Shocking Saturday: They Live

It’s been a while since I have done a Shocking Saturday, so what better way to return than with a cult classic. This week it’s John Carpenter’s sci-fi horror film ‘They Live’. It is a film that draws you in with its laughable 80s action movie acting, fight scenes and hairstyles, but keeps you gripped with a thought-provoking underlining story that will leave you questioning the world you live in.


The film starts off by following Nada (Roddy Piper), an unemployed over-the-top muscle-bound man who is looking for a job in the city. After he gets a job on a construction site, Frank (Keith David), a fellow worker, leads him to a part of the city that offers food and shelter for homeless people. Now that Nada has got a job and sort of a place to stay it seems that he might be able to start a life for himself. However, after television sets begin to pick up a man raving about hidden signals, and Nada stumbles across a giant storage room where there should be a church, it appears that this little homeless community is planning for something big. At night riot police and bulldozers destroy the settlement, and any evidence that was it was ever there is lost, but Nada finds a box that they missed, a box full of glasses that when worn show the world for what it really is…a massive organisation based on consumerism. Nada finds it his goal to get to the bottom of this, and take out anyone who gets in his way.

The acting throughout the film is questionable at best, however what it lacks in acting the film makes up for ridiculous fight scenes; one of which goes on for almost 10 minutes. After all this is an 80s film, and a very typical one; filled with cheesy one-liners and glam-rock hair. But in a way that is what makes it so good, it is sort of a nostalgic film that offers what we see in most films from that period, don’t let that put you off though because the actual plot is quite original.

What first drew me in the watching They Live was that it was directed by John Carpenter, one of the great horror directors who has been scaring people since he released Halloween in 1978. Carpenter has some great films under his belt, such as The Thing and The Fog, and most know him for his horror films. However, like in They Live, he has delved in the sci-fi genre as well on many occasions with Escape From New York and Ghosts of Mars – with mixed results. Thankfully They Live is one that would be great in any John Carpenter fans collection, as, when viewing it, is so obviously one of his films. From the bass-lined score to the mysterious characters the film screams classic Carpenter.

What I have found best about Carpenter’s films is the score, on the majority of his films he has created the music himself; sometimes with a little help from others, but he always has his say. It is easy to see how much effort has gone into creating it, as with Halloween and The Thing, the soundtrack was one of the aspects that defined those movies and brought that level of creepiness to the screen. Although They Live is not a horror, the funky bass that carries the film along is one of the prime things that keeps you watching as it usually sets the tone for the scene to come. Although you may let out a chuckle when the sound goes from silence to the bass line, it by no means takes away the enjoyment of the film; if anything it adds more to it.

They live is a great 80s movie and a great John Carpenter film that deviates slightly from his usual genre, it will leave you wondering and laughing.

Tag Line: You see them on the street. You watch them on TV. You might even vote for one this fall. You think they’re people just like you. You’re wrong. Dead wrong.

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆