Another month, another look at the glorious gems that our heroes at Vinegar Syndrome have excavated from the tombs.
This time we're checking out the brand new 4K restoration of Slava Tsukerman's punk-era avant-garde classic Liquid Sky, goofball Svengali film Lucifer's Women, and late '70s UK erotic sci-fi horror from the UK, Prey. Check out the details below
Slava Tsukerman's Liquid Sky is one weird movie. Directed by a Russian immigrant in 1982 and ostensibly about an alien that comes to Earth looking to feed off of the pleasure of Earthlings by murdering them while in the throes of passion, Liquid Sky is far more an exercise in art and artifice than any kind of coherent narrative story. Art designed to within an inch of its life, the film is an audio/visual experiment unlike many others that owes far more to the work of someone like Derek Jarman's avant garde expression than the gritty realism of a young Penelope Spheeris. It's a unique experience that most certainly won't be to everyone's tastes, but if those two filmmakers I mentioned above get your wheels spinning, you'll want to give Liquid Sky a shot.
Margaret (actress/writer/visionary Anne Carlisle) is a fashion model in a neon approximation of New York City in the early '80s. Jimmy (also Carlisle) is her abusive, uncaring, manipulative boyfriend. While they are busy attempting to make a life from a bunch of scraps, tiny aliens land on the roof of their building looking to suck the cuty dry for their own selfish needs. A German doctor attempts to thwart the invasion to little avail. All and sundry dress fancy, pose their asses off, and dance to bizarre proto-electronic beeps in some of the most out-there fashion you're likely to see for a long time.
Liquid Sky is almost two hours long, and I can't say that a whole lot of it makes narrative sense, but it's never visually or aurally boring and that goes a long way. It's definitely an experimental piece, akin to the more atonal and bizarre films of Jodorowsky or Kenneth Anger, but perhaps with less to actually say and more to show. I can't say loved it, but it's hard not to respect it.
Vinegar Syndrome takes a stab at this long out of print title via an absolutely gorgeous new 4K restoration from the original 35mm negative that makes it look as though the film was shot yesterday. The neon color palette pops, fine detail and delineation are jaw-dropping, and the film looks gorgeous in motion. The audio is also cleaned up and the track supports the stilted dialogue and oddball electronic soundtrack well. Even if you don't love the film, this would be an exceptional disc to throw on in the background at a party and just watch as your guests slow down and stop to gaze upon its bizarreness, one by one.
VS teams up with director Tsukerman and star Carlisle to provide hours of bonus material, making this the clearly definitive version of a cult classic that definitely deserved one. There is an audio commentary for the film featuring Tsukerman that is a bit sporadic, but informative. There is also a 50 minute making-of doc made by Tsukerman in 2017 that visits a lot of the surviving cast and crew as well as locations with plenty of tidbits about the film. There are separate interviews with Tsukerman and Carlisle, still fast friends after almost forty years, as well as a Q&A session from a 2017 screening of the film in New York. All of these features are joined by rehearsal footage, an alternate opening, trailers, outtakes, and an isolated soundtrack on the disc that means this release provides hours of context to help the viewer parse the film. Let me tell you, every bit of it helps.
Liquid Sky is a document of an artist and his muse in a unique time and place that couldn't be less commercial if it tried, but that's what makes the vision so compelling. This is one hell of a movie, and one hell of a disc.