‘They Live’ Review: I have come here to Chew Bubblegum and Kick Ass

Posted in The Screening Room by - February 19, 2015

There are some films in our Sci-Fi Marathon that are so awesome and such complete films that I end up at a loss for words when it comes to writing the review. It’s on these rare occasions that I wish I could just use the “It’s good, watch it” cop out, but when you sit back and reflect on a movie like They Live, you start noticing that there is such incredible commentary on society during the late 80s and that is still relevant today.

Director and writer John Carpenter adapted the story for They Live from a short story by Ray Nelson called “Eight O’Clock in the Morning”. This is one of the rare instances where I’m some what familiar with source material and Carpenter’s adaptation is probably as true to the source as it can be while still making it fit for the big screen. If you’re curious about reading “Eight O’Clock in the Morning”, you can do so here.

The only problem with the writing for They Live, is that some of the more important story points are not fully explored. The use of shortcuts through out the script predispose this film to being disenchanting, boring, and rushed. However, Carpenter managed to do just enough to avoid all of this and produced a fantastically fun alien invasion sci-fi film that has some serious staying power.

The social commentary in They Live on consumerism, the idea of “selling out”, and even subliminal messaging in the media are rather powerful which coincides with the rebellious nature of the 1980s. 

What’s probably the most interesting and relevant today, and probably the thing I’m most impressed with, is the solid commentary on the supposed control of the population by a powerful upper class. This concept rings true with just the astronomical amount of material our current media outlets produce. The idea that the upper class elite, or a secret invading force of aliens in the case of They Live,  can single handedly control so much of our daily lives should be a frightening concept then and now.

They Live is a politically subversive blend of horror and sci-fi that has flown under the radar for far too long. It is a wake-up call to the world in a class with Terminator and Robocop, They Live is an incredible sci-fi film that needs to be on your “To Watch” list immediately whether you think yourself a sci-fi connessiuer or just a movie buff. 

Final Say: Watch It

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