Friday, September 14, 2012

They Live (1988)

Very much in the same vein as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the 1980's hit TV series V, John Carpenter's 1988 Sci-Fi classic, They Live, weaves the familiar yarn of paranoia and uncertainty of those around us heaped with an abundance of social commentary as was a common trait among the films produced by many of the great film makers of the day including Romero, Hooper and Craven. Hot on the heels of Prince of Darkness and Big Trouble in Little China, They Live carries with it the feeling of a cheap, Thurs. night prime time action flick complete with a ribeye, baked potato with the works and a six pack of Bud.

With the lead role in the hands of none other than "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, the 2nd rate action flick feel of They Live is solidified. This, of course, is nothing to run away and bandage your ass over, though. Anyone who finds themselves worshiping at the "big temple in little china" will surely find here a film of kindred spirit, even if it isn't exactly the non stop mine ride through the temple of doom that Big Trouble was.

Keith David, who had previously worked with Carpenter on The Thing co stars and the fight scene between he and Piper (Carpenter obviously exploiting Pipers fame as a wrestler) needs to be seen to be believed. Keith and Piper together are as cool if not cooler than any of the other racially conscious pairs of ebony & ivory soul(less) Brothers from another Mother so dubiously planted throughout the 80's as if to suggest to audiences that indeed, chocolate and vanilla go well together.

They Live isn't quite the monument that Phillip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake is BUT, that doesn't mean that it isn't an extremely enjoyable flick either. Most of the elements that comprise a typical Carpenter film are in place including the homegrown soundtrack and various cast members who have popped up in some shape, form or fashion throughout his many films. The look of the aliens, when seen for what they are, is a wee bit goofy but somehow manages to not really matter much as Carpenters gift of suspenseful storytelling overrides the issue . The action is all there and Piper gives his best as an atypical action hero straight outta the 1980's. A personal favorite and pretty much Carpenters last good film before the inevitable slow decline most film makers seem to encounter sooner or later.

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