Crazy Childhood: They Live

I'm here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of ass.
July 15, 2010

They Live (1988)

Directed By: John Carpenter

Starring: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster, Raymond St. Jacques, Peter Jason, Sy Richardson, George "Buck" Flower

Roddy Piper's sunglasses can see not only see subliminal messaging, but can also see Joan Rivers without makeup.

Ah, John Carpenter. Though he's not a favorite director of mine, he might be one of them one day considering he directed one of my favorite films of all time Big Trouble In Little China.

It's pretty much like 1995's Congo, except...better. It gives us all the essentials of a great action film and puts it all on a flippin' huge and tasty action sandwich. Action, monsters, exotic locations, romance, humor, Kurt Russell imitating John Wayne, it's pure gold.

I decided to check out some of Carpenter's other work to see if his other films can be as good or even better than BTILC. I decided to try out They Live, which is sorta on the same level as BTILC. It does has action and black comedy, but no exotic locations or romance. It's nowhere NEAR as good as BTILC, but it's a watchable film that talks about subliminal messaging.

"So, Keith...starred in any Disney cartoons lately?"

"My God...there's a sale at Penney's!"


A lone drifter named John Nada (Piper), though he's mentioned by name in the movie, finds a special pair of sunglasses that let him see that alien beings are controlling the minds of the masses by use of subliminal messages. It's up to him and his new friend Frank (David) to destroy the satellite that's disgusting the aliens as regular human beings.

"An 'OBEY' sign? What sign? I don't know what you're talking about!"


I like the plot of this movie, which just goes to show that aliens can invade our world (and most importantly, our minds) with subliminal messaging instead of just lasers and guns.

The best scene involves Piper discovering the special sunglasses and just finding out the truth. When Piper reads a magazine wearing the sunglasses, he just sees MARRY AND REPRODUCE and OBEY over and over again. I just busted out laughing when he sees that a single dollar bill says THIS IS YOUR GOD.

That actually explains a lot.

Keith David (better known as Goliath from Gargoyles) is in good form here. Anything I see him in, he's usually the saving grace, though I wish he wasn't shot in the scene where---OOPS! I said too much. NEXT!

Finally, the best thing about this movie is the infamous line: "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum."
Gold. Pure gold.



I know I'm gonna be hated for this, but I kinda didn't like the fight scene between Piper and David. I didn't realize that that scene in the movie was considered to be the major highlight of the movie, and it's not a horrible scene. It just takes forever! And all that scene was for was just for Piper to let David wear some stinkin' sunglasses! I just sat there stone-faced until about 3 minutes when I just blurted out "PUT ON THE GLASSES, KEITH!" Again, not a horrible scene, just took forever.

"Put on the glasses, dammit! Don't make me have a 10-minute fight scene with you!"

Meg Foster was sorta useless in this movie. She's only in three scenes:

1) She lets Nada hide from the police in her house, then KNOCKS HIM OUT COLD WITH A WINE BOTTLE AND PUSHES HIM OUT THE WINDOW.

2) Meets with him again when he's about to save the world.

3) Gets shot at the end of the movie after we find out she's one of "them".

That's all she's there for. I guess she was in the film because every movie needs a leading lady, I guess.

The alien makeup is just awful. The aliens all look like rotting corpses rather than aliens. I know that this is a low-budget film, but it makes one wonder what most of the budget was used for?...


Looks like he's reading People Magazine.

Gee, I missed the title credits. I wonder what the name of this movie is now. Guess I'll never know.


They Live is not as good as BTILC, but it's still worthwhile. It has plenty of action, good performances, excellent message, and one of the best lines of all time. Worth checking out.



See ya!
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