Sunday, 12 July 2015

They Live (1988)

An itinerant worker discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see society's corruption, greed and selfishness that is thinly covered by the superficial glossy veneer of 1980's consumerism.

Roddy Piper plays Nada, a nobody, an Everyman who thinks that if he works hard and does the best he can then everything will work out okay. Once upon a time this would have been true but the "greed is good" ethic of Reagan and Thatcher put paid to this and we've been struggling to pull ourselves out of the sewer ever since. You only need to look at that modern microcosm of society, the supermarket. Shopping trolleys/carts are not put back as "it's someone else's job", kids run riot, people shove past you without an "excuse me", there is no consideration for our fellow human beings, and without simple consideration and courtesy everything else starts to rot.

Excluding the final raid sequence, the film itself is well shot in widescreen. The soundtrack is a really nice slow blues riff that echoes throughout the film. Roddy Piper and Keith David are likeable heroes, Meg Foster still unnerves me with her spooky eyes, and then there's the fight scene between Piper and David. It's like a little film within a film, with it's own structure,rhythm, plot. It's just one of the finest fights ever filmed. The visual effects are excellent with chrome-eyed, skull-like alien faces, but my personal favourites are the black on white subliminal messages - they look so sharp and authoritative and terrify way more than any number of uber-rich, alien scumbags.

If there is a fault with They Live, I'd say it's with the final sequence. It's almost as if Carpenter needed to fill 10 minutes but ran out of steam. The same shot of a rifle barrel is used over and over again and it's just too damn long.

They Live is as relevant today as it was back in the eighties and next time you're out shopping please put your trolley away correctly!

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