They Live (review recommended by reader Julia)

Release Date: 11/4/1988 – Rated R

Starring: ‘Rowdy” Roddy Piper (The Piper’s Pit), Keith David (There’s Something About Mary)

Plot Summary:  Nada is a down on his luck drifter just looking for a chance to get back on his feet.  After finding some temporary work at a construction site, he meets fellow homeless guy Frank.  After work Frank takes them back to a squatter’s camp for the night.  While in the camp Nada sees a strange hacked signal on TV telling them that they are being controlled and influenced by others; he also notices some strange goings-on at a church across the street.  In the morning Nada goes to check out this church only to find that it is a front for an extremist group who manufacture sunglasses.  That night the police raid the church, as they were the ones hacking the airwaves and kill most of the occupants.  Nada goes back in the morning to find that one case of sunglasses survived the assault by the police.  While downtown he tries on the glasses and is astounded by what he sees.

The sunglasses reveal that there are hidden message under every form of print and advertising; messages such as ‘obey’, ‘marry and reproduce’ and ‘sleep’.  Not only that but, it shows that some people are not really people at all, but some type of fiendish ghoul.  The ghouls quickly realize that this man can see them for what they really are, and try to kill him.  Nada escapes back to the resistance with the help of Frank who takes some persuading to try on the glasses for the first time (in the form of the longest alley fight ever).  Nada and Frank go to the source of the signal that hides the ghoul’s true form in an effort to destroy it so that the humans can see they are under the influence of strange alien creatures.

Alex’s Thought’s:  Though extremely slow to start, the end of this movie isn’t too bad.  I didn’t hate it, but this isn’t something I need to watch frequently, once a decade should do.  There is some funny dialog and the concept is pretty good.  It’s pretty clear this movie didn’t have a huge budget, but they did alright with what they had.  I did enjoy the scene where Nada tries to get Frank to try on the glasses for the first time, the actors took what was supposed to be a 30 second fight scene and turned it into over 5 minutes of actual fighting; with the exception of the punches to the face and shots to the junk it was all real.

Tim’s Thoughts: I always wanted to know what the aliens/ghouls were doing with the brainwashing, I mean, it didn’t seem like they were eating humans, some of the creatures even had crummy everyday jobs. I like this movie mostly out of nostalgia, but all in all it’s not too bad. I always felt like it was missing something, just coming up short from being great. The aliens look awesome, there are funny lines, and Roddy Piper is kinda charming in spite of himself. I “like” not love this one, worth checking out just to say you’ve seen it, if you are that kind of movie fan.

Final Thoughts:This is an “ok” Carpenter movie, if you are a Roddy Piper completionist then it’s a must, but otherwise save this one for a marathon, or theme night.  Again, some awesome one-liners and great makeup but for some reason comes up short.

Alex Rates This Movie 4/10

Tim Rates This Movie 5/10

“You see, I take these glasses off, she looks like a regular person, doesn’t she? Put ’em back on… formaldehyde-face!”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here