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You can skip movies 10 times but never go back.
Nada, a down-on-his-luck construction worker, discovers a pair of special sunglasses. Wearing them, he is able to see the world as it really is: people being bombarded by media and government with messages like "Stay Asleep", "No Imagination", "Submit to Authority". Even scarier is that he is able to see that some usually normal-looking people are in fact ugly aliens in charge of the massive campaign to keep humans subdued.
What strikes me most about Carpenter is his coolness, the calm deliberation with which he lets his plots unfurl. This premise, in the hands of any other filmmaker, would be a lightning quick action comedy, Men in Black or Big Trouble in Little China style. But instead it's almost an hour into a 90 minute film before the hero convinces someone else to try on the glasses. And the film's signature showpiece, the big action number, is a good old-fashioned slugging match between two friends, all over the one's stubborn refusal to do something as simple as try on a pair of glasses (hilariously allegorical, of course). Even the film's most famous line, one I've known for years (as I…
"Hey baby, what's wrong?"
Carpenter's deliberate, surgical eye for conflict and its escalation reaches a peak in They Live, a true 80s middle-finger thriller. The back and forth strolls to the church, the constant police sightings, and the nervous glances aimed towards the bright blue sky in fear of helicopters is a byproduct of Carpenter's masterful talent of building up an unknown force; a presence that feeds on the terror and vulnerability of those awake in the face of mass control. Each scene is methodically executed, and while other directors may have gone for a more ambitious approach, Carpenter happily builds a small but detailed world and peppers plot progression within it. Take, for instance, Roddy Piper's first experience…
I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum.
John Carpenter's commercial appeal peaked in 1984 when he made Starman, a film that earned Jeff Bridges an Oscar nomination. A mere two years later Carpenter's brilliant Big Trouble in Little China would bomb at the box office and his career would never really recover. It only took one box office disappointment and suddenly the director could no longer find financing for his films. The quality of his next films are arguable, but there is no question that his best work was now behind him although he did have one last success in him.
They Live is Carpenter's last box office success, even…
why are the skull aliens still buying magazines and groceries and shit
(Part 7 of "Arielrocks5’s List of films to do for Todd Gaines’ Challenge! (George Lucas Special Edition Gen X Director’s Cut)"
Challenge: "A movie directed by John Carpenter.")
"They Live" paints a world where everything we strive to in order to stay alive is contRollEd by An upper hanD, not of the government, but of beings from another world.
One that is forcefully feeding us messages without us even knowing it, telling us how to Live, what to buy, what to belIeve in, and who to trust.
It's the type of premise typically found in B-Movies from the 40s and 50s, just given a modern updated that still holds true to this very day. If anything, it honestly worKs even…
April 17, 1954 – July 31, 2015
What a horribly sad day this turned out to be. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper isn't just a former wrestler, he was a huge part of the golden age of wrestling in the 80s when professional wrestling was one of the most important things in kid DuLac's life (like many kids of the 80s). It really is the passing of a childhood hero who was just as much fun to watch when he was a villain.
Now Canadian wrestling fans have a tendency to be incredibly loyal to their countrymen. It's like a pride thing I guess... for a fake sport. Now Piper was billed from Glasgow, Scotland, but us Canucks knew…
OBEY. SUMBIT. CONSUME. Put on the glasses and read Jonathan Rosenbaum's review at The Chicago Reader--it's even more politically engaged than the movie. Here are a few choice excerpts:
"In fact, the movie is a confusing blend of anti-Reagan satire and genre conventions that make the film every bit as crass, amoral, and mulishly blinkered in its many rightwing assumptions as the attitudes it is ostensibly attacking."
"Other one-liners figure when the hero wants to comment on the ugliness of female aliens (male aliens, of course, never occasion such epithets)... The sexist glee of these giddy thigh-slappers, made 'acceptable' only because they're directed at aliens, is supposed to be mysteriously linked up with anti-Reagan satire, but the mixture won't wash:…
Appreciation of this film, much like Roddy Piper's hair in said film, I suppose requires proper cultural context, ironic detachment and a complete reassessment of subtlety as a virtue. Given those things I can understand how one could see it as something worth viewing.
But personally, I found it illogical, nonsensical, too long and in need of cutting.
Pretty sick that there's like a six minute pro wrestling match in the middle of this thing.
I’m pretty sure if you’ve heard of this movie, and kinda know the plot it’s gotta be on your “I should probably watch this some day list”. It’s about a dude with sick mullet, who finds these glasses that show that world the way it really is and its been taken over by aliens. Yeah its a pretty sick premise, and I really wanted this movie to be good…
It’s just…. kinda not. I mean fuck it’s not really that bad to be fair, its just not good. Like Roddy piper does have a sick mullet and he is pretty swole which is about as handsome a look you can have. He actually looks a lot like a jacked Mel…
"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum."
By all rights and all measure of logic, They Live simply should not work.
It's a wickedly smart, horrifyingly thought-provoking, blisteringly satirical take-down of our capitalistic society...
...which just so happens to be wrapped inside a gleefully and knowingly cheesy 80's sci-fi action horror B-movie.
At any given time, the film can flip on a dime between characters having righteously furious discourses over the evils and inequalities of - to use the modern parlance - the 1% ruling over the remaining 99%...
...and then moments later, we get treated to some deliciously corny, endlessly quotable one-liners that would make Schwarzenegger proud.
Scenes of existential…
After scrolling through some of the reviews of They Live on this website, I'm glad that nobody marked it down for being unsubtle or too cheesy. If it wasn't intended to be cheesy, a pro wrestler wouldn't have been cast in the lead, no punch-up scene, let alone one that starts over a pair of sunglasses, would've gone on for that fucking long, and the film simply wouldn't have worked.
As for the lack of subtlety, that's the whole idea. John Carpenter does a brilliant job of using a very entertaining premise to make bold statements on society, statements that he's not afraid to show as bluntly as possible. The story takes a while to get going and it's not quite on the same level of insanity as Big Trouble In Little China (1986) but it's still a lot of fun to watch.
One of my favourites from Carpenter. Two fight between David and Piper is the greatest in the history of cinema. Loads of cheesy one liners and a great critique of capitalism.
I love a bit of John Carpenter in my film diet. Especially 1988 cult classic They Live. Rowdy Roddy Piper is Nada - an out of work construction worker who hits the city in search of work. He comes across a pair of sunglasses which reveal the world as it REALLY is - the middle class controlled by the rich, a mass media saturated world where people are driven into consumerism fuelled pacification. Government messages are revealed in stark, bold black and white text on billboards, TV and newspapers - showing the messages of “OBEY” and “CONFORM”. Even more sinister is the revelation that the upper echelons of society are populated by an evil exploitative alien race. The constant Carpenter score is our companion throughout almost all of the film which works wonderfully. Funny in parts, action and fights galore - this is a great Cult Classic Carpenter.
Step One: Go to www.random.org.
Step Two: Pick a Number.
Step Three: GET WEIRD!
Ride a watersmooth-silver stallion.
My favorite movies as of 10/21/2016, one per director. Tentative.