Monstervision Proudly Presents

They Live (1988)

I came here to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I'm all out of bubble gum

Pro-wrestler Roddy Piper, who has made 17 movies so far, as a drifter who discovers that aliens are taking over and the only way to tell the difference between them and humans is with special glasses. Mostly serious sci-fi plot takes swipes at Reaganism, capitalism, yuppiedom and other folderol. Director John Carpenter even wanted Roddy to talk about the evils of the Reagan Administration while making the rounds promoting the movie, but Roddy refused because he "kinda liked Mr. Reagan."
Additional cast: Keith David, Meg Foster, Buck (George) Flower, Peter Jason, Raymond St. Jacques, John Lawrence, Sy Richardson, Jason Robard III, Larry Franco, Wendy Brainard, Dana Bratton.
88 minutes, rated R.
In "They Live," a science fiction thriller crossed with a political satire, director John Carpenter reveals what was really going on during the George Bush Administration. Rowdy Roddy Piper plays a homeless guy who discovers the horrible truth about "the people in charge," thanks to a pair of special glasses. His seven and a half minute fight scene with Keith David should please WCW fans but even non-Piper fans will be impressed by the way he delivers a line. Sample: "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass....and I'm all out of bubblegum."

In a 1988 interview with John Carpenter for American Cinematographer Magazine, the director said that "They Live began with a comic book I bought called 'Nada.' It was published by Eclipse Comics, a company which puts out very beautifully rendered science fiction stories. This particular strip was taken from a short story called "Eight O'Clock in the Morning," by Ray Nelson. In the story, this guy wakes up and realizes that the entire human race has been hypnotized, and that there are creatures among us. I became entranced with the story, but I felt that it should be updated. I thought that it might be more current if the guy woke up and realized that the Reagan Revolution was run by aliens from another planet."

"I must tell you," Carpenter added, "that my criticisms of society and the film business are not entirely serious. I've made a lot of money in the film business the way it is run today, and I am a complete capitalist. I'm just advocating a little humanity in the world. In order to do that, you have to go strong in the other direction, be a little outrageous. It's fun to attack the status quo."

And now for those popular drive-in totals from America's foremost horror connoisseur, Joe Bob Briggs:
"Two breasts. (Of course, the TNT censors took care of THOSE.)
Sixty-four dead bodies.
Yuppies from outer space.
Exploding TV studio.
One of the most hellacious two-man brawls ever put on film.
National Guard Fu.
Garbage Truck Fu.
And Meg Foster Fu.
Four stars. Check it out."

(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie Guide)

Bug-eyed Yuppie classic, the Invasion Of The Body Snatchers of the eighties, about outer space ghouls that live underneath El Lay, where they make Lee Press-On Nails commercials, talk to one another through their Rolexes, and send out riot squads to bulldoze the homeless. They're all from Andromeda, which apparently votes Republican. Our only hope for destroying the ghoul satellite dish, which puts everybody to sleep so they can't tell they're sitting around in hot tubs with pus-face outer-space aliens, is Rowdy Roddy Piper, who just got into town from Denver and happens to be hanging around the shantytown when the Ghoul Police run through it with clubs and shotguns, killing blind street preachers for cutting into their profit margins. Fortunately, he uncovers the anti-ghoul-squad hiding place, full of Magic Ray-bans, sunglasses that reveal the TRUE messages behind advertising billboards, like "Marry and Reproduce," "Consume," "No Thought," "Do Not Question Authority," and "Buy Neil Diamond Records." Not only that, when you're wearing the shades, you can see who's a ghoul and who's not. These are SMART ghouls, though, who have discovered that the Yuppies will collaborate--for silk shirts and Mercedes.
Two breasts.
64 dead bodies.
Exploding TV studio.
One of the most hellacious two-man brawls ever put on film.
National Guard Fu.
Garbage Truck Fu.
Meg Foster Fu.
Piper, as Nada the shotgun- toting cowboy ghoul-hunter, has all the best lines: "Hey, formaldehyde face!" and
"You know what you need? You need a Brazilian plastic surgeon!" and
"Life's a bitch--and she's back in heat" and
"Well, they ain't from Cleveland!" and
"I came here to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I'm all out of bubble gum," which he told us in tonight's host segments wasn't in the script - director John Carpenter told him to say something before entering the bank to confront the aliens, and he'd just spit out his gum, so...

With Keith David of Christine as the sidekick from Detroit,
Peter Jason as Gilbert the anti-ghoul organizer ("The world needs a wakeup call, and we're gonna phone it in"),
George "Buck" Flower as the old coot who starts collaborating with the ghouls ("It's BUSINESS, that's all it is--what's the threat?--we sell out every day").
Directed by John Carpenter, who also did the music and wrote the screenplay (as Frank Armitage). 4 stars

2000 Joe Bob Briggs. All Rights Reserved. Not an AOL Time-Warner Company in this lifetime.
"They Live" is available on video and on DVD

For this and other movie reviews by the artist formerly known as the host of MonsterVision, go to Joe Bob

"They Live" was seen on MonsterVision 8-8-98.
Email me if you would like to see complete transcript of "They Live" host segments

[TNT Announcer during end credits of "They Live"] If you think a real hero has to stand the test of time, meet one immortal who uses it as his weapon. Find out why there can only be one, with Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery in Highlander, tomorrow on TNT. MonsterVision host segments for Highlander

Back to Monstervision, or Scifans
The Doctor needs help Here there be monsters
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl

Elvis has left the building, and he took Joe Bob with him.

TNT Weekly Weird description of 8-8-98 broadcast
1998 Turner Network Television, a Time-Warner Company. All rights reserved