I have 471 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it.
What’s the movie? They Live (1988)
What’s it rated? Rated R for manly men manning about, sounding like Alex Jones and the greatest fist fight since your mom and dad.
Did people make it? Written by Frank Armitage (John Carpenter) Directed by John Carpenter. Acted by “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster, George “Buck” Flower, Peter Jason and Raymond St. Jacques.
What’s it like in one sentence? Homeless construction workers Vs. the slavery of all mankind.
Why did you watch it? I was supposed to watch Little Otik this week but the sound didn’t match the picture by about 10 or 15 seconds. There’s no comments about it in the customer review section, so I thought I might be going insane. If you try and watch Little Otik, please let me know if you had the same problem as I did so I can stop doubting my sanity. Anyway, the movie I was going to watch didn’t work, so I picked something I hadn’t seen in 15 years. I don’t feel guilty about it.
What’s it about in one paragraph? “Rowdy” Roddy Piper is an itinerant construction worker who rolls into Los Angeles with nothing but a sleeping bag and some tools. He gets a job on a construction site and befriends the equally itinerant Keith David and they start hanging out at a nearby hobo camp. When Roddy start seeing a man on the television calling for humanity to wake from it’s slavery and mysterious people coming in and out of a neighboring church, he starts to realize there may be some weird shit going down. After finding a box of sunglasses in the church, hidden as if they were the most important things in the universe, The Rowdster tries them on and sees the world for what it is: completely taken over by aliens who are broadcasting and hiding subliminal messages everywhere. Now that Rodwell has woken up, can he save us all from enslavement or will he fall prey to the aliens diabolical plan?
Play or remove from my queue? You’ve seen this already, but play it again if it’s been awhile. I hadn’t seen this since I was around 15 or so and just recently watched The Fog for the first time and really loved it, so I decided to go on a John Carpenter bender. Starting with The Fog and then rocking They Live, Starman, Assault on Precinct 13, Village of the Damned and Escape From New York. For some reason, Prince of Darkness is still my favorite (yes, even over Halloween and The Thing) and my least favorite is still Ghosts of Mars. In a lot of ways, They Live seems like the second most focused and personal of his career (behind The Thing) due to the bone deep Reagan hatred he was filled with in 1988. The film still works wonderfully as a satire of the generation of greed that reared it’s ugly head in those days and is chock full of ideas that are still being expanded on today on creepy shows like Coast to Coast or Prison Planet.
The biggest thing I had forgotten about when re-watching this is that when The Rowdster puts on the glasses and realizes that half the people he thought were humans were actually aliens, and that all of the billboards actually are telling him to “Obey” or “Stay Asleep”, instead of freaking out, he just laughs and says “figures it be something like this.” And when the aliens notice that he can see them, instead of attacking him or trying to kill him, they try and have a discussion with him. Since Roddy don’t play that he kicks a few of their asses and then goes on a killing spree, brutally murdering them with no words necessary. It’s bloodthirsty and brilliant how he just decides they all need to die no matter what and then goes about systematically destroying every alien he sees. If this film was remade now, he would go around asking questions for an hour before being pushed to killing them in order to avenge the death of his adopted Philipino baby or something.
The fight scene between Rodness and Keith David is pretty poorly staged in a few brief moments, but it’s still one of the greatest fights in film history, especially once Rowd starts throwing down wrestling moves with his punches. It’s goofy and cheeseball and utterly ridiculous, but it’s also sublime and a little transcendent. I think Carpenter was trying to make a point here about the lengths people will go to to stay in their comfort zone and not have to think about the deep, dark secrets of the world. Or maybe how the people who think that they know what all the secrets of the world are also think that everyone who isn’t as panicked and freaked out about the direction the world is headed in are ignorant sheeple waiting to be lined up against the wall. Or maybe it was just to get Hot Rod and Keith David to fight for 6 minutes. Either way.
It’s a fun movie and moves at a brisk as all hell pace and refuses to even take a minute and answer some of the weird questions it raises. Like why do the aliens recruit people that might not be of any use to them like the bum from the LA Noire shantytown? What did he bring to the party? Why not just kill him? Also, that bum is the one who explains to Rodnificent what the aliens’ ultimate goal is without really backing it up with any evidence. Is he accurate? Is Earth just a third world country to them? Will these questions in any way determine your enjoyment of the film? Not even a little bit.
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? RodPipe improvised the line “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass and I’m all out of bubblegum.” That makes perfect sense since it seems like much more of a pro-wrestler line than something Carpenter would have written. Almost every line Pipes says seems like he’s trying out a new catchphrase and it fucking works.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? TerrorVision (Gerrit Graham and Mary Woronov? Yes, please), Phantasm 2 (it’s almost 2 good 2 be true! See what I did there?), Lifeforce (still haven’t seen. Worth watching?), The Return of the Living Dead (my personal favorite zombie movie of all time. Spider for President!) and The Thing (if you haven’t seen this then why are you on Chud?).
What does Jared say I’d like if I like this? Sex. Face punching. Bob Roberts.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 3.8
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 4.2
Can you link to the movie? I sure can!
Any last thoughts? Nope. I’m off to Zumba class. Fuck your judgement.
Did you watch anything else this week? Conan. It’s not great but it’s not cinematic aborted fetuses, either.
Next Week? Lifeforce? TerrorVision? Funland? The Funhouse? Help!!