More Films to See Before You Die: #99 They Live

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They Live (1988)

Director: John Carpenter

Cast: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster and Peter Jason

Synopsis: An unemployed drifter Nada (Roddy Piper) arrives in Los Angeles and finds a job at a construction site. While working construction he befriends fellow worker Frank (Keith David) who is a conformist and invites Nada to camp in the homeless settlement where he lives. Nada observes that there are odd disruptions on the television from a pirate transmission of a man that belongs to an underground movement and notes a strange moving of people in the church on the other side of the settlement. Nada sneaks around the church and finds a box with pairs of sunglasses. When he wears the glasses, he discovers that the human race is being dominated and subdued by subliminal messages and several persons are aliens indeed. Further, the elites are corroborating with the invaders, receiving financial support in return. Nada forces Frank to wear the sunglasses and together they seek other humans aware of the situation to organize a resistance against the powerful aliens from Andromeda and their associates.

Trivia: The fight between Nada and Frank was only supposed to last 20 seconds, but Piper and David decided to fight it out for real, only faking the hits to the face and groin. They rehearsed the fight for three weeks. Carpenter was so impressed he kept the 5 minute and 20 second scene intact.

Why Should You Watch This?: I am a huge fan of John Carpenter’s and own a number of his films. This particular entry into his canon is especially fun to watch. Roddy Piper gives a really solid performance as the rugged lead character and is convincing enough to make you wonder why the wrestler never had a more successful film career. This film also contains one of the funnier macho man one liners – “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubble gum” which was ad-libbed by Roddy Piper. This is a very fun movie to watch and recommend it to anyone that like movies with an underlying conspiracy theory in their films.