They Live may be one the more obscure movies I’ve watched over the previous months, directed by John Carpenter, this 80s Sci-Fi/Comedy features WWE Hall of Famer “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as Nada, a run of the mill, working man suddenly caught up in a Global invasion of Alien beings masquerading as a humans in order to achieve unquestionable dominance over humanity.
Now I’m sure there are a few of you out there have probably never heard of They Live as a film, however what you may not be aware of is that it has had one of the greatest effects on society and it’s perception in the last 30 years. How? Well all of those OBEY posters you love to have printed on T-Shirts were based on the subliminal messages discovered by Nada once he wears the all-revealing Sunglasses required to differentiate man from alien. It’s commentary on humanity’s need to be led alongside its ignorance towards morality when it comes to personal survival.
What surprised me the most about They Live was it’s joy to be completely ludicrous in the face of a more than serious environment. Carpenter seems to revel in his ability to deform normality with a sense of the utterly outrageous. Take movies such as The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China, Carpenter manages to introduce an apparently normal climate for the characters to operate within, only for an incredibly raucous series of events to occur that subverts the norm as we know it.
They Live really is an entertaining, insightful tale of survivalism at its most basic form. Piper’s portrayal of Nada is rough around the edges, his experience as a professional wrestler gives him the opportunity to flex his improvisational skills as well as show off his skill in that brilliant 5 minute fight scene between him and his co-star Keith David.
Should I have watched They Live sooner? Without question. This really is a game-changer when it comes to 80s movies. Sure there are elements that are a little haphazard, but overall, it is undeniably an enjoyable, endearing film that any fan of the 80s action genre should add to their to be watched list.