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Rowdy Roddy Piper -- RIP -- They Live is a documentary!!

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They Live is a 1988 American science fiction horror film written and directed by John Carpenter. The film stars Roddy Piper, Keith David and Meg Foster. It follows a nameless drifter (called "John Nada" in the credits), who discovers the ruling class are in fact aliens concealing their appearance and manipulating people to spend money, breed, and accept the status quo with subliminal messages in mass media.

An unemployed drifter named John Nada (Roddy Piper) finds construction work in Los Angeles, and befriends fellow construction worker Frank Armitage (Keith David), who leads him to a local shantytown soup kitchen. There, Nada notices strange activity around the church: a blind preacher (Raymond St. Jacques) loudly chastising others to wake up, a police helicopter scouts them overhead, and a drifter (George Buck Flower) complains that his TV signal is continually interrupted by a man warning everyone about those in power. Nada discovers the nearby church is a front; the choir is actually an audio recording and the building is filled with scientific equipment and cardboard boxes. Nada finds a box hidden in the wall, but escapes when the preacher catches him. At night, the police attack and bulldoze the shantytown. Nada returns in the morning to find the church empty, but with the hidden box still there. In an alley, he opens the box and finds dozens of sunglasses. Taking one, he hides the box of remaining sunglasses in a garbage can.

Nada discovers the sunglasses have unique properties. After putting on a pair, he sees the world in black and white and discovers it is not what it seems. Media and advertising hide constant subliminal totalitarian commands to obey and conform. Many of those with wealth and authority are actually humanoid aliens with skull-like faces. In a grocery store, Nada confronts an alien woman, who then speaks into her wristwatch notifying others about him. Two alien police officers try to apprehend Nada but he kills them, taking their guns. He goes on a shooting spree, killing several aliens that he encounters in a nearby bank. He sees one vanish using its wristwatch. Nada escapes, destroying a small, flying saucer-like alien surveillance drone and taking a Cable 54 assistant director, Holly Thompson (Meg Foster), hostage. At her hill-top home, Nada tries to convince her of the truth. He also begins suffering migraine headaches from using the glasses. Holly finds his story difficult to believe. Catching him unaware, Holly knocks him through a window and calls the police. Nada tumbles down a steep hillside and escapes, leaving his belongings behind.

Now a fugitive, Nada returns to the alley where he finds the garbage can that he hid the other glasses is empty. He sees and enters a nearby garbage truck, where he discovers and saves the box. Frank meets him to give him his paycheck and tells Nada (now considered a wanted man) to stay away. Frank refuses to believe his story. Nada fights with Frank in a long fistfight, trying to force him to put on a pair of sunglasses. Finally, Nada holds Frank down and puts them on him and he sees the truth. The two rent a hotel room to discuss their predicament. Gilbert (Peter Jason), a member of the shantytown, discovers them and notifies them about a secret meeting with other activists.

There, Nada and Frank are given special contact lenses to replace their sunglasses. They learn from the bearded man's broadcast that the aliens control Earth as their third world, depleting its resources and causing global warming before moving on to other planets. The aliens use a subliminal signal broadcast into people's brains to camouflage themselves. Destroying its source will allow everyone on Earth to see their true form. Frank is given an alien wristwatch which functions as a complex radio and teleportation device. Holly appears, apparently joining the cause before apologizing to Nada. However, the police suddenly attack the meeting, killing anyone in sight while Nada and Frank are cornered in an alley after killing their way out. Frank accidentally opens a temporary portal by throwing the watch, through which the two jump into a network of underground passages.

The two find the aliens in a grand hall celebrating with their elite human collaborators. The homeless drifter from earlier, now a well-dressed collaborator, believes the two to be collaborators as well. He takes them on a tour of the passages, revealed to link the alien society, including a space travel port. A further passage leads to the basement of Cable 54 station, the source of the aliens' signal. The two then launch an attack, killing many Alien soldiers, through the building to find the broadcaster on the roof, before meeting Holly and taking her along. As Nada climbs to the signal broadcaster disguised as a satellite dish, Holly kills Frank. Finally revealing herself to be a collaborator, Holly takes aim at Nada and persuades him to stop as alien-manned police helicopters hover overhead. Nada complies by dropping his weapon, but then retrieves a hidden pistol from his sleeve and kills her. He then shoots and destroys the broadcaster before being fatally wounded by the aliens in their helicopter. Before he dies, Nada gives them the finger as his last gesture now that he scored the final victory over the aliens. With the signal destroyed, humans all over the world are shown discovering the aliens in their midst on television, in a bar, and in a comical final shot one woman finds the man she is having sex with is actually an alien.

Roddy Piper as John Nada
Keith David as Frank Armitage
Meg Foster as Holly Thompson
Raymond St. Jacques as Street Preacher
George 'Buck' Flower as Drifter
Peter Jason as Gilbert
John Lawrence as Bearded Man
Susan Barnes as Brown-Haired Woman
Sy Richardson as Black Revolutionary
Susan Blanchard as Ingenue
Norman Alden as Construction Foreman

Poster of Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The idea for They Live came from a short story called "Eight O'Clock in the Morning" by Ray Nelson, originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction on November 1963, involving an alien invasion in the tradition of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which Nelson, along with artist Bill Wray, adapted into a story called "Nada" published in the Alien Encounters comic book anthology (cover date: April 1986).[1] John Carpenter describes Nelson's story as "...a D.O.A. type of story, in which a man is put in a trance by a stage hypnotist. When he awakens, he realizes that the entire human race has been hypnotized, and that alien creatures are controlling humanity. He has only until eight o'clock in the morning to solve the problem."[1] Carpenter acquired the film rights to both the comic book and short story and wrote the screenplay using Nelson's story as a basis for the film's structure.

The more political elements of the film are derived from Carpenter's growing distaste with the ever-increasing commercialization of 1980s popular culture and politics. He remarked, "I began watching TV again. I quickly realized that everything we see is designed to sell us something... It's all about wanting us to buy something. The only thing they want to do is take our money." To this end, Carpenter thought of sunglasses as being the tool to seeing the truth, which "is seen in black and white. It's as if the aliens have colorized us. That means, of course, that Ted Turner is really a monster from outer space." (Turner had received some bad press in the 1980s for colorizing classic black-and-white movies.) The director commented on the alien threat in an interview, "They want to own all our businesses. A Universal executive asked me, 'Where's the threat in that? We all sell out every day.' I ended up using that line in the film." The aliens were deliberately made to look like ghouls according to Carpenter, who said: "The creatures are corrupting us, so they, themselves, are corruptions of human beings."[1]

Because the screenplay was the product of so many sources: a short story, a comic book, and input from cast and crew, Carpenter decided to use the pseudonym "Frank Armitage", an allusion to one of the filmmaker's favorite writers, H. P. Lovecraft (Henry Armitage is a character in Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror).[1] Carpenter has always felt a close kinship with Lovecraft's worldview and according to the director, "Lovecraft wrote about the hidden world, the 'world underneath'. His stories were about gods who are repressed, who were once on Earth and are now coming back. The world underneath has a great deal to do with They Live."[1]

For the crucial role of Nada, the filmmaker cast professional wrestler Roddy Piper, whom he met at WrestleMania III earlier in 1987. For Carpenter it was an easy choice: "Unlike most Hollywood actors, Roddy has life written all over him."[1] Carpenter was impressed with Keith David's performance in The Thing and needed someone "who wouldn't be a traditional sidekick, but could hold his own."[1] To this end, Carpenter wrote the role of Frank specifically for the actor.

They Live was shot in eight weeks during March and April 1988, principally on location in downtown L.A. with a budget only slightly greater than $3,000,000.[1] One of the highlights of the film is a five-and-half minute alley fight between David and Piper over a pair of the special sunglasses. Carpenter recalls that the fight took three weeks to rehearse: "It was an incredibly brutal and funny fight, along the lines of the slugfest between John Wayne and Victor McLaglen in The Quiet Man."[1]

Box office[edit]
The film opened on November 4, 1988 and debuted at #1 at the North American box office grossing $4,827,000 during its opening weekend. [2][3] However, the film's audience quickly dwindled and it spent only two weeks in the top ten.[4] The film had a total domestic gross of $13,008,928.[2] Carpenter is on record as attributing the film's initial commercial failure to the hypothesis that "[those] who go to the movies in vast numbers these days don't want to be enlightened".[1] The film's original release date, advertised in promotional material as October 21, 1988, was pushed back two weeks to avoid direct competition with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, which was a success at the box office.

Critical response[edit]
Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a rating of 83%,[5] with the critical consensus saying "A politically subversive blend of horror and sci fi, They Live is an underrated genre film from John Carpenter." Metacritic, an aggregator of film critics' ratings and reviews, gave the film a rating average of 52 out of 100.[6]

In his review for the Chicago Reader, Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote, "Carpenter's wit and storytelling craft make this fun and watchable, although the script takes a number of unfortunate shortcuts, and the possibilities inherent in the movie's central conceit are explored only cursorily."[7] Jay Carr, writing for The Boston Globe, said "[O]nce Carpenter delivers his throwback-to-the-'50s visuals, complete with plump little B-movie flying saucers, and makes his point that the rich are fascist fiends, They Live starts running low on imagination and inventiveness", but felt that "as sci-fi horror comedy, They Live, with its wake-up call to the world, is in a class with Terminator and RoboCop, even though its hero doesn't sport bionic biceps".[8] Allmovie contributor Paul Brenner gave the film three and a half out of five stars.[9]

In her review for The New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote, "Since Mr. Carpenter seems to be trying to make a real point here, the flatness of They Live is doubly disappointing. So is its crazy inconsistency, since the film stops trying to abide even by its own game plan after a while."[10] Richard Harrington wrote in The Washington Post, "it's just John Carpenter as usual, trying to dig deep with a toy shovel. The plot for They Live is full of black holes, the acting is wretched, the effects are second-rate. In fact, the whole thing is so preposterous it makes V look like Masterpiece Theatre".[11] Rick Groen, in The Globe and Mail, wrote, "the movie never gets beyond the pop Orwell premise. The social commentary wipes clean with a dry towelette - it's not intrusive and not pedantic, just lighter-than-air."[12]

The 2012 documentary film The Pervert's Guide to Ideology presented by Slovene philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Žižek starts with an analysis of the film They Live: Žižek uses the main trope of the film, the wearing of the special sun-glasses reveals the truth of that which is perceived, to explain his definition of ideology. Žižek states:

"They Live is definitely one of the forgotten masterpieces of the Hollywood Left. ... The sunglasses function like a critique of ideology. They allow you to see the real message beneath all the propaganda, glitz, posters and so on. ... When you put the sunglasses on you see the dictatorship in democracy, the invisible order which sustains your apparent freedom."[13]

The film was ranked #18 on Entertainment Weekly magazine's "The Cult 25: The Essential Left-Field Movie Hits Since '83" list.[14] Rotten Tomatoes ranked the fight scene between Roddy Piper's character, John Nada, and Keith David's character, Frank Armitage, seventh on their list of the "The 20 Greatest Fights Scenes Ever".[15]

Jonathan Lethem called They Live one of his "favorite movies of the eighties, hands down," and wrote a book-length homage to it for the Soft Skull Press Deep Focus series.[16]

Shepard Fairey also credits the movie as a major source of inspiration, sharing a similar logo to his "OBEY" campaign. "They Live was ... the basis for my use of the word 'obey,'" Fairey said. "The movie has a very strong message about the power of commercialism and the way that people are manipulated by advertising."[17]


^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j Swires, Steve (November 1988). "John Carpenter and the Invasion of the Yuppie Snatchers". Starlog. pp. 37-40; 43.
^ Jump up to: a b IMDb Box Office/Business - They Live (1988)
Jump up ^ "'They Live' tops the weekend's box office". Sun Journal. 9 November 1988.
Jump up ^ Box Office Mojo - They Love weekly box office data
Jump up ^ They Live (1988) Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes
Jump up ^ They Live (1988) Movie Reviews - Metacritic. Accessed on 2 September 2012
Jump up ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "They Live". Chicago Reader. Retrieved May 12, 2009.
Jump up ^ Carr, Jay (November 4, 1988). "What if we're cattle for aliens?". Boston Globe.
Jump up ^ Brenner, Paul. "They Live". Allmovie. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
Jump up ^ Maslin, Janet (November 4, 1988). "A Pair of Sunglasses Reveals a World of Evil". The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2009.
Jump up ^ Harrington, Richard (November 5, 1988). "They Live". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 12, 2009.
Jump up ^ Groen, Rick (November 5, 1988). "They Live". Globe and Mail.
Jump up ^ "THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO IDEOLOGY (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 19 June 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
Jump up ^ "The Cult 25: The Essential Left-Field Movie Hits Since '83". Entertainment Weekly. September 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-04.
Jump up ^ Ryan, Tim. "Total Recall: The 20 Greatest Fights Scenes Ever". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
Jump up ^ Kachka, Boris. "Jonathan Lethem on John Carpenter's They Live and His Own Move to California". Vulture. Retrieved 2012-07-29.
Jump up ^ "Cool Stuff: Shepard Fairey's 'They Live' Mondo Poster | /Film". Slashfilm.com. 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2013-03-08.

MORE  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/They_Live

Awesome movie, one of the best of the 80s 05.Aug.2015 20:29


I posted a couple times here about it, with an attached graphic and YT clip excerpt in the past decade -

but either my site search technique is wrong or PDX IMC scrubbed those posts.

anyway RIP rrp, and thanks for being in John Carpenter's movie.

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Just scroll down to "Skip Ad" and click it.

Then just watch.

I Thought It Was About Being Homeless 10.Aug.2015 20:15


You would not think that someone who held the title electronics engineer could become homeless. Think again. I love how the guy just arrives off a hobo train. Enters a real hobo jungle. We used to throw rocks at the last car when I was a kid. They used to have cabooses at the end, and the railroad bulls would chase us for a couple blocks. Every kid should have this opportunity in social awareness, but they don't have cabooses anymore.

When you're homeless, the whole entire world is a prison, controlled by monsters. Really, ask any homeless.

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