John Carpenter’s They Live

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They-Live-1988-Movie-PosterThis film is a classic and will always stand the test of time. Heck when watching it today you can see parallels to the current economic situation in America. The film was made at a time when unemployment was high and the rich kept getting richer, seemingly at the expense of the poor. Some of the visuals you see in the film will make you laugh as you see it happening around you right now. It makes you wonder if Carpenter was a profit of what is to come with the way that this film unfolds. For anyone that likes the films from John Carpenter, they are going to love and cherish this one where everything is not what it seems.

Nada (Roddy Piper) is an out of work construction worker that has drifted into Los Angeles to try and find work. He has a positive attitude and is able to quickly find some work at a local construction site. It quickly becomes evident that he is only being tolerated and could be replaced on a whim. Soon as the work day is over he is told that there is no sleeping on the work site and that he better get out of there and find some other place to sleep. Not knowing what to do he follows Frank (Keith David), another worker at the construction site. Frank is not too please with Nada following him but takes him to a shanty town that is being overseen by a local mission church. It has running water, lots of space and they provide some food for those that are there each day. It is a refuge for those that have nowhere else to go.

There is more to the shelter then meets the eye and Nada stumbles on it when he sees the mission director pushing a blind black Street Preacher (Raymond St. Jacques) into the building. The next day he decides to find out what is going on and sneaks into the building to find that it is nothing more then a shell with no congregation at all. It is all for show. Inside he finds a lab and a rows of sunglasses. He has no idea what is going on but just leaves it be. That night the police come in and do a destructive sweep of the shanty town, shooting anyone that resists them with no care to the safety of the residence. They also start rounding up the members of and raiding the mission. It seems that someone that had been staying at the refuge tipped higher ups what was really going on. The mission and its members had been breaking into the broadcast signal to transmit their own programing. Programing that could wake people up to the reality that was going on around them.

This world is not our own but actually being controlled by some alien race that wants to strip this world of its resources. The easiest way for them to do it is to make everyone think that they are like the rest of us. They do this by transmitting signals from the tops of traffic lights and through the airways with subliminal messages embedded into the programing. They use it to keep people sedate and doing what they want so that people do not realize how they are actually being controlled by the media and politicians. The group from the mission lead by Gilbert (Peter Jason) found a way to see through the wool the aliens were pulling over the eyes of humanity. They did this by applying filters to sunglasses that would show everything in black and white as well as show exactly what the aliens were telling us to do through subliminal messaging. Nada finds some of these glasses after the raid.

Now the aliens had to have actual help from people in the know and what better way to do this then with the will bought for help of the media. One person they use to get the message across is that of Holly (Meg Foster), a pretty young sexy reporter from the Cable 54 station. Nada has a few run ins with her and doesn’t find out her true involvement until near the end of the film. It is up to Nada and Frank to find a way to expose what is going on and to wake up America to the truth that our lives are not our own and that the government and corporate aliens are trying to control and use us.

This film is fun and yet highly political. John Carpenter takes a satirical look at the time and spins it into wacky science fiction that will have you going, hmmm, as you watch the film. This is going to be a classic and cult favorite for years to come.

I give this film a Musing review of ★★★★☆☆