Saturday, September 17, 2016

Rewatch: They Live

1988, John Carpenter (Vampires) -- Netflix

We are not on a John Carpenter binge but in June we re-watched The Thing. And not long after we re-watched this.  THIS is one of those post-high school movies for me, when catch lines were still a thing. "I am here to chew bubble gum and kick ass; and I am all out of bubble gum," Rowdy Roddy Piper says as he walks into a bank with a loaded shotgun, knowing full well the bank will be full of the aliens that have quietly invaded earth. Roddy is not a good actor, but he really falls into the role. Seriously, he is not an actor at all, but he genuinely does a decent job of playing an out of work guy just looking for honest pay when he stumbles across an alien invasion conspiracy -- one that has been on the go for quite a while.

I remember loving this movie when I first saw it, thinking it was a cut above what else was out there. But really, no it is just a classic John Carpenter flick -- not very good but done with a lot of oomph. And it is quite the man's man movie. It dedicates an inordinate amount of time to a fight scene between Roddy and Keith David. I know I know, the guy was a wrestler and his fans are in the audience, but these guys keep on going at it again and again. And in the end they are friends, because that is how manly men make friends? Dunno; was never one of the club.

The movie is set in a divisive period, that could be the late 80s, but could be now. The wealthy are wealthy and employed; the poor are poor and living in shanty towns. Do shanty town still exist? Tent towns? Or have we knocked them all down and forced the indigent into shelters and group homes... and prison? Its not likely we have reduced the number of homeless. So, the movie bases itself out of a small one on some edge of LA. But really, it exists only to be knocked down once the aliens realize residents are involved in the resistance.

I love the whole core of the alien invasion, so Twilight Zone or Outer Limits influenced. When Rowdy puts on the sunglasses, the Arnie inspired glasses, he sees the current world as it really is -- a massive black & white pastiche of subliminal messages and drab 50s style. The aliens have come with their skeletal, bug eyed look and adapted entirely to the 1% lifestyle on Earth. Quietly they live the privileged life while most Earthlings barely scrape by. And broadcast world-wide is a signal that makes us susceptible to the messages everywhere -- on billboards, on TV, in every magazine, on every poster, etc. Obey, marry and reproduce, conform, submit, consume, etc. All those familiar messages that even now the freaky left accuses the Authority of actually transmitting into our brain. But this movie was pre-Internet, so can you imagine how this would have been done in the age of Facebook, blogs, smart phones and the Kardashians ?  Scares the hell out of me.

I wonder how Carpenter will feel that this movie will be relegated to re-run theatres and late night movie stations.  movie that is so inspired by old 50s movie and serial TV shows, is now the old, retro horror movie. It is the B Schlock flick that will be looked upon with amusement by the kids of today, sort of like we looked at the Atomic Age movies.

Fuck it, I am using the fan art posters from Dr. Monster. I actually stole it from someone else's blog post about alternate Carpenter posters.