Saturday, October 29, 2011

Week of Reel Whorror!: The Invasion Will Not Be Televised - Day 5

Wow, it's already the fifth day of Reel Whore's Week of Reel Whorror! Next up in The Invasion Will Not Be Televised series I have another John Carpenter classic from the '80s, which is an adaptation of Ray Nelson's short story Eight O'Clock in the Morning.

They Live

Release: 11.04.88
Rated R
1 hour, 33 minutes

Full Price

One thing is for certain; John Carpenter loves adapting stories about aliens. It can also be said that he loves to work with Kurt Russell, except that the hero in They Live is wrestler Roddy Piper (Hell Comes to Frogtown). Piper plays a drifter who arrives in Los Angeles looking for work. You see, times are hard, the economy is in the toilet and people are fed up with the wealthy elite running the country into the ground. Times haven't changed that much, huh? However, in They Live, aliens disguised as humans are at the root of the financial imbalance. They reward humans who aid them in their exploitation of Earth's people and resources. And they would have continued to rape the planet for decades had the lowly drifter not found those spanky sunglasses. 

As silly as it sounds, a small resistance force develops sunglasses and contact lenses that allow humans to see the aliens and their subliminal, consumerist messages. The drifter gets his hands on a pair, and like any red-blooded American confronted with a malicious alien menace, grabs the first gun he can find and starts wrecking shit. 

For this self-nominated savior, there are few better choices than Piper. He stomps around kicking ass and spouting some great one-liners. If you've ever heard the quote, "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubble gum," you can thank Piper for delivering one helluva ad-lib. He's not the most adept at the softer scenes he shares with the striking-eyed Meg Foster (Blind Fury), but '80s audiences liked their heroes hard so that's not too important.

They Live also features one of my favorite knock-down, drag-out beatings. The drifter basically tries to convince his new-found friend Frank (Keith David, The Thing) of the alien menace by stomping a mud hole in his ass in the middle of a dirty alley. Piper puts his wrestling training to good use as David isn't one to go down easy. After several grueling minutes, Frank joins the cause and they go off to kick ass and chew bubblegum together. 

Dirty Undies
The drifter and Frank rack up a healthy alien body count as they run roughshod through LA. There isn't a lot of blood or gore, but it's action for action's sake, which keeps the pace moving. If you're patient, Carpenter slips in a sexual situation at the very end; it does have its purpose, and the nudity is a bonus.  

The Money Shot
They Live is still an awesome flick twenty-three years later and its social commentary is, unfortunately, still relevant. Carpenter sets up the story, gets to the meat of the matter and doesn't dawdle after the resolution. If you're tired of seeing Michael Myers loiter on the streets of Haddonfield, watch Rowdy Roddy mop up in LA.

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