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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

VHS Vednesday: Liquid Dreams

LIQUID DREAMS (1991). Directed by Mark S. Manos. Starring Candice Daly, Richard Steinmetz, and Barry Dennen.

An ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful attempt at science-fiction noir, Liquid Dreams stars the ill-fated Candice Daly as Eve Black, a young woman just arriving in the big city to visit her sister...only to find her dead under mysterious circumstances. Since the police are ready to dismiss her sister's death as a drug overdose, Eve takes it upon herself to investigate by taking a job as a taxi-dancer at the club where her sister worked. She soon finds herself over her head with some of the most creepy characters ever seen, in an operation much bigger than she's ever imagined.
Director Mark S. Manos creates an interesting atmosphere, showcasing a stylish neon-futuristic city with a seedy, sleazy underbelly. (Because no matter how advanced the world may get, there will always be dive bars and fleabag hotels.) However, the movie comes perilously close to collapsing under the weight of its own bizarre elements...and while the MacGuffin of the story fits right into the film's future milieu, it doesn't change the fact that the basic storyline (heroine investigates loved one's death, gets mixed up with underworld, falls for tough, stoic cop) is as old as the hills.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Candice Daly provides an appealing characterization as the determined heroine; it's a shame her career never really took off. I have no way of knowing whether a more successful career might have led to circumstances that would have prevented her untimely death...or perhaps the limelight might have accelerated it; who can say? God, this is a depressing train of thought...let's move on to the rest of the cast.
The movie is chock-full of offbeat character actors, most prominently Barry Dennen (perhaps best remembered as Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar) as the primary villain, supported by former fashion model Juan Fernandez (recently seen as the title character in the Saw rip-off The Collector) as his equally sleazy right-hand man. In smaller parts, we've got such colorful performers as Tracey Walter, Paul Bartel, Mink Stole (of the John Waters repertory players), and punk rock legend John Doe. While none of their performances can be faulted individually, together they add up to a virtual overdose of quirkiness.



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