Liquid Sky [1982]

This 1983 science fiction oddity, set in the subterranean world of heroin addicts, performance artists, and androgynous models in New York's East Village, became a staple of the midnight movie circuit and college campus film societies. A tiny UFO lands on the roof of a grungy penthouse apartment inhabited by androgynous model Anne Carlisle and her drug-dealing lover Paula E. Sheppard (the former child star of Alice, Sweet Alice). As explained with deadpan gravity by hilariously naive alien hunter Otto Von Wernherr, the UFOs congregate in areas of intense heroin concentration and feed off the highs of addicts. This alien has found a better high: orgasms. Russian émigré Slava Tsukerman's punk sci-fi feature takes the alien in alienation seriously, charting the mental disintegration of Carlisle as every sexual partner dies in climax and she turns herself into a heroine-chic angel of death. Easily the strangest to come out of the New York indie explosion of the early '80s, this low budget classic is talky and overlong at almost two hours, but remains an imaginative use of bargain-basement effects (heat aura photography, stop motion animation) for a tale of a most unusual alien encounter. Tsukerman co-composed the minimalist electronic score (in the Laurie Anderson vein). Carlisle, who cowrote the film, also appears as a surly gay male model. --Sean Axmaker

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