Eric S Brown
In 1988, John Carpenter’s They Live debuted at # 1at the box office. The film has earned more than three times its budget over the years but more than that, They Live, is perhaps one of the most infamous cult movies. The story of They Live is a simple one. An unemployed drifter named Nada in search of work stumbles upon the existence of a hidden alien race who are taking over the Earth by buying off its rich and elite class while using subliminial messages to control the rest of the population. Nada is swept up into the conflict between these aliens and a small group of resistance fighters attempting to save the human race.
They Live is a quirky but powerful commentary on the culture and politics of its time. It’s also one heck of a fun movie. Roddy Piper, the wrestler turned actor, delivers a unique performance in the role of Nada, the film’s hero. His acting is both spot on and laughable almost at the same time and utterly over the top. Keith David, who also acted in John Carpenter’s The Thing, serves a grounding foil for Piper and the two blend very well together. They have an epic fist fight in the movie worthy of any wrestling ring. Meg Foster, who had just finished portraying Evil-Lyn in the movie adaptation of Masters of the Universe the previous year, only adds to the up and down acting quality of the filim.
Whether or not you agree with the intended message of Carpenter’s film or for that matter even think about it, They Live is a wild rollercoaster ride, that sometimes even goes off its own tracks, is well worth watching. Perhaps the experience of They Live can be summed up in one of its most famous lines- “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I am all of bubblegum.”