Thursday, October 20, 2016

Still Out of Bubblegum, or Thoughts on John Carpenter's They Live

Wrestling star Rowdy Roddy Piper got a pass in any movie he made after They Live (1988), for his portrayal of  “John Nada”, an unnamed drifter who stumbles onto a global conspiracy where all politics and media are controlled by skeletal zombie aliens living among us that you can only see if you wear some bitchin’ 80’s Ray Bans.
There’s a pirate TV station reminiscent of David Lynch’s Videodrome (1983) spreading the truth while sowing the seeds of revolution.  Coincidentally, the signal that hides the alien world from our human eyes is also carried on the TV waves, a theme John Carpenter used before in Halloween III: Season of The Witch (1982).   
Also with Meg Foster, Evil-lyn in Dolph Lundgren’s Masters of the Universe (1987), Sam Peckinpah’s The Osterman Weekend (1983) and currently working for Rob Zombie in The Lords of Salem (2012) and 31 (2016) as Holly Thompson, an initial hostage and then reluctant freedom fighter, and Keith David, Childs from The Thing (1982) as Frank Armitage.  All of the aliens were portrayed by martial arts legend Jeff Imada, fight choreographer for all of John Carpenter’s films and also The Crow (1994), Mortal Kombat (1995), Blade (1998), Fight Club (1999), The Book of Eli (2010) and an impressive IMDb page with over 180 credits that dates back to Blade Runner (1982).
The infamous five minute, 20 second fight scene also remains brutally effective.  It’s a rough, cowboy-style bar room brawl updated for the ‘80s, and it’s just about as painful to watch as it was to film.  Roddy and Keith claim they only pulled punches to the face and the groin, the rest were full impact, and it shows.
One of director John Carpenter’s greatest films, They Live has unfortunately become even more relevant in this divisive election year.  Eerily prescient, the movie predicts the 21st Century collapse of the middle class, the seemingly indiscriminate police brutality and the overwhelming media saturation, even without the convenience of smartphones.   We need those Ray Bans now more than ever, but i bet I'd be too scared to put them on.



my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).