According to recent news reports John Carpenter's 1988 cult film They Live is going to be remade by Universal and Strike Entertainment . . .

The original movie featured a down-on-his-luck drifter (ex-wrestler Roddy Piper!) “who discovers glasses that let him see aliens walking among us and controlling humanity.” The alien invasion is over and our elite are in fact aliens (which would explain a lot come to think of it) who lull humanity into a false sense of security with subliminal messages to “consume” and “marry and reproduce”.

“Probably one of the most subversive films to have come out of Hollywood in decades,” we wrote in our original review, They Live is an almost Marxist critique on the social impact of Reaganism. Witness for instance the extended scenes in the film in which riot police forcibly evict homeless people.

However, They Live isn’t a good movie by any reasonable definition.

After all, we’re talking here about a low-budget late-1980s movie starring Roddy Piper, a former wrestler turned actor, replete with flannel shirt and mullet. Then there’s the simplistic and out-of-date synth score by director John Carpenter (along with Alan Howarth) which is sure to grate on the nerves. The movie’s a bit on the slow side at spots, even though it runs a brisk 90 minutes or so.

However one can’t help but like the movie for its attitude. Its heart is so in the right place that it is simply impossible to dislike.

They Live is famous (if you can call it that) today for the oft-stolen line, “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass . . . and I'm all out of bubblegum,” a line apparently ad libbed by Piper.

There are other great lines too:

“The Golden Rule: He who has the gold, makes the rules.”

Frank: “I've walked a white line my entire life, I'm not about to screw that up.”
Nada: “White line's in the middle of the road, that's the worst place to drive.”

Then there’s what is probably the longest fist fight in the history of movies. A full whopping five minutes and 20 seconds of Piper and Keith David duking it out as the Foley artists go into maximum overdrive mimicking the loudest body blows you’ve heard in a movie since the last ‘Seventies chop-socky flick you saw. (The fight was only supposed to last 20 seconds, but Piper and David decided to fight it out for real, only faking the hits to the face and groin. They rehearsed the fight for three weeks. Carpenter was so impressed he kept the entire scene intact.) Finally there’s actress Meg Foster whose eyes are so blue that it hurts simply looking at them.

Despite its very faults this is one movie that shouldn’t be remade. After all, one can just imagine how much the film’s original message will be toned down. Besides, They Live is fantastic B-movie fun!



blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).