Title – They Live (1988)
Director – John Carpenter (Halloween)
Cast – Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster, George Flower
Plot – Drifter Nada (Piper) enters the big city looking for work and hot meals, what he gets is a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see the world for what it is – a world in which aliens have secretly infiltrated and slowly but surely taken over. Purple singlets and ally fights ensue.
“I got news for ’em. There’s gonna be hell to pay. ‘Cause I ain’t Daddy’s little boy no more”
Review by Eddie on 11/02/2014
Hopefully any film fan will agree that there is a true unbridled joy found in the watching of a John Carpenter film from his 1980’s heydays. With The Thing, The Fog, Starman, Escape From New York and Big Trouble in Little China the decade was a productive, unique and enjoyable time for the master of schlock and all his fans. Ending off the decade of greatness was 1988’s They Live and while not in the same league as the previously mentioned films is still a thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi yarn that had a lot to say then and even more to say in today’s climate.
Carpenters yarn is a film that operates on many a level whether it be as a comedy, a political/social commentary, a Sci-Fi or merely a low budget action flick and is a tale that has more ideas than a dozen modern day movies. The centralised tale of drifter Nada played by the muscle clad Wrestlemania star Roddy Piper is an excuse for Carpenter to critique the ever growing marketing of the modern world where everything exists to sell or promote to the people. It’s a startling idea realised in a still grand fashion of magic glasses that allow the wearer to see things for what they are – come to the Caribbean is replaced with “Marry and reproduce” marketing signs replaced by the lone and now famous “Obey”. With a low budget Carpenter realised many a great idea even if he made no secret of production hearkening to 50’s Sci-Fi production design.
When praising many elements of They Live it must also be stated that when compared to other works of Carpenters career peaks it pales in comparison, not fit to wear Snake’s eye patch or hold MacReady’s flamethrower, it’s a film that jumps a little too much in tone and the finale is somewhat too haphazard to end the film off on a high. Piper to is too cold in the main role, the wrong side of being too cool for school and the musical score by Carpenter and musical partner Alan Howarth is also a little too frequent and repetitive to not grate by the hour mark. Small criticisms of an enjoyable film yet enough to tarnish it from true classic territory.
They Live is a lively, energetic and unique film that is deserving of a watch by any Carpenter or Sci-Fi fan. Featuring unquestionably one of cinemas greatest fight scenes and ideas/concepts that have now seeped into everyday culture They Live stands as a historic and important part of movies as we know them today.
3 and a half unnaturally long ally fights out of 5