They Live (1988) Classic Film Review

Director: John Carpenter

Writers: Ray Nelson(short story), John Carpenter(screenplay)

Stars: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster

RATING: 4 Stars

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Nada, a down-on-his-luck construction worker, discovers a pair of special sunglasses. Wearing them, he is able to see the world as it really is: people being bombarded by media and government with messages like “Stay Asleep”, “No Imagination”, “Submit to Authority”. Even scarier is that he is able to see that some usually normal-looking people are in fact ugly aliens in charge of the massive campaign to keep humans subdued. – From IMDB

When I posted on Twitter earlier this week that I was watching this for the first time, someone told me that not only was it a superb film, but that, despite it being made in the eighties, it would still resonate in todays world. And man were they right on both counts. This was an absolutely excellent film. It’s start off kind of slow and unassuming, but when shit hits the fan, it gets weird and wacky very, very quickly. And yes, despite being made in the 80s, there is a Lot of social commentary in this film that is still painfully relevant today, 40 years later!

It’s the 80s so we can maybe forgive the terribly over the top acting by most of the cast involved. I have definitely seen both Roddy Piper and Keith David give better performances, but I don’t hold it against them. In fact I think it adds to the films overall campiness and my overall enjoyment. And sure the writing is very very cheesy, but it did give us one of cinemas most recognisable quotes ” I came here to kick ass and chew Bubble-gum. And I’m all Out of Bubble-gum.” so…say what you want about cheesy, but it stays with you.

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When it was released this film had an 18 rating here in the UK, and for the life of me I cannot figure out why. I saw far worse things in the two 15 rated films I watched this week than anything in here. The 18 rating seems a little over the top. Especially with the 40 year old special effects making the aliens look silly and tame compared to what we see on screen these days. But considering the time it was made, those special/practical effects really aren’t too bad.

Overall this was an incredibly enjoyable watch. Definitely one I will be returning to again and again.

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