Favorite John Carpenter Films: “They Live” (1988)

I thought, I’d put this film down cause Halloween is such a tired choice, yes its a great film and yes it holds up well, but I always gravitated more toward this film as one of my favorite films by John Carpenter. Before I continue I would like to point out I’m not a huge fan of John Carpenter, he is a fine director, but aside from a couple of films I’ve like his writing work a bit more. The Thing for instance is overhyped, it has great special effects and the whodoneit element keeps you interested, but its not the best, its watchable.

Now onto my review for They Live…This is a great flick, it can’t be categorized as simply a thriller or even horror(its not really classified as that either)but as an Action/Thriller Sci-Fi film. During the time that I saw this I was a huge fan of Rowdy Roddy Piper and was hyped up to see him “Chew bubblegum and kick ass” you can tell that John Carpenter felt the same way as this film includes one of the longest fight sequences ever, I believe it goes on for more than 5 minutes.

Rowdy Piper stars as a drifter, who ends up in a city as a construction worker, where a group of people outside a church spend their time trying to avoid the local authorities, who seem to be a bit aggressive when it comes to hassling the citizens. Roddy does a terrific job in the role, he plays the role as a silent type, occasionally speaking when the time calls for it, he is very observant, which is what causes him to get in the middle. When your a wrestler you must act a certain way as written for your character, in this film his acting is expanded upon as he is known for being well Rowdy, like a maniac, here he has to fall back on that.

Keith David enters into the film as a nice guy construction worker, who befriends Piper and is also caught up in this mess. Keith David is a terrific actor and one of the few cool aspects of The Thing, here is is equally as terrific, playing the guy who tries to avoid being involved but of course can’t help but be involved when he is forced. The fight scene I mentioned above consist of him and Piper and its one of the best you’ll see, but you wouldn’t believe was started it and what keeps it going. You have to watch to find out and if you really want a good version wait for the Scream Factory release of a special edition later this year.

Meg Foster plays a member of the source of the films main story, she plays it very somber, never letting on what it is she is really up too, you spend the film wondering whether she is a friend or foe. I love the effects in this film, they are very unique as its simply adding makeup and making things black and white, but it feels so much more. The story is incredible, its very simple, a drifter walks into a town where things aren;t what they appeared, when he discovers that aliens have ued subliminal messages in just about everything there is a war started to stop the source and expose it.

I highly recommend this film, if you can get it cheap go for it, but I am waiting on the Special Edition(I still have my VHS Copy in great condition). Other Carpenter films to check out is Vampires, Escape from New York, Escape From L.A AND Memoirs of the Invisible Man.

–Eric Curto