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They Live [XDBX Film Club 06]

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They Live

They Live

About

  • Released


  • Rating


    7.2
  • Genre


    • Science Fiction
    • Action

Overview

Nada, a wanderer without meaning in his life, discovers a pair of sunglasses capable of showing the world the way it truly is. As he walks the streets of Los Angeles, Nada notices that both the media and the government are comprised of subliminal messages meant to keep the population subdued, and that most of the social elite are skull-faced aliens bent on world domination. With this shocking discovery, Nada fights to free humanity from the mind-controlling aliens.


Trailer

Credits

  • Roddy Piper
    Roddy Piper
    John Nada
  • Keith David
    Keith David
    Frank Armitage
  • Meg Foster
    Meg Foster
    Holly Thompsen
  • George Buck Flower
    George Buck Flower
    Drifter
  • Peter Jason
    Peter Jason
    Gilbert
  • Raymond St. Jacques
    Raymond St. Jacques
    Street Preacher
This page uses the themoviedb.org API.
LimeGreenLegend
Posted (edited)

This month's film club is all about b-movies, and when you look towards the upper end of that genre you start seeing the name John Carpenter quite a lot.  Director of classic genre films like Halloween, The Thing, Assault on Precinct 13, Escape from New York and The Fog, the film of his we'll be watching this month is the anti-consumerism manifesto that is 1988's They Live, nominated by @Pb76.

qfEvRGm.jpg

In my opinion the best film ever made that stars a wrestler (sorry Dwane), They Live is based on a short story, Eight O'Clock in the Morning, by Ray Nelson, from 1963, and stars "Rowdy" Roddy Piper as John Nada, a drifter who survives by working day labour in downtown LA.  Finding a box of magic sunglasses in a church, he discovers that the world is populated and run by a race of malignant aliens who subliminally manipulate the human population to consume, conform, and obey, keeping them ignorant of the truth.  These aliens discover that Nada knows who they are and set about to stop him.

This film, like most of Carpenter's filmography, has had a huge impact on pop culture, from the design of the aliens (you'll recognise them from the masks in GTA at least), the messages to obey becoming a part of street art legend thanks to Shepard Fairey (check out the excellent documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop for more about that) and the six-minute long punch up Piper has with Keith David, which is one of the best fight scenes in film history and has inspired a number of imitators.  

john carpenter comedy GIF

I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass - and I'm all out of bubblegum.

Edited by LimeGreenLegend
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djw180
Posted (edited)

As this is a B-movie I didn't have too high expectations in terms of acting, script etc but for most of the film it did better than my expectations and was quite entertaining.

I think it started started very well. The story is well constructed and very well paced. The lead and main support actors were as good as should be expected for this sort of film. Some of the minor characters were very wooden but with maybe one exception (see later) that didn't spoil it. The basic story is a good one and I've watched interviews with John Carpenter explaining some of his motivation, what the film is, and is not, about. The idea of the rich and powerful really being malignant aliens controlling the Earth and bribing gullible humans into accepting them by ensuring those who go along with it get promotions and other material benefits is a good story to make. (I have to mention at this point; I was watching a version on Youtube and the person who posted it had added their own subtitles occasionally telling me how this film is really about the Illuminati!). One other thing about the film in general; I've seen this classed as a “horror” film in some places. It isn't. I generally don't like horror films, I don't like being scared. There is nothing really scary in this. It's sci-fi with slightly scary looking aliens.

Now for the bad, for me. The last 20 minutes or so spoil it. I fell asleep, woke up and restarted the last 20 minutes twice! Even considering it was late at night and I had had a couple of drinks, that has to say something about how little I enjoyed the end of the film. So why was that? It's the bit starting from when Nada and Frank enter the alien HQ and make their way through the building to turn off the alien's signal. There's 3 things about this section that I really don't like.

Firstly the actor playing the man that gives them the tour, thinking they are converts to the alien scheme, is not very good at all, and his dialogue is quite banal at times. His was the acting I referred to earlier that I think did partly spoil it.

Secondly the film uses what I regard as bad sci-fi, that is attempting to explain the unexplainable with actual science. I'm referring to the the alien teleport machine. The tour guide man says something like “it uses gravity waves or something like that”. I am a scientist. I hate it when films do that. Sci-fi should either stick to just what is at least theoretically possible or don't bother trying to use scientific explanations. I don't mind either way. Both are perfectly valid for me. Maybe I am overplaying this and that scene is just meant to show how stupid the humans who have accepted their alien masters are, but it didn't seem like that to me. I know this is only a small part of the film, but they never bother explaining other things like how the glasses and wrist watches work or why the aliens are here in the first place, and that's fine. I think it's just this small bit of the film stands out to me as the worst scene in the worst section.

Thirdly and finally, Nada and Frank fighting their way through the building to the roof is like a bad 80s TV show, and I guess it does have a lot in common with those. I hate it when you have the good guys fighting off larger numbers of bad guys, all armed with automatic weapons, yet despite the fact that the good guys always shoot the bad guys the instant they see them, the bad guys never even inflict the slightest wound on the good guys. It's just silly! Why do it? If you want lots of shooting action, fine, no problem (so long as that's not all the film is about), but make it a bit more realistic please! It could have had a bigger group of good guys attacking the alien HQ, and only two of them getting to the roof. Or if it has to be just the two of them then they could use their brains a bit more to evade most of their enemies with stealth rather than firepower.

So to summarize, it was as good as I could have realistically expected for a B-movie for most of the film, but for me had a crap ending that spoiled it. Another 2/5 from me for this one.

 

Edited by djw180
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LimeGreenLegend

roddy piper GIF

The film starts with the sound of a train, signifying a journey, and we see Nada (Roddy Piper) walking through the railyard.  This guy is a drifter, an outsider, who will go on to fight the ultimate outsiders, the aliens.  I love the music at the start of the film, unlike other John Carpenter scores, this one is bluesy, which fits the blue collar character of Nada perfectly.  There is a great shot of Nada walking through the streets with the skyline of LA towering over him, a nice visual metaphor for the theme of the film.  There are also lots of shots of homeless people, showing us that despite all of the wealth in the city the people are suffering.  

We see a huge wall of job notices, and Nada wants to work, showing us that he is an industrious, hard working American, but he is told that there is no work, despite all of the notices.  Back walking the street he sees a preacher talking about how "they" control us all.  "Wake up, they're all around you" he says, as Nada watches on, intrigued by the guy.  Then we see a some cops getting out of their car to confront him, so we already know not to trust the police in this film.

There is an electronics shop with a huge wall of tvs in the window which seems to be hypnotising the people on the street watching.  Again, a big theme for this film is how the media has a huge amount of control over people, and this is an early sign of that.  Nada eventually makes his way to a homeless shanty town in the middle of the city, showing the disconnect of the haves and the have-nots, huge skyscrapers towering over them from a distance.  A helicopter circles overhead, always watching, giving an early sense of paranoia to Nada.

Nada makes his way to a construction site where he asks for, and gets, some work.  This again shows us how hard working he is, there's nothing worse than a lazy protagonist.  It's here where he meets Frank (Keith David), a fellow construction worker who seems like a helpful dude from the off, telling Piper about the homeless village where he can get some food.  In this shanty town we see children playing, a mother reading to her son, people serving food to the grateful hungry.  These acts of humanity and kindness will be a contrast to later in the film when we see a room full of rich people being told how much money they've made off of the subjugation of their fellow humans.  Frank also has a great line in this scene, "remember the golden rule, he who has the gold makes the rules".  Nada tells him "I believe in America, I follow the rules" thinking that that's all you need to do to have a better life, not sell out to alien invaders.  This helps to reinforce his hard-working character.

A group if people in the homeless camp are watching tv when the signal is interrupted by a hacker, who starts talking about the alien conspiracy, but the people watching are more annoyed than anything else, showing how easy it is to ignore the truth, even when it's talking right to you.  The only one who doesn't seem annoyed is the preacher from earlier, who is actually mouthing along with what the hacker is saying, like this is where he gets his sermons from.  Nada notices this and the nearby church.  This is the classic thing of churches being sanctuary from evil.  

The tv broadcasts by the hacker happen again, this time seemingly giving the people watching headaches.  The truth hurts.  Nada sneaks into the church and findsa room full of scientific equipment.  I like the juxtaposition of science happening in church, because you're usually a man of science or a man of religion, the two don't usually overlap in the movies.  Graffiti in the church reads "they live, we sleep", like it was there to inspire the people in the church to keep working, to not sleep.  He finds a secret panel in the wall, with a bunch of boxes behind it.  Nada finds the preacher who asks to touch his face, maybe he can tell who is an alien like this.  This scene ends with another helicopter circling overhead, a constant threat.

Nada tries to talk to Frank, tell him what he found in the church, but Frank doesn't want to hear it.  He has a job, a family, a roof over his head.  He's comfortable, and this new truth will threaten all of that.  That night the helicopter returns to the homeless camp, this time with a gunner.  I love the way the music in this scene pulses with the beat of the blades.  There's a great close-up of Nada's face watching the police roll up in force, real nice subtle expressions telling you everything you need to know.  I also love the use of red flares as a light source in this scene, intimating danger and the unknown as the smoke, tinted red, obscures the oppressive forces.  There are riot cops with shields forcing people to leave as a bulldozer destroys the village, systems of the state keeping the working class and the underclass down.  This scene was a lot more brutal than I remember, I really felt for all of the people being beaten in this scene.  There is a shot of the police brutally beating the preacher, the system keeping the truth suppressed.  The scene ends with a shot of the helicopter hovering overhead, always watching.

The next day we see the destroyed village with people trying to pick out pieces of their lives as a vacuous show about fashion plays on tv, another contrast between the haves and have-nots.  Nada goes to the church and finds it ransacked by the police, searching for the secret boxes, not even sanctuary is safe from them.  Even now there are cop cars slowly prowling around the area like animals.  Nada checks the secret wall and finds the boxes still there. He manages to sneak away with a box, and checks it out in a nearby alley.  It's full of sunglasses, RayBan style, a symbol of 80s excess usually seen on Tom Cruise's face.  Piper gives a great reaction to this discovery, confused and disappointed.  

He eventually puts a pair on, and the results are incredible.  The world turns black and white and secret messages are revealed, "obey, marry and reproduce, sleep".  There is an amazing shot of the city skyline covered in these subliminal messages.  We also see the iconic aliens for the first time, they're bathed in shadows, just like how they operate covertly in society, and the film gets a real grain to it, giving them a dirty and corrupted look.  I like how every bill has "this is your god" written on it, which was very much the case during the Reagan era.  The music, which has been very bluesy up until this point, suddenly turns sinister, it slows down and is filled with eerie metallic sound effects.  

I like Nada's reaction to seeing all of this, he starts laughing, as if he's overwhelmed, or maybe he just finds it really funny.  Maybe he thinks he's going crazy.  I love how he just starts insulting the aliens, "your head looks like it fell in cheese dip back in 1957.  You, (regular human) you're okay.  This one?  Real fucking ugly".  The alien starts talking into her watch, saying "we got one that can see", telling us that they are organised and communicate easily, making them a real threat as they are everywhere, there's nowhere to hide.  In the store, all of the aliens turn at once and start marching towards him, incredible shot.  

Outside, a couple of cops approach Nada.  They are both aliens, so there is no one to trust in this world, not even the keepers of the peace.  I like how the aliens in this film try to make a deal with Nada, try to keep him quiet without killing him.  Much more interesting than if they just went straight to trying to kill him.  He isn't having any of it and clotheslines them, then throws some real nice looking punches.  The benefits of hiring a wrestler as your lead.  He kills the cops, taking their guns.  He goes rogue much earlier than I remember from watching this film before, he only sees a couple of aliens before he starts killing them.  

He walks into a bank, and of course it's full of aliens protecting the money.  We then get one of the most iconic lines in all of film history, delivered with incredibly confident restraint.  "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum".  I love how ridiculous and silly the line is compared to action films of the 80s that take themselves way too seriously, but the way he says it makes it badass.  He then starts killing the aliens with a shotgun, and the black and white photography makes the splatters of blood covering the walls look even more gruesome.  One alien teleports away, showing us that not only are they all in communication with eachother, they can also travel easily and instantly, increasing their threat. 

Nada easily loses the police, which is very unrealistic, but in a film like this I don't mind.  Because of his glasses he is able to see an alien drone in the air, watching him, just like the helicopters from earlier.  He takes a hostage, Holly (Meg Foster) in a carpark, a POV shot of her shows us that she isn't an alien, so we can trust her.  He asks if she's married and he can tell she lied, maybe knowing the truth makes it easier for him to see lies.  

He makes her take him to her flat, which is very grey.  The glasses seem to be giving him a headache, he says "it's like a drug, these glasses get you high".  When he tells her to put them on she tells him "if I don't see what you see, I'm gonna see it anyway", because she's his hostage she's just gonna say anything to keep herself alive, so Piper still isn't sure if he's crazy, or there really are aliens.  He finds out she works at the tv station before she smashes his head in with a bottle, a real brutal looking and sounding hit, and throws him through the window, where he takes a nasty tumble down a hill.  She calls the police to report him, but she has a very monotone, unemotional way of talking, which doesn't suit the situation at all, but makes sense at the end of the film.

We then see Nada walking along the street, like the start of the film, but Nada is a different character with different goals now.  He goes back to the construction site to find Frank, the only person he trusts.  Frank wants nothing to do with him, he thinks Nada is trouble, asking him "how many people did you kill?" to which Nada quickly responds "not people".  Nada lost his glasses at Holly's, so he goes back to the alley where he hid the box, but it has been picked up by a garbage truck.  The truth literally buried under rubbish, not important.  He finds them, just as Frank turns up, he wants to help but refuses to put on the glasses, thinking Nada is crazy, and then we get the fight scene!  

This scene is, to me, incredible.  It's unlike any other fight scene I've ever seen, to this day.  It's really long, over six minutes, and there's no music so you're fully focused on the action.  There are also several moments where it seems like the fight is over, and in other films it would be, but here it just keeps going.  I like how Nada goes for  a low blow, because Roddy Piper was a heel wrestler and that is totally something he would do.  Piper and David also didn't use any stuntmen for this, and apart from the face and nut shots, a lot of the punches were real.  My favourite moment is when they both grab weapons, Nada swings a wooden bat at Frank, misses and smashes through a car window.  They both just stop like, this is going to far man, let's just go back to punching, and Nada bursts out laughing before they start fighting again.  It just looks so fucking good.  It's also a nice representation of how hard it is to make someone see your point of view, Nada literally having to knock the sense into Frank who, at the end of the fight, puts on the glasses and sees the truth.

I love the next shot of them both walking down the street, beaten and bruised.  They look like shit, just physically and emotionally drained.  I also love the line after Frank asks Nada where they came from, "well they ain't from Cleveland".  They then have a conversation where Frank says "maybe they love it, watching us hate eachother", a possible statement about the political and financial elite.  They are recruited to the underground resistance, meeting up in a warehouse.  Again we see the hacker on tv, giving us more exposition.  The Earth is just a resource to the aliens, to be sold off piece by piece to make money, another criticism of Reaganomics.  

Holly shows up at the warehouse to help out, but how did she know where they were?  Not long after, the place is raided, and there is another brutal militaristic attack by the police on civilians, red flares and smoke signifying danger like earlier in the film.  Everyone apart from Nada, Frank and Holly survive, Nada and Frank through an alien portal.  They find themselves in long, grey corridors, which have a very alien feel to them, despite being regular corridors.  They lead to a lavish ballroom which is glittering with gold and luch colours, in juxtaposition to the corridors that lead to it.  

Here we see the aliens are working with the "human power elite" to take control and make money, the speaker telling them how much profit they've made recently.  This is showing us how the powerful will sacrifice their own people, their own humanity, to make a quick buck.  They are then taken on a tour of the facility by a guy who mistakes them for new members of the conspiracy.  Here, I have to disagree with @djw180, I thought this guy was great.  He was obsequious and slimy and over the top, but in the way I like.  

They are shown the space teleportation room, which I don't think we needed to see.  We already know they're aliens, and it didn't add anything to the film.  Then they are shown that the aliens control the tv news station.  Control of the media is one of the first things an invading force needs to do, and in the 80s, of course that meant controlling the television broadcasts.  They are told by the guide that "it's business, that's all it is", something you can imagine any douchebag businessman or politician saying as they sell out their own species.  Nada and Frank have had enough and just start shooting.  I noticed that the army dudes in this scene were using a prop from Ghostbusters!  Nada and Frank fight their way to the roof, and, again, I enjoyed this more than DJ, it's the classic Rambo style thing of the one man army, but there are two men, and I don't mind that if the film is good.

They find Holly in the news station, and make their way to the roof, but near the top Holly shoots Frank, killing him!  The clues were all there, she lied to Nada when the first met, her flat is grey like the alien tunnels, her way of talking, all point to her being in cahoots with the aliens.  On the roof she points her gun at Nada, and there is a beautiful shot of helicopters rising up over the roof of the building behind Nada.  He kills Holly with no remorse on his face, then destroys the alien transmitter, but is cut down by the helicopters.  He goes out like a badass, flipping off the helicopters, happy in the knowledge that he fucked them all.

The end of the film is great, showing us the aliens being exposed to the world now that they can't hide.  They're on tv, on the streets and in bars, and the humans don't look happy about it.  The final scene of the film is hilarious, a woman and man having sex, but when she opens her eyes, he has been exposed as an alien, and as she screams he just asks "hey, what's wrong baby?" and the film ends there, brilliant!  I love that we don't see the fallout of this revelation, instead leaving it to the audience to imagine what happened afterwards.  I'm also glad that there hasn't been a sequel, because there's no way it would be as good.

From 1978 to 1988, John Carpenter had one of the best runs of any director ever.  Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York, The Thing, Christine, Starman, Big Trouble in Little China, Prince of Darkness, and They Live.  I love all of these films, with The Thing being my favourite, but They Live is a close second.

The message isn't subtle, but the direction, the conviction of the characters, and the fact that the film knows what it is and doesn't try to over-reach makes it entertaining from start to finish.  Rowdy Roddy Piper is a great lead, despite never being in a film before he really nailed it.  The direction is also great.  It's not flashy but it serves the film perfectly, and the black and white photography looks great, especially the grainy shots of the aliens.

For me, They Live is a modern classic, and a solid 8/10

 

 

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Con
Posted (edited)

They Live (1988)

Gonna date myself like an artifact but I was 15 years old when this came out and did go to the the theatre to see it. I don't remember a lot just remember going to see it and I was just too young to care about its message on capitalism and mind control or numbing distraction through consumption so I just went to see an alien movie starring a WWF (what it was called back then) wrestler and was let down but it was my 15 year old self judging this film after watching Friday the 13th Part 7, Halloween 4, Nightmare on Elm 4, and Rambo 3 (all were released in 1988 before this)....wow, while most of these films were just cash cows, its reminding me of why my teenage years were so much fun. I wasnt supposed to be watching these films but I had a cool uncle that would take me to all the horror films because I had proved to him I didnt have nightmares....anyways what Im trying to say is They Live had a lot to live up to and it fell short for me at that age....slow forward to today and one of my favorite parts of the film is the message that went over my head when I was 15. Think about those films I mentioned and their visuals and budgets, they simply made They Live seem really cheesy to me so it became a film I didnt put in any of my Fave Lists for a long time. 

Okay lemme talk about the positives...no doubt the story concept is absolutely amazing, Aliens control us subliminally through mass consumption is a great metaphor for what corporations and media do to us on a daily basis. I remember at one point we did everything to avoid commercials, now commercials are everywhere and they SUBLIMINALLY interrupt our lives more than ever, we have just been trained to "Skip Ad" now. The reveal of what is actually going on was the best part of the film for me because imagine being able to see the aliens but they cant see you and just how overwhelming that would be and I felt Nada (Rowdy Roddy Piper) does a great job of conveying that in those scenes. i thought there were a few standout performances, Piper surprised me with his acting but I did feel that the editor really let Piper down A LOT. But I'll touch on that later, remember, these are the positives. I felt Gilbert (Peter Jason) was a standout as the "Church volunteer"...every time he came on the screen I wanted to follow him around, his story is the one that should be told if they ever reboot this film. 

I like the moments in dialogue that touch upon the working man being a pawn and how the rich dangle carrots at us to chase and fight over. We are told we can achieve our dreams but are not told that there are so many doing the same that most of us will just end up with crumbs, at least that is what I got out of those scenes. I really enjoyed the reveal at the end in the Alien & The 1% at what I called the Obey-Con where we find out the two are collaborating to keep the rest of the population under control. Another thing I found genius was the introduction of the contact lenses, i mean for the prop dept and script supervisor it must have been a blessing not to have to worry about keeping track of the glasses. Also dont think I overlooked how the only time we see the aliens in color is once the signal is broken...it was a great touch that didnt go unnoticed by me.

Another of the film's strengths was not knowing who was good or bad, who would betray Nada, so lets give the actors most of the credit for that, take the way Frank delivers those lines when he is warning Nada to mind his business and stop poking around, i couldnt tell what Frank was up to, was he an alien too or just working for them. 

Production design was not terrible for the low budget and I was very impressed with the supermarket scene as all the products had the subliminal labels on every can and box, and it really sold the illusion. The cinematography was very good in setting the mood for what was happening and the wide shots of the city were fantastic as we can imagine the population in the distance mixed in with aliens. And despite whether you agree with Carpenter's political views he expresses through the film, you have to give him credit for hiring real homeless people for the duration of the shoot, ensuring them meals and paychecks. The fight scene was tremendous and expertly choreographed but I do have some not so positive feelings towards it though. Ultimately my favorite scene or moment was the end when the alien signal is broken and the humans can now see the aliens among them and it is just so fucking rewarding...all the implications...I loved that. I thought this helped me ease the ear-bleed from the "Aww schucks" theme that drove me utterly insane. 

I really appreciated the effort of the filmmaker, i felt the concept was strong but there were many flaws. Here are the negatives...

Someone tell me why and who thought that running the fucking "Nada Blues" theme the entire fucking movie would be a good idea??? absolutely wrong. At first it didnt bother me as I understood that it was supposed to be like Nada's "Awww Chucks, im just an average Joe moping around" theme but I could not help but notice halfway through the film that they played the fucking tune in every fucking scene and they feature it when the shots are of just Nada walking around. Honestly, I almost turned the movie off. It takes a lot for me to irritate and I couldnt wait for the end just so I didnt have to hear the fucking tune. I havent read any of the reviews posted before mine so Im hoping I wasnt the only one who thought the shit was overdone. I can never watch this movie again unless they remaster it and remove some of the theme during some of those Nada scenes. I mean, Carpenter is known for his themes, think Halloween (1978) deliciousness, so why would he decide to create just one theme for Nada the entire film  and then overdo it?? He robbed the film of suspense and dread because some of the scenes of Nada poking around could have used different music. Perhaps this is why I really loved the black and white scenes with the aliens because the music changes appropriately and enhances those scenes. I think the reason why the theme bothered me so much also had to do with some of the editing decisions. We get random reactions of Nada that seem like outtakes from a scene break. I felt the editing was amateurish at best. 

I found myself laughing during the fight scene, sure it was amazing, every punch and the wrestling move was fun but I began laughing at about the 2 minute mark and was hysterical when the knees to Nada's balls begin...LMFAO....Frank (Keith David) is literally knee dropping Nada's balls to oblivion and then Nada gets up and fights like his balls are intact after that brutal assault on the poor things. LMAO. Then I pissed my pants when I remembered what they were fighting about to begin with....Frank didnt want to wear the glasses...hahahahaha. They fought for six minutes beating the piss out of one another, when Nada should have just been trying to stay as healthy as possible because he was going to go up against the aliens. Why risk a trip to the hospital? So I hated that the fight lasted so long and for me lacked true purpose, but it was a great belly-laugh. Cant leave without mentioning the famous bubble gum line. Except I have to put it in my negatives because while, Yes---it is an brilliantly epic and timeless, I felt that if there was a moment for Rowdy Roddy Piper to make an appearance in spirit, it was at that very moment and instead, I felt I got Rowdy Roddy-Lite and sure I wouldnt have wanted him to go all wrestling persona but I found the line flat the way it is said. I think I laughed more than I should have had while watching this but I couldnt help it with scenes like the one when Frank befriends Nada and tells Nada about the shanty town and tells him to come along, we then see Nada following at a distance and then is asked by Frank, "why you following me", and i had to laugh because I was like, 'dude you just told him to follow you. lmao.'  And then Nada says something like  "I dont follow unless I know the end", or something convoluted like that. All this amazing dialogue Frank is spitting about the state of his life and then we get that interaction which felt like it was written by a completely different human. Then again, this is the same writer that thought having Nada hiding the box of glasses in the fucking trash in a random alley was a good idea. My IQ is already low and dont need anything lowering it further. Another thing I found absolutely hilarious was when the aliens know about Nada being aware of them and they plaster his wanted poster of his face on TV but ...LMAO... they show a picture of Nada with SHORT HAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LMFAO. These aliens have watch tech that enables them to wormhole but dont have the ability to video record Nada instead of finding his high school picture?? hahahhahaa Why, who thought that was a good idea??? Just take a picture of Piper after he's out of the makeup trailer and use that as the mugshot. Another thing I laughed at when I should have been saying, 'Oh shit' was the police and SWAT using those flares, it was so obvious that they flares were there to light the scenes dramatically but some of the extras were too blatant with their placement and the gimmick was a bit overdone.

 Anyways my intention was to make this short so im going to wrap this up...in summary, I liked They Live for its timeless message of general distractive consumption, the fear of us being easily manipulated into assisting with our own demise, and for its scary but not far fetched ideas, i know someone who believes in the Reptiliians, an alien species that takes the shape of humans and are our world leaders. I disliked They Live for the real poor scenes with terrible editing pacing, character decisions and this film suffers from the same symptom that ruins Terminator Salvation, when both protagonists in each of those films arrives at the "Main Base or Control Center", they are met with so much lack of resistance and it doesnt make sense, take Terminator Salvation, they end up at the fucking Terminator plant at Skynet!!!! and only one Terminator comes after them??!!! he was at Skynet central!!!! and in They Live they enter the "Alien Command Center" with weapons and basically walk and shoot their way to the rooftop...thankfully if you watched it you know the ending, and I liked the fate of our heroes at that point because they had done what they set out to do, expose the alien race amongst us. Despite the annoying bluesy theme song that was so overplayed that I was two seconds away from stopping the film, im giving They Live a ...very consumable 3/5... watch it because a lot of the metaphor applies today about we allowing ourselves to be distracted and conforming while a handful of people pillage the planet for wealth and ultimate dominion of the planet...own the planet and you own everything that inhabits it, or just watch it because at the end of the day it's just a cool alien invasion concept where a dude finds glasses that allow him to see the truth around him.

When the credits rolled all I could say were these two words.....

POOR FRANK.  That man didnt even want to put the glasses on in the first place!!!! He just wanted to get back to Detroit after the construction job was completed. Thanks for nothing, Nada.

:D

 

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Edited by Con
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LimeGreenLegend

Great review @Con, I do disagree about the music though, I love this blues theme, so different from his other works, and I don’t think it’s repeated too often, seems about the same as the theme for Halloween, which is about the only piece of music in that film.

Sane with the fight scene, but I can see how that becomes comedic the longer it goes on.

There’s an episode of South Park that copies the entire thing, but with Jimmy and Timmy fighting :D 

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Con
Posted (edited)
42 minutes ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

Great review @Con, I do disagree about the music though, I love this blues theme, so different from his other works, and I don’t think it’s repeated too often, seems about the same as the theme for Halloween, which is about the only piece of music in that film.

Sane with the fight scene, but I can see how that becomes comedic the longer it goes on.

There’s an episode of South Park that copies the entire thing, but with Jimmy and Timmy fighting :D 

I watched the film with headphones and that blues tune just drove me insane. Nada looking for work, blues tune. Nada making a friend, blues tune. Nada taking a dump, blues tune. I loved the Halloween theme, it was a ring tone of mine for a long time, I just think the blues tune should have had some variety. I found it whiny and used in places where it was better to just let the actors speak. But im glad you were enjoying it :D . It didnt get to me until after he finds the glasses, I thought, okay we are entering a new arc for the character, he is no longer your average Joe, he has learned a huge secret...and it could cost him his life. 

Had the fight scene been about Frank finding the glasses and giving them back to the alien-cops accidentally cause he was trying to be a good samaritan, then the fight would have taken a more serious tone and worth duking it out for 5-6 minutes. Or let Frank smash the last pair like he almost does, this would have made another 3 minutes of fighting worthwhile in my opinion....bam...better pacing and an element of hope is gone and then contact lenses save the day. Instead as i stated in my review, we get our hero who should be staying out of danger or harm, getting into a vicious fight. I dont know, just seemed counterproductive for a man trying to stay alive. 

I saw the SP episode and it was hilarious. Those knee-drops to the balls were epic stuff. Oh and I agree with you about the Drifter (George Buck Flower), i thought he was great, but I didnt make the connection right away that it was him. My only criticism about him would be that he he seemed to be to cleaned up for such a short period of time. "I got tired of eatin outta the garbage." that would have helped me make the connection instantly.

Edited by Con
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Fido_le_muet
Posted (edited)

Fianlly watched it. 

It was... okay I think ? 

I'm happy to have seen it because it's considered a cult classic. Now, I think I'm a bit too young to enjoy this movie like you did @LimeGreenLegend. I'm not saying you're old 😛 but when I was a kid, I was watching movies like Independence Day so this felt very outdated to me. And the fact that it is a B-movie doesn't help as my expectations were already low. 

Anyway, my thoughts. It was entertaining, albeit very ridiculous at times. 

I loved the harmonica music at the beginning with the main character walking towards the LA skyline. cool shots. I was looking for the US Bank Tower but realised it hadn't been built yet :D So that guy wants to work and eventually he does. Good for him. Then he makes a friend. Good for him ! Then he helps at a homeless camp. Good of him ! I really like this nice guy. He's the perfect american. He even tell his new friend that "he trusts America". Sorry but that made me laugh ^^ Lots of lines were cool in this movie. "Well they ain't from Cleveland" coming just after an overly too long fight scene ! That was good. "White line is in the middle of the road. Worst place to drive" :lol: And that bubblegum line when coming into the bank. Seriously, only a B-movie can do that and not care how silly it is ^^

Anyway, our hero seems very gullible at first and almost dumb. He's candid. The cops storm the camp, our hero flees and then he goes to investigate that small church he went to before and finds the glasses. Meanwhile, the TV program is interrupted by a hacker telling them about the invader silently enslaving us and whatever. I liked that at some point they are seen watching War of the World (I think it was WotW) Nice clue about what comes next. 

Hero guy walks in the streets with his glasses and he sees the truth. Aliens living among us and subliminal messages all over the city ! Uh oh. He starts to call alien names in the store and suddenly they realise he can see through their lies and they all rally to stop him ASAP. He flees and is cornered by 2 aliens cops so he kills them immediately, no questions asked, takes their shotgun and then you know it's gonna be downhill from here ^^

He takes a woman hostage, ends up at her place, blah blah blah. She seemed strangely philosophical to me in what must have been a hard time for her. It makes sense at the end. Suddenly she beat the crap out of him and throw him out the window ! Didn't see that coming ! Was cool. 

Hero goes back to his new friend to show him the glasses but friend doesn't want to because he has a family and doesn't want to find out about something that would disturb his perfect little house life. Hmmmm ok. Hero isn't taking this shit. He wants him to put the glasses on ! And then we have our way too long fight. Several times I thought it was over but no ! Hero always came back. I didn't really like the fight scene but I liked that it kept on going. I was wondering how long that would last and if Frank would finally put the glasses on. He does. And sees the truth as well. 

Now besties, they end up in the Resistance warehouse and Holly (the kidnapped girl) is there too. Cool, she's one of the good guys I thought ! But the cops arrive and start blowing everyone up. Hero, Frank  and Holly survive. The two friends escape thanks to an alien device and end up in the underground alien base where rich assholes are selling out to aliens overlord to make more money. 

Hero is not having any of that and after trying to blend in for 2 minutes, he and Frank start shooting their way through the base to destroy the alien antenna and reveal the truth to the world. Unsurprisingly, then do but not before Frank is killed by Holly ! Shocking ! She's in league with the aliens ! Hero guy kills her instantly and blows the communicator before being killed. Mission accomplished. 

The ending though was the highlight of the film. People start to realise that aliens are living among them and that is definitely not cool. But that woman having sex with her boyfriend, realising he's an alien ! That was outstading ! Loved it and loved that it was the final scene of the movie ! Got a good laugh out of it. Brilliant way of ending the film. 

So, most of it was kinda ridiculous but it's a B-movie so I'm OK with it. We're not supposed to take it very seriously. The thing is, I never know if a B-movie is made intentionnaly or if it becomes a B-movie because it's so terrible ? It's a thin line. Previous John Carpenter's movie are pretty good so I don't know if something went wrong or if he wanted to do something different. 

Anyways, I'll give this a good 6/10 because it's a B-movie. That would be a poor 3/10 otherwise. :D 

Edited by Fido_le_muet
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LimeGreenLegend

Nice write up @Fido_le_muet, I totally missed them watching War of the Worlds, nice spot!  John Carpenter has done that a few other times, in Halloween someone is watching the old 50's version of The Thing, which he remade a few years later!

I also like your point about whether a b-movie can be made, or if it's because it's terrible.  To me, a b-movie isn't an inherently bad movie, Bubba Ho-Tep and The Evil Dead movies are all fantastic, it's more about budget and tone.  John Carpenter definitely made a b-movie here because of the over the top tone of the film, and he did it intentionally because it's a lot more over the top than some of his previous films, so it was something he wanted.

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Fido_le_muet
2 minutes ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

Nice write up @Fido_le_muet, I totally missed them watching War of the Worlds, nice spot!  John Carpenter has done that a few other times, in Halloween someone is watching the old 50's version of The Thing, which he remade a few years later!

I also like your point about whether a b-movie can be made, or if it's because it's terrible.  To me, a b-movie isn't an inherently bad movie, Bubba Ho-Tep and The Evil Dead movies are all fantastic, it's more about budget and tone.  John Carpenter definitely made a b-movie here because of the over the top tone of the film, and he did it intentionally because it's a lot more over the top than some of his previous films, so it was something he wanted.

Feels that way to me too. I know all B-movies aren't terrible but I was wondering about some of them, if they didn't become B-movies afterwards because they were bad.


 

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LimeGreenLegend
Just now, Fido_le_muet said:

Feels that way to me too. I know all B-movies aren't terrible but I was wondering about some of them, if they didn't become B-movies afterwards because they were bad.

There is for sure a so-bad-they're-good sub genre for b-movies, maybe most of them are in that category :D

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Con

Yeah @Fido_le_muet that was an entertaining review!!

The one thing I just want to know is how did Holly know about the Resistance's secret location cause honestly she just shows up. I still maintain that the harmonica was way overdone and maybe cause you guys didnt have headphones stuck to your heads like I did and heard every note, every time they played the tune and it has to be more than 70 times. :D 

 

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