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and out-of-date synth score by director John Carpenter (along with Alan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
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!