Liquid Sky 1982 ***

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Liquid Sky sounded like quite an amazing movie when it first came out in 1982; aliens who invade New York to harvest the opiate produced at the moment of orgasm from beautiful clubbers? Sign me up, thought my 13 year old self, only to be somewhat stymied and baffled by the art-house, post-Warhol leanings of Liquid Sky itself. Don’t expect any aliens, in fact, there’s only a paper-plate flying saucer, and special effects are restricted largely to basic chroma-key which interrupt rather than illustrate Slavia Tsukerman’s sci-fi drama. The focus is not really sex, or sci-fi, but drugs, specifically heroin and cocaine, both of which seem to be widely popular in the slice of NYC rooftop club-land featured. Margaret (Anne Carlisle) plays both Margaret and Jimmy, two characters who get caught up in the alien’s enthusiasm for heroin; with glass shards appearing embedded in the heads of victims, who then vanish into thin air, it’s clear that there’s something allegorical going on, but Liquid Sky is too slippery to allow an easy definition. Whatever’s going on, the costumes are wild, the NYC club scene is well caught, and the print on Amazon Prime is surprisingly good; Liquid Sky has become a huge cult movie, and if you’ve never heard of it, broad-minded viewers will always find something outré in this weird and occasionally wonderful film.

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Road House 1989 ***

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Joel Silver could certainly package an action movie in the 80’s and 90’s. Whatever audience feelings might have been about Patrick Swayze’s believability as a super-tough bouncer, the diminutive star manages to cut the mustard as Dalton, a man who has a talent for ripping throats out with his bare hands. Dalton moves from NYC to Jasper, Mississippi to keep the locals in line at the Double Deuce, an odd rough-and-tumble drinking den that’s more brightly lit than an airport lounge, where the baby-faced Jeff Healey appears to permanently playing his guitar on-stage and Kathleen Wilhoite, Luke’s sister in Gilmore Girls, hangs out at the bar. Dalton’s presence annoys sleaze-ball local boss Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara), who has the locals contributing a good ten per cent of their income to his slush fund, which he seems to spend on idiotic henchmen and a lair of giant stuffed animals and polar bears. Such ostentatious living is alien to the humble Dalton, who prefers to live in a shack without electricity that he hires from a local Santa. Dalton and Wesley are on a collision course, and if that’s not enough to hang a redneck movie on, Sam Elliott turns up as bouncer’s bouncer Wade Garrett and there’s even a gratuitous ‘intimidation by monster truck’ set piece involving smashing up a car dealership. While no masterpiece, Road House just about gets the job done with hiss-able villains and knockabout camaraderie from the leads. The romantic subplot is a bit of a pain, but Road House has a far more accomplished cast than a Patrick Swayze punch-up flick requires, and it’s a guilty pleasure for when a serious film is just too much trouble. When you’re director is called Rowdy Herrington, you probably know what you’re getting.