Saturday, May 8, 2010
They Live (1988, John Carpenter)
I remember a few years ago I was scrolling through a horror T shirt website when I stumbled upon a shirt that caught my eye. It had a guy with a plaid shirt and a mullet with the quote "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubble gum". The quote sounded familiar but honestly I had no idea what film it was from. It wasn't until some time later when a co-worker was talking about They Live and recited the same quote. They Live was a film I have been familiar with for a long time but just never got around to watching. I actually saw Roddy Piper (the star of the film) at a horror convention a few years ago but had no interest meeting him (much to the disappointment of my previously mentioned co-worker).
Roddy Piper stars as George Nada, a homeless drifter looking for some work and a place to sleep. He finds work at a construction site and befriends co-worker Frank (Keith David). George notices some weird stuff happening at a local church and investigates. He finds a pair of sunglasses that allows him to see that the world is being taken over by aliens. He must find a way to stop them before they take over the world.
They Live was a mixed bag for me. I liked the story and its political views (which are as relevant now as they were in 1988). I also liked Carpenter's slick direction and many of the images used in the film (especially the aliens and the other visions seen through the sunglasses). The shoot outs and the seemingly unending brawl between Piper and David were both very well done. I thought the last third of the film was great. My main problem with the film was the characters. Piper, David and Meg Foster were all fine but their characters didn't really engage me. They just seemed kind of hollow and weren't as interesting as what was going on around them. I was told that this is a film a lot of people love who grew up with it and have watched it many times. Maybe that could be part of the problem, being a They Live virgin.