Director: John Carpenter
Producer: Larry Franco
Release date: November 4th 1988
Budget: $3 million
Box Office: $13 million
It’s been pretty damp and grey in my part of the world for a while and I need some colour in my life. I suddenly remembered a film that I had not consumed before and decided to give it a whirl. I think I first became fully aware of They Live in 2016 after reading an interview with Hal Hefner, whose paintings had been exhibited at the Glastonbury Festival.
Since then he has become even more prolific and his take on Star Wars and Disney has certainly made me smile. If you would like to know more about him, click on his link below.
Anyway, time to get back to the film. Based on a short story “Eight O’clock in the Morning” by Ray Nelson in 1963, They Live follows unemployed drifter John Nada Roddy Piper as he uncovers an invasion by aliens with the help of a pair of special sunglasses. I was never the biggest wrestling fan and only watched one film with Roddy Piper in before, unfortunately, that was Hell Comes to Frogtown. To be fair to the film, I can’t remember anything about it. I do remember it was very last choice in the video rental store and I thought long and hard before taking it home.
I thought Roddy did pretty well in They Live and I did enjoy some of his one-liners but he pretty much became a poor man’s John Rambo by the end of the film. I feel a bit harsh saying that because I can see the appeal of his character but he really looked confused at times, maybe that is top-quality acting and I never realised it? I think he was pretty blessed to find himself starring in this film though as it’s the aliens and the messages of the story that makes the movie a cult classic.
I’m just giving my views as someone who has sat down and watched the film for the first time and I’m pretty sure this film is a complete masterpiece to others. In my opinion, the story is pretty solid but I couldn’t help feeling it could have been so much more. Don’t take those words as negative as I also think this film has one of the best concepts I have come across and some of the most beautiful iconography I have ever watched on screen.
When John Nada puts on those glasses for the first time, it actually blew my mind how amazing it looked and to make it look like an early 50’s black and white science-fiction movie is one of the most Ingenius decisions ever.
The look of the aliens is beyond fantastic and the imagination to create something that looks so spectacular is really jaw-dropping to me. Maybe it is the simplicity of the film that makes it special. I really enjoyed how the aliens integrate with the humans with ease and it gives you a chance to have a laugh at some of the scenarios John Nada finds himself in. I will say that it has served its purpose in making my day a little better and sometimes, that’s all you need.
Okay, it’s pretty funny that an alien race is trying to control the wealth of the planet by getting us to reproduce and consume as much as possible, but some people are pretty alien to me in the real world, and that’s the film’s underlying message. There are very few people that can really get away from modern life and live free, but for the rest of us, there is no escape. If anything, it’s only the rise in consumerism and the power of the media that raises the film’s popularity. I guess we all consume something that isn’t necessarily making our lives better but we do it anyway, including myself. The film reminds me of the real wealth in life and a little less grumpy about the weather. Time to go for a walk and enjoy some fresh air.
Thank you for reading and I do want to learn more about this film. Are there any other spin-offs including books etc… that I can check out? Please let me know in the comments below. I also think They Live would be a perfect idea for a reboot at the moment. In my opinion, it would be a little darker and set on a much larger scale. I would really like to hear your thoughts.