Friday, April 20, 2012

They Live (1988)

Carpenter. Piper. Roddy Pipper that is. Yeah, that’s the combo for this movie, and it sounds pretty darn promising. Add one of the greatest phrases ever uttered by a bad ass in any film and you’ve got a sure-fire winner, right? Well, just like the people in this movie – everything is not as it appears.

Nada (Roddy Piper) is a homeless man who is trying to survive during the tough economic times of the ‘80s. But things get even worse when Nada discovers a pair of glasses that allow him to see the truth. All around him are skinless smirking monsters disguised as humans. They control the advertising, the television and the music. They are slowly taking over the earth and only a small band of humans can stop them. Can Nada unite other forgotten people together to fight this seemingly unstoppable force of insidious evil?

Good Points:
  • Roddy Piper’s performance is worth catching
  • The fight scene in this movie is just as long as you heard it was
  • Some very interesting social commentary at the heart of the film

Bad Points:
  • Takes its sweet time getting anywhere
  • Never really scary or intense
  • The ending lacks the punch the rest of the movie goes for

I really wanted to like this movie. Carpenter obviously had a lot to say about the state of the world in 1988, but all that delving into social commentary ends up dragging the whole movie down. Instead of keeping this crisp and fast paced, the movie slogs from scene to scene, but without building any tension. There are some classic moments in this movie (including the famous “I’m here to chew bubblegum and kick ass” quote). But they never add up to anything much more than an average flick.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 4
Sound: 3
Acting: 4
Script: 3
Music: 3
Direction: 2
Entertainment: 2
Total:  3

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.

Note: Roddy Piper has a ton of charisma in this movie and should have been in more stuff. Check out Obscurus Lupa’s review of a little gem called Hell Comes to Frogtown to see more of Roddy's work.


  1. Watchable-but-nothing-special was my response, too. I've often wondered if this movie inspired best selling author David Icke to develop his theory about alien lizards running the world:

  2. Wow, that sounds like the old television miniseries "V". The other thing this movie inspired is "South Park". In a particular episode two of the handicapped characters get into a full on knock down fight. It lasts just as long as the one featured in "They Live" and even has complete sequences exactly the same. But this being "South Park" they called the episode "Cripple Fight!". I love that show.