03 August 2015

"John Carpenter's THEY LIVE" - R.I.P RODDY PIPER


Alternate Title:
John Carpenter's They Live

German Title:
Sie leben

USA, 1988
Director: John Carpenter


"They Live" was the second and final film that John Carpenter shot for short-lived independent production company "Alive Films" (the first one was "Prince of Darkness") after his box office disaster "Big Trouble in Little China" basically forced him to go back to low-budget filmmaking. Based on Ray Nelson's alien-invasion-themed short story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning", Carpenter created a fantastic and completely unique blend of science-fiction, horror and action-comedy, following drifter/construction worker Nada who realizes that the entire world is dominated by aliens when he finds a pair of sunglasses that allows him to see how the world really looks like: black-and-white with subliminal messages like "OBEY", "WATCH TELEVISION" or "MARRY AND REPRODUCE" everywhere...

The movie wasn't exactly a hit back then, but over the years, it developed a massive cult following and ultimately became one of the most popular John Carpenter films. The reason for this is pretty simple: it's a timeless films that deals with topics that are now more relevant than ever, like Capitalism, Surveillance, the growing gap between Rich and Poor, Conformity and general Paranoia of external forces. Carpenter gave a flying fuck about conventions and created a bizarre but utterly fascinating lower-budget movie (made on only about $3 million) that only works because of Carpenter's talent to properly accomodate and combine all kinds of genres and movie tropes without creating a mess. Other directors would have failed to turn Carpenter's partly dark, partly super-hilarious screenplay (written under the pseudonym Frank Armitage - Lovecraft anyone?) into a proper movie.

In terms of tone and atmosphere, "They Live" strongly reminded me of Carpenter films like "Escape from L.A" and "Prince of Darkness", mixed up with the humor of "Big Trouble in Little China" and the paranoia-mood of classic 1950s alien-invasion films - and I swear, there's also definitely some "Dawn of the Dead" in here too. After the first half hour which works out more like a mystery thriller, all hell breaks loose: 10 minutes of sunglasses-insanity, followed by 10 minutes of kidnapping-drama followed by the greatest fist-fight scene in movie history, followed by the last half hour which delivers lots of shoot-outs, explosions, secret passageways, space travel ports and bug-eyed, skull-headed aliens humping big-breasted blonde girls. You just have to love it!

Legendary wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper gives a very solid performance and is allowed to shoot outrageously funny one-liners like "You look like your head fell in the cheese dip back in 1957." or the infamous "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum.". Keith David ("The Thing") is similarly great as Nada's super-cool semi-sidekick, as are the strangely sexy Meg Foster ("Masters of the Universe"), the fun-as-always George "Buck" Flower ("The Fog") or Raymond St. Jacques ("The Evil That Men Do") as eerie blind street preacher. The two-note bass-driven music by Carpenter and regular collaborator Alan Howarth is simply beautiful, camera work and cinematography are surprisingly rather calm (regular Carpenter collaborator Gary B. Kibbe), yet as gorgeous as in all of Carpenter's films, and the editing is simply top notch (Gib Jaffe & Frank E. Jimenez, "First Blood II").

In addition, I laughed my ass of at the scene where we get to see an Alien-version of Gene Siskel saying: "All the sex and violence on the screen has gone too far from me. I'm fed up with it. Film makers like George Romero or John Carpenter have to show some restraint..." Proves that Carpenter has a wonderful sense of humor :-D

A must-see for John Carpenter aficionados and fans of good ol' 80s cheese. Also, fans of Stephen King's short story "The Ten O'Clock People" should see this too. I'm not sure if King ripped it off, but it's damn similar to "They Live".

Wiki ~ Imdb

Legendary wrestler and actor Roderick George Toombs, better known as "Rowdy" Roddy Piper or "Hot Rod!" passed away in his sleep after a heart attack at the age of 61.

Roddy has always been one of my favorite wrestling stars, thanks to his powerful charisma, his simple but cool outfits and his fabulous bagpipe entrance music. Between 1984 and 1996, he was one of the biggest WWF stars and delivered many, many terrific matches in the Golden Age of WWF, as well as in the New Generation Era (the 1992 Royal Rumble match between him and The Mountie... fan-fucking-tastic!). He also worked for other Wrestling promotions like WCW (1996-2000) TWA (2003-2005) or PWG (2011), and made several comebacks to the WWE (formerly WWF) in 2003 and between 2005-2015.

Outside of Wrestling, he was a part-time actor, best know for his fun performances in John Carpenter's "They Live" (see above) and Donald G. Jackson's "Hell Comes to Frogtown" (1988). Other movies and series he acted in: "The Love Boat" (1990), "Back in Action" (1993), "Highlander" (1993), "RoboCop" (1994), "Immortal Combat" (1994), "Tough and Deadly" (1995), "Terminal Rush" (1996), "Walker, Texas Ranger" (1998), "The Outer Limits" (1999), "Ghosts of Goldfield" (2007), "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" (2009+2013), "Cold Case" (2010) and "Green Lantern: Emerald Knights" (2011, voice).

Rest in Peace, Roddy :-(
1954 - 2015


  1. "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum." Ha!

    Rest in peace Roddy Piper.

    1. One of the absolute coolest one-liners ever!

  2. I've watched a lot of his movies - and of course saw some wrestling stuff back in the 80's too. He was a fun over the top presence. RIP.

    And I loved They Live when I saw it on opening day in the theater.

    1. A terrific wrestler, a decent actor, a wonderful person. He will be missed!


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