I went through a phase as a teenager during which I tired to watch as many weird movies as possible. To some extent I succeeded. But this wasn’t an easy thing to do back in the 1980s. Obviously there was no streaming and movies on cable were limited to a relatively small number of channels like HBO and Showtime, so the best source was your local video store. If you were lucky it was a big shop. It if was a mom-and-pop place, well, your options were pretty limited. Plus there was the whole problem of getting to the video store if, like me, you lived kind of in the sticks. Someone’s parents had to drive you and be willing to wait around while you read the back of the box for every strange thing that caught your eye. Times were hard. We earned it.
Somehow I missed Liquid Sky, which is too bad because I’m pretty sure I’d have rented it over and over again. Holly and I ran across it on a streaming service the other day and it kind of blew our minds. The story is that aliens come to Earth searching for heroin, only to find that human brain chemistry during orgasms is more power, so they start basically “taking” people when they’re in the throws of passion. Because… it’s the early 1980s. And there were Russians involved in the filming. Add in some neon, tons of make-up, androgyny, drugs, sex, and a cast and crew with almost no filmmaking experience and you have a major head-trip.
Almost the entire Liquid Sky score was composed on a Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument, it’s 8-bit recordings contributing to something that sounded both futuristic and sort of child-like at the same time, a step in what quickly became rapidly-evolving progression of musical technology. Much of it has a plinky, calliope-like sound to it, but with added elements that take that familiar feeling and twist it, infusing an undercurrent of creepy dread into everything. Most of the tracks are instrumental, with the notable exception of the no-wavish “Me And My Rhythm Box” in all of it’s delightful strangeness. The entire thing is pretty bizarre. Just like the movie.