implicit Gen X peroxide blonde embodiment of equally vengeful Gen X indie 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 implicit sight 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!”
Fittingly, 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 alien hunter Dr. Hoffman, who had watched Margaret kill Vincent through his telescope at Sylvia’s apartment, showed up at her penthouse suite to confront Margaret, 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 prescient reversal of BLADE RUNNER, it was Margaret who again killed the ironically Good and Nikkoish doctor in the back with a pair of scissors. Given the implicit link of Dr. Hoffman to Lynch, it was a prescient murder, indeed, for it anticipated the roasting Lynch received from audiences after the release of DUNE. The murder also reminded us that Desmond killed struggling screenwriter Joseph C. “Joe” Gillis-played by William Holden, whose surname inspired that of Holden in BLADE RUNNER-by shooting him twice in the back at the end of SUNSET BOULEVARD.
So another intrepid investigator was ironically killed by the beautiful peroxide blonde in LIQUID SKY instead of vice versa as in BLADE RUNNER, but not before Dr. Hoffman revealed to Margaret that the creature had turned from alien drug fiend to alien orgasm fiend due to the fact that 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 luv as the eagerly aroused and lubricious criminal alien mind Gor-played by Dale Tate-in the allegorical Nathan Juran docufeature film THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS (1957), a film alluded to often in the STAR WARS Classic Trilogy in another implicit link to Lucas in LIQUID SKY. Significantly, before she killed him, Margaret revealed to Johann that she had not experienced an orgasm with any of her Ozian sex partners. This was an important revelation, for it not only revealed how luvless and joyless Margaret’s sexual encounters had been, but also revealed why she too had not been psychically drained and killed at the moment of orgasm by the greedily vampiric alien heroin and orgasm addict like Adrian, Jimmy, Owen, Paul and Vincent.
Then the diminutive flying saucer began to silently rise from her roof, perhaps due to its addicted alien invader being satiated and satisfied that the implicitly Lucas and Spielberg linked Paul and Vincent were terminated, completing its eerily but fittingly prescient Zonebusting mission. Significantly, Margaret was as distraught at the departure of the alien as Desmond was at the departure of her “luver” Gillis at the end of SUNSET BOULEVARD. Rushing from the balcony and into her penthouse suite, Margaret smashed up her face mask to get at the baggie of heroin hidden behind it and to shoot up the last stash of heroin on the balcony in full view of the departing UFO so that the addictive alien invader would stop for one last vampiric feast before it left New York.
Then she climbed up onto the penthouse roof like Queen Kong and approached the psychedelic infrared 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 its centre, a blue light that we had never seen before and that caused the despondent Dorothy to twitch and gyrate in one last strange and 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, implying that Tsukerman believed that sweet and innocent Dorothy had been annihilated by the addictive visual f/x in Ozian themed films like the STAR WARS Classic Trilogy. Or perhaps Margaret was not vaporized at all but shrunk down to size for truly alienated and addicted matrimony with the alien invader, reminding us that Deckard fled L.A. with Rachael in a spinner in the original 1982 release of BLADE RUNNER in another prescient nod to that film.
At any rate, it was a fitting reminder of the Wicked Witch of the West, for Margaret slowly faded away in front of the ruby red dress wearing and implicitly Glinda linked Katherine ironically standing on the sinister left of the frame and the black and green checked dress wearing and implicitly Wicked Witch of the West linked Sylvia standing on the virtuous right, as the two women had both arrived at the penthouse suite and rushed out on the balcony at the same time to confront Adrian and Margaret. And so Good Katherine and Wicked 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 fittingly faded away from the Emerald City of New York like the Great Oz rose in the air and drifted away from Oz in his hot air balloon at the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ or like the pigeon released by Batty after he “died” at the end of BLADE RUNNER in the last two implicit nods to those films, in the end.
And so ended one of the most fearless, iconoclastic, memorable and haunting indie films of all time. A fearless, iconoclastic, memorable and haunting film that fittingly haunted the equally fearless Bigelow and Cameron, for the rapacious murder of the implicitly Wicked Witch of the East linked Iris-played by Brigitte Bako-implicitly symbolized indie film art for film art’s sake being raped and murdered by the new and equally addictive CGI that was perfected in the Nineties, evoking the initial equally brutal rapes of Margaret before she struck back in LIQUID SKY in the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed, Cameron co-written and co-produced and implicitly Lucas addressing Bigelow indie docufeature artbuster STRANGE DAYS (1995), released on September 3, 1995. LIQUID SKY’s implicitly furious and determined battle against addictive visual f/x in beastly blockbuster film art that turned audiences into listless and lifeless pod people milked of their money, energy, hopes and dreams by the greedily vampiric Hollywood studios also implicitly struck an equally furious and indignant chord with Lana and Lilly Wachowski, for the desperate battle of the implicitly Bigelow and Glinda linked Trinity, the implicitly Lucas and Scarecrow linked Neo, and the implicitly Francis Coppola and Great Oz linked Morpheus-played by Carrie-Anne Moss, Keanu Reeves, and Laurence Fishburne, respectively-to unplug the last embattled remnants of a vital humanity and break them free from being pod people greedily milked of their energy by the beastly CGI enhanced blockbuster machine world like human batteries implicitly equated with a desperate battle by the Wachowskis to break audiences free from listless pod person addiction to the visual f/x in beastly CGI enhanced blockbuster films in order to regain their vital humanity in the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed and STRANGE DAYS evoking indie docufeature film THE MATRIX (1999), an innovative Gen X film released on March 28, 1999 that kicked off a neo eon of CGI enhanced film art and affirmed its implicit fondness for LIQUID SKY by the resemblance of surly peroxide blonde Switch-played by Belinda McClory-to nasty Jimmy.
Affirming that, while no doubt lost was the implicit allegorical intent of the film to many viewers, particularly in these #MeToo times, important to remember it was that the sexual assaults of Adrian, Paul and Vincent on Margaret implicitly symbolized indie film art for film art’s sake being raped by the addictive and hi-tech visual f/x filled film art of Lucas and Spielberg-and, eerily and presciently, of Sir Scott-and that Margaret’s sexually vampiric killing of Paul and Vincent symbolized a righteously furious and vengeful indie film art for film art’s sake striking back and triumphing over the addictive and hi-tech visual f/x filled blockbuster beast, and that despite its unpleasant subject matter and tragicomic amateurishness, inspired did the indomitably indie and iconoclastic LIQUID SKY kick off an equally indomitable, indie, iconoclastic, raucous, rowdy and righteously furious neo eon of twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, and sometimes Ozian themed Gen X indie film art for film art’s sake that slammed deep into the bodies, hearts, minds and souls of audiences like an invincible…glass arrow.