Monday, June 6, 2011

Dollar Bin Horror Spotlight:They Live (1988)

By Eric Polk-
This summer, director John Carpenter returns from a ten-year sabbatical to bring us The Ward. In honor of his comeback, and to give mad props to the greatest wrestler-turned-actor, I bring you a review of one my favorite films of all-time.

It's the 1980's(no, no 80's flashback today kids). It's the decade of excess, greed, and Reganomics. A drifter(the legendary Rowdy Roddy Piper) "Nada" searches for work in a major American city. He finds a construction job and one of the workers, Frank Armitage (Keith David), takes him to a local shantytown. After eating at the soup kitchen and spending the night, he notices odd behavior at the small church across the street. Investigating, he discovers that the church's soup kitchen is a front: inside, the loud "choir practice" is a recording, scientific apparatus fills a back room, and cardboard boxes are stacked everywhere, including some in a secret compartment that he stumbles across.

That night, the police surround the church, forcing the inhabitants to flee. The police then turn on the shantytown, destroying it with bulldozers and beating the blind minister of the church to death. Nada returns to the site the next day and investigates the church again, which has been emptied. He takes one of the boxes from the secret compartment and opens it in an alleyway, finding it full of sunglasses.

Additionally, he soon discovers that many people are actually aliens, who are human-looking except for skull-like faces. The aliens tend to be wealthy upper class members of society, as well as politicians. Around him, media is covered in subliminal messages. Billboards tell people to sleep, money is their God, consume, etc.

So many things are right about this movie. Who can't forget the big fight scene between Piper and David. "I'm here to kick ass and chew bubblegum...and I'm all out of bubblegum!" Ok, the message of They Live is a little ham-handed, but who cares. It's a brilliant film directed by a brilliant man and starring a brilliant wrestler.