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  • Writer's pictureMr. Pat

They Live

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

The 247th review overall!

I just saw a commercial for Lucky Charms where kids are trying to capture him to get his cereal. I haven’t seen one of those commercials in forever. I remember growing up and the kids always chasing that leprechaun and never catching him. I’m glad they’re bringing that campaign back. Before I got that blast from the past, I went to Starz and Dear, Lincoln and I watched...

They Live (1988)

We open up with Roddy Piper as a drifter looking for work. He comes across a site and befriends the always-awesome Keith David. After work, David takes him to a homeless colony where he’s staying because it has “hot food and hot showers.” Eventually Roddy Piper comes across a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see what’s really going on. There are aliens living among us, and the images we see on TV and billboards are the aliens trying to indoctrinate us, the most famous being billboards with just the sign saying “OBEY”.

The movie is very heavy handed with its politics, I disagree with the message of the movie, but having political differences isn’t a deal breaker for me, because this a real fun movie. There are really only two characters worth knowing and they’re perfectly cast. Roddy Piper just oozes charisma and even when the movie starts getting crazy and the lines get goofier, it works because Piper sells everything perfectly. He’s able to play it straight one minute then adlib things like, “I came here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubble gum,” and never be out of place. He’s great in it and Keith David is fantastic as well.

Now, you can’t do a review of this movie, or have a conversation about it without mentioning the fight scene. Piper is trying to get David to put on the sunglasses shortly after Piper goes on a killing spree (they were all aliens). David, naturally, doesn’t want anything to do with it and refuses to put them on. From there they start fighting... and fighting... and fighting. It goes on forever and it’s five-plus minutes of cinematic gold. It’s crazy how long it goes on, and it’s just straight forward two men beating the shit out of each other over a pair of sunglasses. There are no gimmicks, there aren’t quick cuts, cool-looking moves, it’s just full of brutal punches, knees, slams and elbows, it’s really incredible. The fight was originally supposed to be 20-seconds long. But Piper and David rehearsed the thing for weeks, so when the cameras started rolling, they surprised everyone. Carpenter liked it so much he kept the whole thing and the world is a better place because of it.

As the movie goes on the more outlandish it gets and it’s fun to watch the stakes jump as the movie continues. It starts with a man just trying to eventually get the American Dream, to a conspiracy, to an alien invasion to a story about global domination, it’s entertaining seeing David and Piper just hop right in without blinking or hesitation so soon after the beating they gave each other.

I do have one complaint though, it kind of drags at certain points. While it’s an entertaining movie it’s not one of John Carpenter’s bests. That’s not exactly a bad thing because the man is responsible for several classic movies, but it seems this one isn’t up to the level of his other ones. It’s still good but I think it’s mainly the strength of the leads and the score that plays pretty much anytime there’s a quiet moment. Not great, but very enjoyable.

7 Dr. Chainsaws!

Dear’s thoughts, she gave me the middle finger mirroring Roddy Piper at the very end. Crazy Dear!

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