Unstreamable is a column where Jas Keimig and Chase Burns recommend movies and TV shows you can’t watch on major streaming services in the United States. We publish every Wednesday.
JAS: We’re leading with Liquid Sky. I found myself in the depths of Scarecrow’s Psychotronic Room the other week and randomly picked this one off the shelf because it sounded like a line from a poem (it’s slang for heroin, lol). When I looked it up, I realized I’d read about it before and was pleased to learn that Vinegar Syndrome did an excellent remaster a couple of years ago. It really embodies watching something for the visuals, not the plot…
CHASE: And I’ll follow that recommendation with one for the weebs. Urusei Yatsura is back with a new anime, so let’s give its creator Rumiko Takahashi her flowers by highlighting the original series, all of which is available at Scarecrow. (Al’s on the Ave also has a ton of Urusei stuff for sale.)
JAS: Also, you might notice Matt Baume’s byline missing. That’s because Matt’s working on finishing edits for his upcoming book (!!!), so he’s taking some time off this fall. It’s back to me and Chase! Let’s go!
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USA, 1982, 112 min, Dir. Slava Tsukerman
I have to admit—I have a hard time following Liquid Sky’s plot. The characters’ chaotic relationships, the sexual assault scenes, and copious drug use kind of make the story’s finer points a bit sluggish. But what Liquid Sky lacks in plot, it more than makes up for with its incredible style, set design, and queer world-building.
The film centers around two cocaine-addicted models Margaret and Jimmy who are both played by the gender-bending Anne Carlisle. Jimmy is suave in slicked-back hair and suits while Margaret—a bisexual with a drug dealer girlfriend—is often decked out in vibrant colors with bold geometric shapes painted across her face. In fact, the whole movie is soaked in neon colors and moody lighting as it moves from bedroom to club dance floor, trippy like the inside of a kaleidoscope. When a UFO lands on the roof of Margaret and her girlfriend’s building, the alien inside feeds on the orgasms of people Margaret fucks. The feeding kills them in a process that’s depicted with a filter resembling a psychedelic heat sensor. It’s wild.
Liquid Sky is one of the highest-grossing indie movies of its time and eventually had a lasting influence over early 2000s culture. In particular, the movie deeply informed the electroclash/Berliniamsburg scene in New York City at the turn of the millennium. You can definitely see bits of Jimmy and Margaret in the way artists like Peaches, Chicks on Speed, and even Lady Gaga at the end of the decade styled themselves. Neon and Liquid Sky live on forever… JAS KEIMIG
Find it in the Psychotronic room in the Sci-Fi section.
Japan,1981-1986, 30 min episodes, Created by Rumiko Takahashi
The obnoxious aliens have crash-landed on Earth again.
A little lost among the buzzy names of this fall’s anime season—Bleach is back and on Hulu—is the return of Urusei Yatsura, the first major work from legendary mangaka Rumiko Takahashi. Originally published in Shonen Jump beginning in 1978, Takahashi broke through the glass ceiling of the male-dominated manga industry with her famous comedy story about an alien princess named Lum and her destructive crush on a dumb-dumb human teenager. (Urusei Yatsura can be translated a few different ways, but a rough translation could be “obnoxious aliens.”) American anime fans are usually familiar with a few of Takahashi’s series (Inuyasha, Ranma ½), but Urusei, like Takahashi’s funny romance series Maison Ikkoku, hasn’t received the same treatment by distributors.
There’s been a solid effort to change that over the past few years. VIZ is in the middle of republishing Takahashi’s work, including Urusei and Maison, and TV Tokyo launched a new 46-episode series of Urusei last week. Like Jas’ pick Liquid Sky, the revamped Urusei is vibrant and neon-hued, aimed at capturing a new generation of fans. Still, it’s faithful to its manga and original anime series, which ran throughout the ’80s and is currently unstreamable in the US. I stumbled into the Urusei manga during the pandemic and found it funny, horny, and inventive—though people expecting something feminist from Takahashi might be disappointed. Takahashi draws Lum like a sex symbol, and she falls into many stereotypes, but she also breaks many of them. It all deserves a deeper look. CHASE BURNS
Find it in the Anime room. The original anime is unstreamable. The new anime is available in the US every week via HI DIVE. If you’re looking for a place to start the series, the second Urusei Yatsura movie, Beautiful Dreamer, directed by Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii, is a solid place to start. The new VIZ manga is great, too.
Looking for more? Browse our big list of 350+ hard-to-find movies over on The Stranger.
The fine print: Unstreamable means we couldn’t find it on Netflix, Hulu, Shudder, Disney+, or any of the other hundreds of streaming services available in the United States. We also couldn’t find it available for rent or purchase through platforms like Prime Video or iTunes. Yes, we know you can find many things online illegally, but we don’t consider user-generated videos, like unauthorized YouTube uploads, to be streamable.