John Carpenter has pretty much always been regarded as one the greatest directors in the horror community. While I have seem some of his films that I think were overrated, there is no denying that a lot of his filmography really is outstanding.
The master of horror’s 1988 sci-fi action flick, They Live, utilizes the formula of that period perfectly. There’s a bunch of cheesy, yet great, one-liners, awesome 80’s action, creepy looking non-humans, and even Roddy Piper’s mullet! What more could you ask for? Speaking of the rowdy one, I was pleasantly surprised by his performance. He was always good on the microphone and in the ring, but he really did do a great job in front of the camera of this feature film.
They Live is a story of beings from another planet who seem to be controlling the entire planet via subliminal signs and signals, especially through television airwaves. With the help of some specially made sunglasses, a small group of humans see through the facade and try to take the alien beings out of the picture for good.
I generally loathe when critics and fans alike remark on the ‘social commentary expressed in blah blah blah,’ but it really is hard to miss in the case of this film. Although the critical response to They Live was largely negative upon its original release, I feel that the statements made by the film still hold up to this day.
If you’re a Carpenter fan and/or just enjoy 80’s cheese, you definitely need to watch this film. They Live gets 4 sunglasses out of 5.
Boy, I always knew this day would come… the day I could rant about how much I love John Carpenters They Live. This movie is so much more than meets the eye. To the average horror fan, it’s just a fun sci-fi movie, but to others, myself included, it’s heralded as one of the best films of all time.
In pure Carpenter fashion, this film has a gritty 80’s/slightly futuristic feel to it. It has enough campiness, action, and conspiracy to make anyone happy. Roddy Piper and Keith David set plans into action to reveal the alien race and begin a revolution, supported by the always great Meg Foster, George ‘Buck’ Flower and Peter Jason (all of which Carpenter worked with a lot in the 80’s).
They Live does an amazing job resonating with the ‘every man’ — working factory and manual labor jobs never able to get ahead, while it seems like everyone around you is better off and working less. Everyone can relate and Carpenter took that concept and ran with it. All too familiar with films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Thing, centering around the loss of humanity and the fear of the unknown.
I regard this film as Carpenter’s best work. The alley fight scene alone is reason enough to see this film. If you don’t own a copy, I highly suggest chasing down the Shout! Factory special edition blu-ray for a ton of special features and a beautiful transfer. CONSUME.
This film gets the Rottin’ Roger Demarco seal of approval with 4.5 subliminal messages out of 5.