Unknown Horror Film: They Live (1988)


‘I have come here to chew bubblegum … and kick some ass.  And I’m all...out...of...Bubblegum.'  With those few words, Roddy Piper (aka Roderick Toombs) has certifiably walked into cult movie history. 

Seriously, I don’t know how I missed this movie. ‘They Live’ was written and Directed by John Carpenter (in between ‘Big Trouble In Little China’ and ‘Halloween 4’ after Carpenter’s classic ‘Escape from New York’ was released in 1981).  

‘They Live’ was always those one of those questionable sci fi films I would gleem over...mostly seen on video store shelves throughout the 80s (mostly in VHS). It was only a Netflix 4 Star average rating that caught my attention to finally check it out, and now, I gotta say it’s one of my favorite left of center, weirdo movies up there with ‘Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai,’ ‘Repo Man’ and ‘Evil Dead.’

Needless to say the John Carpenter effect is in full force here with a hint of the spirit of ‘Escape From New York 1 & 2’ where a renegade dude (with a mullet, by the way) singularly fights for righteous justice and to save the world.

So what makes ‘They Live’ so epic?  Well where to begin?  It’s a recipe of the bizzarro storyline, the amazing one liners, the totally cheesy but appropriate music score (compliments from Carpenter as well), the epic / legendary fight scenes, and not to mention the two back to back amazing scenes ending the film.  Plus, you add Roddy Piper into the mix and this is just an epic cult classic.  



The year is now or anytime in the future and eerily reflects our current state of financial woes...where the elite is raking it all in while the middle and poor class are suffering.  What we don’t know is the elite are part of an alien subculture who, via secret transmissions in Television, Media and Advertising, are controlling the minds of the global populice to ‘Obey,’ ‘Watch TV,’ ‘Marry and Procreate,’ ‘Don’t Question Authority,’ ‘Don’t Have Independent Thought,’ etc.  

Nada (played by professional wrestler Roddy Piper...yes I told you this was Epic!), discovers the actual human resistance, who have developed some totally bas ass shades (sunglasses) that when worn, let’s the viewer see all the subliminal ‘control’ messages as well as the aliens themselves, masquerading as humans.  


Nada Discovers the Special Sunglasses

Nada and Frank Armitage (played awesomely by Keith David) decide to singularly break the alien signal that’s warping everyone’s minds. 

But...fair warning...you got to hang in there because the first 30 minutes are a bit of a ‘whatever.’  It’s only around the point where Nada discovers the special sunglasses that things start getting epic...and with the sunglasses the amazing one liners really start to fly as witnessed here:


‘I Have Come Here To Chew BubbleGum and Kick Some Ass...’

Of course we HAVE to make note of the bigger than life and epic fight scenes in ‘They Live.’  I just don’t know if the actors or John Carpenter knew they were walking into cult classic history...so much that South Park paid homage in ‘Cripple Fight.’  Here’s the original... 


Roddy Piper Really Wants You To Try On His Sunglasses. ‘Put on these sunglasses or start eating that trash can!’

And here’s the South Park Cripple Fight paying homage...a great video with a back to back look of ‘They Live’ vs South Park’s ‘Cripple Fight.’   


Cripple Fight vs They Live Fight Sequence 

As you can guess, Roddy Piper aka Nada ends up saving the world and (spoiler alert) lets the rest of the world see the aliens for who they really are.  You gotta see the last 10 seconds of the film...pure awesomeness as a hooker is riding some dude and the signal is broken and she sees that he’s really an alien...she screams and the alien says...‘What’s wrong, Baby?’ 

Nothing wrong here.  More ‘They Live’ please!  Thanks John Carpenter.  You officially Kick Ass with or without Chewing Gum.