Tag Archives: Anne Carlisle

Liquid Sky (1983)

liquid sky

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: Aliens invade punk hangout.

No matter how many years go by this film remains cutting edge. It’s one of the few movies made in the 80’s that makes fun of its own era and those that considered themselves hip and sophisticated.

The plot has to do with a young punk girl named Margaret (Anne Carlisle) living with her lesbian roommate Adrian (Paula E. Sheppard) in a New York City penthouse. The place is frequented by the usual weirdos, vagabonds and druggiess. The two make a living by dealing drugs and offering indiscriminate sex. One day a spaceship the size of a dinner plate and filled with aliens that have no shape or form lands on their penthouse roof and zaps away anyone who has an orgasm. Margaret is unable to achieve climax so she is left remaining while everyone else is gone, which convinces her that someone or something has finally ‘recognized’ her and that she is ‘special’.

Literally every camera shot, scene and line of dialogue is unique. This film not only has an offbeat point-of -view, but reinforces it by constantly looking, feeling, thinking, and sounding different, which includes its funky musical soundtrack. There is no compromising here. The filmmakers believe in their material and keep it true to form throughout forcing the viewer to adjust to its bizarre sensibilities. Yet if you do you will not be disappointed. It’s pace and sense of humor has a fresh free-form flow not seen since the European new wave films of the 60’s.

Despite the radical style it still touches on many universals including the human need for acceptance, understanding, fulfillment, and communication. It also takes jabs at many of modern society’s fringe groups who many times can end up embodying the same hypocrisy as the mainstream.

Star Carlisle also wrote the screenplay and the novel version of this film and based it on her own experiences while involved in the punk scene during the late 70’s. She hasn’t been in a film since 1990 and today lives in southern Florida and is involved in both psychotherapy and teaching. Here is a recent pic of her:

anne carlisle

Her co-star Paula E. Sheppard, who if recent reports are correct has now changed her name and working as a nurse in the Seattle area, gives another great performance. This turned out to be her last film and one of only two that she was in her other film Alice Sweet Alice will be reviewed on Wednesday.

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: April 15, 1983

Runtime: 1Hour 51Minutes

Rated R

Director: Slava Tsukerman

Studio: Cinevista

Available: VHS, DVD (out-of-print) 

Perfect Strangers (1984)

perfect strangers

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Kid witnesses a murder.

Johnny (Brad Rijn) is a local hit-man who knifes someone to death in a back alley. Little does he know that behind a nearby fence is a 2-year-old toddler peeking out through a small opening and witnessing the whole thing.  As Johnny is about to leave he suddenly becomes aware of the child, but as the police are coming he runs. He is connected to the mob and when he tells them of the incident they advise him that he must kill the child simply to be extra cautious. Johnny then decides to get in a relationship with the boy’s attractive single mother Sally (Anne Carlisle) with the idea that he will get close enough to her that she will trust him to be alone with the kid where he will then off him and make it look like an accident.

The child who is played by a very young actor named Matthew Stockley is extremely cute to the point of being adorable. The idea of any harm coming to him is almost unthinkable, which helps create some tension and the climatic sequence where he is chased by Johnny though an abandoned, shadowy warehouse is well done.

However, the film’s biggest weakness is the Johnny character who is too damn nice to the point that I even started to like him as the film progressed. The guy is great with the kid and shows a definite sensitive side and is reluctant to harm the child and only considers it because the rest of the mob pushes him to. This then pretty much mutes the tension and the film would have been more exciting had the character been portrayed as a cold-hearted psycho. I also found it a bit contradicting that this otherwise nice guy could so easily kill other people. The extremes in the personality didn’t connect although at one point he does at least say ‘sorry’ to one of his victims as he drags the dead body away after viciously killing him.

Carlisle is excellent. She is probably best known for starring in as well as writing the screenplay for the cult hit Liquid Sky. There she played a teenage punk, but here filmed only 2 years later she comes off as a mature full-grown woman and her effective performance helps carry the film. Otto von Wernherr who was also in that movie appears as a private eye hired to follow Johnny around.

Stephan Lack who was in Scanners and just about ruined the film with his terrible performance is surprisingly good here as an aggressive police detective who hounds Sally for answers and won’t leave her alone. Ann Magnuson is somewhat amusing as a man-hating feminist Nazi.

If writer/director Larry Cohen scores anywhere it is in his ability to vividly show the street culture and eclectic, busy atmosphere of New York City life. One bit has hundreds of woman marching down the street in an anti-rape parade and when Johnny tries to get involved in it the woman aggressively pushes him back out. Things flow enough to make it mildly entertaining, but the film lacks distinction and is ultimately forgettable.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: November 24, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 31Minutes

Rated R

Director: Larry Cohen

Studio: Larco Productions

Available: DVD