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Nordling here.

John  Carpenter's THEY LIVE is a fun film in his catalog - quotable, with good action and probably one of the best, most ridiculous fight scenes in film history.  "Rowdy" Roddy Piper was the tough guy hero, who wore sunglasses that revealed that aliens had infiltrated every level of society.  The satirical aspects of THEY LIVE aren't much dated at all; I'm surprised that no one hasn't tried to remake it before now, honestly.  And now Matt Reeves is making a film based on the short story that inspired THEY LIVE, according to Deadline.

Strictly speaking, Matt Reeves' version won't be a remake, but a straight-up adaptation of the short story "8 O'Clock In The Morning", by Ray Nelson.  That story is more of a thriller where the hero realizes that aliens are everywhere, who control everything, but it doesn't touch on the social themes of Carpenter's film so much as it does the paranoid aspects of  the character being the only one who knows that the aliens are among us. "I saw an opportunity to do a movie that was very point-of-view driven, a psychological science fiction thriller that explores this guy’s nightmare.  There could be a desperate love story at the center of this. Carpenter took a satirical view of the material and the larger political implication that we’re being controlled. I am very drawn to the emotional side, the nightmare experience with the paranoia of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS or a Roman Polanski-style film," Reeves told Deadline.

I like Reeves as a director and as a writer - his LET ME IN, while not as good as the original, of course, was still more quality than most of us expected from a remake of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.  I'm worried that Reeves might put himself into a rut by making adaptations and remakes like this, but I'm confident he will bring his own voice to the project.  Producer Eric Newman stated that, "There is a paranoid element to this, but the audience is in lock step with this guy, seeing the aliens from his point of view."  Sounds like he's trying something closer to the source material, and different from Carpenter's film.  I don't expect a long fight sequence in an alley with this one - more of a cerebral film, and that sounds like a good angle to me.

Nordling, out.  

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  • April 11, 2011, 6:47 p.m. CST

    John Carpenter's filmography is getting raped

    by Bobo_Vision

  • Carpenter is hog-tied and squealing.

  • April 11, 2011, 6:49 p.m. CST

    Stephen King

    by Quackfu

  • April 11, 2011, 6:50 p.m. CST

    Stephen King's (take 2)

    by Quackfu

    Short story "The Ten O'Clock Tribe" was a blatant rip on both "They Live" and the story "8 O'Clock...." But I don't remember anyone calling him out on it. Well, sir I am doing it now......Is he even listening?

  • April 11, 2011, 6:58 p.m. CST

    sounds like "The Hanging Stranger"

    by mojination

    i think it was by Phillip K Dick..? it's about a dude that finds someone hung up in the centre of town one morning, and when noone seems to be bothered he discovers a clandestine invasion is underway.

  • April 11, 2011, 7 p.m. CST

    "I'm worried that Reeves might put himself into a rut...

    by matthooper8

    ... by making adaptations and remakes like this" Why the fuck would you care? What are you his mother? This guy made one crappy film and one decent film. Your worried his mediocre career might take a downward spiral.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:03 p.m. CST

    I would have thought the purpose of a remake...

    by PreciousRoy

    ...would be to explore the social themes, as they're incredibly topical right now. He's got two hit movies-- what the hell do I know? Good luck, Matt Reeves, and please don't include the phrase 'dirty mother fucker' in it, your take doesn't need that.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:05 p.m. CST


    by uncleduke78


  • April 11, 2011, 7:09 p.m. CST

    Remember reading this story as a kid; chilling stuff...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...They Live is a very loose adaptation, greatly marred by its endless, WWF-style fight scene. Maybe it would have fit Hell Comes To Frogtown, but not this material. On the other hand, it did help plump out the short story material to feature length... This is the problem facing Matt Reeves. The short story would be a perfect fit for a show like the Twilight Zone, complete with snapper ending, but it has to be dramatically extended for a feature. Carpenter, sad to say, was already on the decline at this point in his career, so I actually think Reeves might be better suited to adapt it; but he's got his work cut out for him.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:11 p.m. CST

    Who the fuck is Matt Reeves?

    by torontoxic

    Seriously why would anyone assume anyone outside of a very small circle of people know who he is. Like at all. He's a complete nobody in the truest sense. Anyway THEY LIVE is really just known for that epic fight scene. The concept is very base level. I hope it turns out to be a good movie but I still have no clue who the hell the guy wanting to make it is. He must suck a mean pole or something for you guys to be pushing him like he's a brand.

  • First he tries to best Alfredson, now Carpenter? Fuck. What a dumbass.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:27 p.m. CST

    Seems like Reeves is a studio lackey

    by Bobo_Vision

    He does the studio's bidding, and directs projects that bigger fish decide they would rather produce, like Abrams's Cloverfield....and remaking shit.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:34 p.m. CST

    Let Me In had a surprising amount of class and restraint

    by Happyfat73

    Matt Reeves was pushing shit up hill trying to follow the brilliance of Let The Right One In... but when considered on its own, it is probably the classiest American-made horror film to be released in years.</p> It showed the guy has a good eye (in the shots that weren't lifted from the original) and he got good performances out of the actors.</p> I know TBers like to share their bile and pidgeon hole filmmakers into narrow categories, consisting of "suck" and "rulez", but I think Reeves has shown genuine potential, and has yet to earn the contempt he gets shown 'round these parts.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:39 p.m. CST

    Quack fu, I hate to disagree with a guy who's a fellow Howard the Duck fan...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...especially since I think the story you take your nick from is the best one...but I do. King's tale (which is The Ten O'Clock People, by the by) could be derivative of this story; King is a derivative writer, as he admits; but he's a hell of an elaborator, as he has also said. In this case, the smoking angle, I think, and the fact that the hero is not the first to discover the situation (as the title indicates), makes it sufficiently distinctive to keep it from being "a blatant rip". Besides, Nelson, an underrated writer, was scarcely the only one to do an only-one-man-realises-the-truth-about-aliens story. Dick did a few, though I'm not familiar with the one mojination mentions. And a ABC Movie Of The Week called Night Slaves, with James Franciscus, I think, as a guy with a steel plate in his head, who's the only one, etc., was based on a earlier novel called by a guy named Miller, I believe, called The Gods Hate Kansas. And doesn't the guy in It Came From Outer Space have the same condition? Frederic Brown's story about a guy who learns we're threatened by ants, called Come And Go Mad, is in the same vein. I could go on... There's just a strain in SF horror that's intensely paranoid, and it goes back a looong way.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:42 p.m. CST

    Reeves, you studio hack:

    by Man in Suit

  • April 11, 2011, 7:42 p.m. CST

    mojination, I just checked...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ..and "The Hanging Stranger" is indeed a 1953 Dick story. Good call. It's free online; I'll have to read it. Thanks for the tip.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:42 p.m. CST

    I dont understand...

    by Billy_D_Williams

    they're going to the original source material and not calling it a why not just write something original in the first place and leave the source material alone??? this is how they're dodging the "its a remake" problem, but they just look even stupider. its like, okay... the original story has no brand recognition since its not called They Live, but they're using it because it was the basis of They Live??? so is this a coincidence? did they stumble upon the short story without realizing it inspired They Live and liked it? or did they say, "lets remake They Live, but instead, lets adapt the short story it was based on, so the fans wont get mad at us for doing yet another (fucking) remake" this shit stinks to high heaven...and Matt Reeves is proving to be just a copycat hack at this point.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:45 p.m. CST


    by Billy_D_Williams

    "I'm worried that Reeves might put himself into a rut ... by making adaptations and remakes like this" Why the fuck would you care? What are you his mother? This guy made one crappy film and one decent film. Your worried his mediocre career might take a downward spiral. ----------- hahahahahahaha, exactly, the guy is just another in a long line of journeyman studio paid drones...fuck him and his shitty career.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:45 p.m. CST

    The "They Live" Fight Scene . . .

    by Man in Suit

    . . . does have symbolic value in the movie. As enjoyably long, brutal and ridiculous as it is, the point of the scene is the lengths people will endure to ignore the reality of their situation (putting on the glasses). Sci-fi and horror fans should know that being "cerebral" does not mean that something has to move at the pace of the Solaris remake.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:49 p.m. CST

    They way to make remakes acceptable is MAKING THEM GOOD.

    by JuanSanchez

    Stop dancing around the term.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:50 p.m. CST


    by Billy_D_Williams

    " it is probably the classiest American-made horror film to be released in years. It showed the guy has a good eye (in the shots that weren't lifted from the original) and he got good performances " --------- happyfat....if i take someone else's drawing, put tracing paper over it and draw accordingly, i am not a good artist, i am a fucking copycat that is merely good at moving his hand around. the same can be applied to this guy's career...he's good at copying.

  • ...Halloween would be a different story. And given that The Thing was itself a remake of a superb-in-it's-own-right Howard Hawks movie (even if Christian Nyby got official credit), where would Carpenter get the balls to complain?

  • April 11, 2011, 7:52 p.m. CST

    man in suit

    by Billy_D_Williams

    thank you for pointing out the brilliance of Carpenter's film...the length and brutality of the fight scene definitely serves a purpose, which seems to go over the head of most idiots who cannot grasp subtext.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:53 p.m. CST

    THEY LIVE is the most important movie ever made!

    by frankenstone

    (It is also one of the best movies ever made.) Americans should be forced to watch it at least once a week until they wake up and rise up against our corporate overlords and masters!

  • Set in Tokyo, of course.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:57 p.m. CST

    Just give us They Live on BD already!

    by Jaster

    I adore Carpenter's filmography...well up until it started to take a dive with Village of teh Damned and turned into a shit-pie to the wall with Ghosts of Mars. So many amazing films. We should all be aware that Carpenter himself is behind many of the remakes because he knows he's lost his touch but still has bills to pay.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:58 p.m. CST


    by Quackfu

    Damn! Ya got me. I was just pulling it from 12 year old memory. But King's hero is like Roddy. He comes into the action that has been started up by others. But really who cares. If we are going to debate fiction, there are much better stories to go with. By the name for you too.

  • April 11, 2011, 7:59 p.m. CST

    billy_d_williams, I get the subtext of the fight...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...I got it in the first 3 minutes. Would an extra 30 minutes have made it even better? It has a point, I just feel it went on too long. Call it a judgment call.

  • April 11, 2011, 8 p.m. CST


    by Quackfu

    have you read the original "Who Goes There?" that's a fun one too. A little....patriotic??? niave??? but fun. Amazing to see the films that grew from that seed (no pun0

  • April 11, 2011, 8:02 p.m. CST


    by blakindigo

  • April 11, 2011, 8:03 p.m. CST

    I'm all outta gum

    by rsdrum

  • April 11, 2011, 8:03 p.m. CST


    by Billy_D_Williams

    not everyone would get it in the first 3 minutes...i think the absurdly long fight was Carpenter over-compensating for all the stupid people in the audience.

  • April 11, 2011, 8:14 p.m. CST

    Also, billy_d, about your argument that...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ..."they're going to the original source material and not calling it a why not just write something original in the first place and leave the source material alone???"...doesn't this apply to Carpenter's The Thing? Didn't he say he wanted to stick more closely to John W. Campbell, Jr.'s story "Who Goes There", and bring in the shapeshifting abilities of the alien in the original? It still changes the story considerably (the ending first and foremost), but it definitely was closer than Hawks's Thing was. So was this a bad idea? Most seem to think it was one of Carpenter's best, but it wouldn't have existed if he'd followed your advice. (Hope this doesn't sound too mean-spirited, because we agreed earlier on something in the Zod talkback. So, nothing personal, man; I just disagree. Been a bad day, and I don't want to let it bleed into this. Sorry if it has.)

  • April 11, 2011, 8:24 p.m. CST

    If you ditch the social satire of the original...

    by MaxDembo1

    I don't give a fuck. Fuck this remake too!!!!

  • April 11, 2011, 8:26 p.m. CST


    by Billy_D_Williams

    the difference is, Carpenter and Reeves arent even in the same universe in terms of talent (at least the young Carpenter)...Reeves is a studio the time of the Thing, Carpenter was coming off Halloween, a classic of the genre...Reeves is coming off a mediocre film and a fucking bland no, its not the same cause Reeves doesn't have the ability to make anything even approaching the brilliance of The Thing (or Halloween)

  • April 11, 2011, 8:26 p.m. CST


    by Billy_D_Williams

    the difference is, Carpenter and Reeves arent even in the same universe in terms of talent (at least the young Carpenter)...Reeves is a studio the time of the Thing, Carpenter was coming off Halloween, a classic of the genre...Reeves is coming off a mediocre film and a fucking bland no, its not the same cause Reeves doesn't have the ability to make anything even approaching the brilliance of The Thing (or Halloween)

  • April 11, 2011, 8:27 p.m. CST


    by Billy_D_Williams

    the difference is, Carpenter and Reeves arent even in the same universe in terms of talent (at least the young Carpenter)...Reeves is a studio the time of the Thing, Carpenter was coming off Halloween, a classic of the genre...Reeves is coming off a mediocre film and a fucking bland no, its not the same cause Reeves doesn't have the ability to make anything even approaching the brilliance of The Thing (or Halloween)

  • April 11, 2011, 8:28 p.m. CST

    Mr. Horse, how do you feel about this? No sir, I don't like it.

    by Darth_Kong

  • April 11, 2011, 8:28 p.m. CST

    sorry for the triple post, weird...

    by Billy_D_Williams

  • April 11, 2011, 8:31 p.m. CST

    quackfu, thanks...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...and I guess you know by now I have read Who Goes There? Maybe a little more ...innocent perhaps?...than Carpenter's nihilistic version, but that blood test still's a tense little scene. And the ending, where they realize the Thing was _this_ close to finishing its antigrav device and heading out to conquer the world always reminded me of the narrow averted horors in some Lovecraft stories (probably because it shares its setting with At The Mountains of Madness. Still wish we wre seeing that one, speaking of coming _this_ close... There's a neat story about Campbell, too. His mother had an identical twin sister who hated him. She was around frequently, so he was never sure, when he needed his mom and thought he saw her, just who she really was..."Who goes there?", indeed. And speaking of neat stories, Peter Watts recently wrote a story called The Things, based on the Carpenter film and told from the Thing's point of view. I think you'd probably like it, and I think it's online. Check it out if you can.

  • April 11, 2011, 8:35 p.m. CST


    by kisskissbangbang

    ...jealous you haven't met any amigos on the Net? (I keed, I keed..)

  • April 11, 2011, 8:47 p.m. CST

    i for one

    by mojination

    would totally check out a flick like this. i love Matt Reeve and we're overdue for a "they live among us" kinda story. BSG was arguably the last decent attempt at this in a long time.

  • April 11, 2011, 8:49 p.m. CST

    'Best' fight scene? Nordling, you're an idiot

    by SmokingRobot

    That pointless, ridiculous, tedious scene was the stupidest use of film I have EVER SEEN. Like so many of JC's films, 'They Live' is basically one huge lost opportunity after another. Great idea. Terrible movie.

  • April 11, 2011, 8:52 p.m. CST

    billy_d, triple posts happen, no biggie...

    by kisskissbangbang for Carpenter and Reeves, while the young Carpenter was amazing, making five great movies in a row, I differ from most in including Elvis, his TV Kurt Russell bio, and excluding Escape from New York, which I think his first mediocre film. Kurt's fine, and it starts off well, but just seems to get more convenient and cliched as it goes. I especially hated the fight between Snake and...Ox, was it?...near the end. (At least I'm consistent, right?) I enjoyed Yul Brynner's Ultimate Warrior more. So for me The Thing was a welcome return to form. I actually like Cloverfield and found Let Me In to be far better than I feared (perhaps low expectations helped). So I like Reeves better than you do, though not as much as I like the Carpenter who did Assault On Precinct 13. They're not on a par, by any means, but I think Reeves has some promise, and (I hate to say it) is better already than late Carpenter. Will he ever match Carpenter's early work? Probably not...but who knows?

  • April 11, 2011, 9:45 p.m. CST

    Thank God...

    by catlettuce4

    ...there is room for a love story in the middle of it all.

  • April 11, 2011, 9:51 p.m. CST

    I liked They Live

    by catlettuce4

    but it seemed to me the ending felt too rushed. The early half or 3/4 of the movie moved at a certain slower pace, building it all up, then at the end it suddenly all was resolved in a very short time. It seemed a little unbelievable to me that all that could be accomplished (no spoilers) as fast as it was, with minimal difficulty.

  • He said he enjoys being a capitalist and getting a check. I can't blame him. But I think he has one last great film in him. He needs to do a minimalist style though like his earlier films. If he can do it for not much money, but tons of his own style.

  • April 11, 2011, 10:34 p.m. CST

    Billy D Williams

    by Happyfat73

    You say that you can apply the copycat hack label to this guy's career - but you are referring to only one film. One film does not a career make.</p> </p> Cloverfield was uneven, sure, but it wasn't a traced over copy of something else.</p> </p> Besides which, I'll happily say that Let Me In did some things that were pretty great - most notably the whole car crash sequence. Let Me In could have been a typical, crass, loud American remake - but it wasn't, which is in itself a minor miracle.</p> </p> I'm always willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt, especially after only a couple of films. Filmmakers tend to grow and evolve (or devolve) throughout their careers.</p> </p> I find the whole studio hack criticism to be a bit disingenuous - there are very few filmmakers making studio films with the clout to do what they want when it comes to any film with more than a modest budget. I dare say most aspiring filmmakers here would do what they were told too if it allowed them to play in the studio sandbox.</p> </p> In any case, I don't think Matt Reeves has proven himself either way... yet. Far be it for me to rob any TBer of their hard-earned vitriol, but he's just another in the very long list of examples that cannot be categorised according to the binary rules/sucks paradigm that dominates this place.

  • April 11, 2011, 11:07 p.m. CST

    John Cena and Terry Crews

    by TheJudger

    I going to play catch-up here. I'm still not big on Matt Reeves as a director. Just admitting my own personal sensibilities. I haven't seen his remake for Let The Right One In. King liked it, so maybe I should check it out for that reason alone. I did not like Cloverfield. I just didn't. I tried. I just couldn't enjoy it. The characters really annoyed me. Gonna have to read the short story. I can't believe I haven't yet. I have watched this movie so many times. I always thought the next logical step to go with the story or for a remake for that matter would be that "They" won. After everyone find out about them. The economic environment is completely under their control. No more Food No more Gas No more Power No more Water Want these things, take a side. "Our" side. Civil war of sorts if you will breaks out. Just like our real world. Young men fight for our old men government. People will want to survive. They will take sides and kill for it. The resistance will grow but the so will the supporters and slaves. In my mind this was always the goal in the first film. Break mans will and spirit first, gain control of his assets, use the assets against him to force or coerce him to play on your team. They kind of did this in the first film, but they didn't do it out in the open, they disguised it. Made a secret society. George blew their cover at the end. Now they cant hide who they are, but their fingers are in so deep. It's already to late. Phase 2 begins.. "Gloria you look like shit!"

  • April 12, 2011, 12:07 a.m. CST


    by Gozu

    But you're right, Nerfherder, a psychological approach might be fascinating (yawn).

  • April 12, 2011, 12:52 a.m. CST


    by Ace of Wands

    you seemed to have missed the reason for that fight being so lengthy; apart from the fun factor, of course, it symbolises the struggle to get others to shake of the their constructed view of the world and to see it as it actually is. Nada having to force Armitage to wear the glasses is indicative of the struggle that conspiracy theorists have in waking others up to what is really happening in the world around them. Not saying that any of what these theorists believe is true or not, just indicating what that long drawn out fight symbolises.

  • April 12, 2011, 1:22 a.m. CST

    That's weird. I only read that story about a month ago.

    by V'Shael

    It's too short to make a movie, unless they pad it with stuff that isn't there. So don't call it a straight up adaptation. They're going to add shit to it.

  • April 12, 2011, 1:27 a.m. CST

    ace of wands, I appreciate the point and said so to billy_d_williams above...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...I just feel the point could have been made quite a bit sooner. And I'm certainly not a snobbish cineaste "above" fight scenes; I love fight scenes. Just not this one. Too many notes, I guess. More seriously, since I also said above I'm not high on the fight near the end of Escape From New York, maybe I just don't like wrestling-type fight scenes. I don't like wrestling itself, so it might not be surprising I don't like movie fights in that style, though I guess it's appropriate when Rowdy Roddy Piper is your lead. But you're not slipping those glasses on me. Why don't you try mine instead, Ace? <sleeper hold, followed by suplex> Gotcha now!

  • April 12, 2011, 1:43 a.m. CST

    v'shael, I said the same thing above...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...great Twilight Zone ep, but not easily expanded for a feature. I've always felt that novellas are the best length to adapt for a feature film. Novels are hard to whittle down, and short stories even harder to draw out.

  • April 12, 2011, 1:49 a.m. CST

    Wow, I shouldn't have used carats, the words disappeared...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ... let's try that again. But you're not slipping those glasses on me. Why don't you try mine instead, Ace? *sleeper hold followed by suplex* Gotcha now!

  • April 12, 2011, 1:55 a.m. CST

    And V'shael, I'm curious. Where'd you read the story?...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...It's not reprinted often. I saw it in an old Magazine of Fantasy and Science collection. Is it perhaps on the Net?

  • April 12, 2011, 2:01 a.m. CST

    turd, glad to hear we agree on Escape From New York...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...I;ve often wondered about its following. I would guess people enjoy Snake so much, they tend to overrate the film he's in. Of course, I love Big Trouble In Little China, so what do I know? See you in the morning, troops.

  • ... it still is a dumbed down version of the original LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. That's an unavoidable fact. There's nothing in LET ME IN that surpases or elevates above the original. LET ME IN loses on all accounts in comparison. It's too bad for LET ME IN that it's a remake. Had it been an original movie and LET THE RGHT ONE IN never existed, then it could had justified the enthusiasm it got in here. Matt Reeves is an alright director. He just needs to completly dissociate himself with JJ Abrams so he can be his own man. And he could start that by hiring a different score composer.

  • April 12, 2011, 3:05 a.m. CST

    THEY LIVE, the great american communist movie.

    by AsimovLives

  • April 12, 2011, 3:06 a.m. CST

    Whatever happened to the quality of talkbacker on here?

    by kwisatzhaderach

    Seems like all the cool ones left during the tech probs on here last year. Ragging on 'Escape From New York' now? Jesus wept. <p> Anyways, They Live is awesome, and anyone that disagrees needs to read Jonathan Lethem's 'They Live' Deep Focus book immediately.

  • April 12, 2011, 3:09 a.m. CST

    Mediocre execution Turd?

    by kwisatzhaderach

    You do realise the production budget for Escape from New York was $7 million. What they achieved for that money was incredible.

  • April 12, 2011, 4:32 a.m. CST

    "Strictly speaking, Matt Reeves' version won't be a remake"

    by buggerbugger

    That's why it'll be called 'They Live' instead of '8 o'Clock in the Morning', right? This'll be shit without Carpenter's distinctive electro-Western soundtrack - much like every other remake of Carpenter's work has been shit.

  • April 12, 2011, 4:34 a.m. CST

    What's The Point?

    by SonOfChiba

    Remake minus Carpenter and Piper = pointlessness personified The original story was only OK, so this a true fail just waiting to happen

  • April 12, 2011, 7:36 a.m. CST

    Just wanted to post as my name is relevant

    by john_nada

    ...and can't believe anyone would dare to criticise the They Live fight has this world become?

  • April 12, 2011, 8 a.m. CST

    Fucking Hollywood

    by klytusnotdead

    " you leave Jack Burton alone", anyways to all the fuckers ragging on They Live go fucken watch glee or some GFS shit like that. They Live is one of the best movies ever made by JC.end of line.

  • April 12, 2011, 8:29 a.m. CST

    "I'm here to kick ass and chew bubble gum."

    by Cobb05

    I always felt that They Live was a movie that was just asking for a remake. it's a great idea that didn't really do all that it could've of. I don't like the idea that it's going to be more psychological. I mean the idea of the sunglasses was a badass idea. I just hope they keep the look of the aliens.

  • April 12, 2011, 8:44 a.m. CST

    Someone complains the fight in They Live is too long...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...and it's time to throw away the glasses, head back into the shadows of Plato's cave, and accept the soul-crushing victory of mindless, alien-imposed conformist consumerism? C'mon people, isn't that a little overwrought? I didn't trash the movie, I said its famed fight scene made its point early on and is overextended. That's not nearly the same thing. I suppose I implied it wasn't as good as Halloween or Assault on Precinct 13. I'll say that explicitly now. So what? The vast majority of viewers agree Carpenter's movies suffered from a gradual decline with a few upticks. Is anyone going to argue his movies got steadily better from Dark Star to Ghosts of Mars? I thought not. I rank They Live in the middle of his work. The fight scene is way too long, the look of the aliens is unimaginative, and Piper's not as good an actor as Kurt Russell. And it's pretty much a complete overhaul of the source material, keeping only the basic situation, the signs, and the name of the hero. But taken on its own, it's a decent film, and Piper is effective enough to work, as is the satire. It's good but not great. I respect Lethem and his work, am thrilled I got to meet him once, and am curious to see his take on the film; I thank kwisatz for steering me to it. Maybe Lethem will convince me I'm underrating it. But I don't think he'd try to do it by saying I'm not cool, how dare I criticise it, or if I don't love it unquestioningly, the aliens win. That's equally as conformist as anything the movie attacks. Isn't it just barely possible some of you need to put on some glasses yourself?

  • April 12, 2011, 9:33 a.m. CST

    kisskissbangbang: A few upticks?

    by Gozu

    Yeah, like "Elvis," "Assault on Precinct 13," "Halloween," "The Fog," "Escape from New York," "The Thing," "Christine," "Starman," "Big Trouble in Little China," "Prince of Darkness," and then, oh yeah, "They Live." The 90's? Well, that's a different story, but basically from 1974 to 1988, John Carpenter had a fucking solid 14 year run. The quality of the acting, special effects, cinematography, music, and editing ALL improved with each film. I love "Dark Star," it's "Dr. Strangelove" in space, but Carpenter definitely had room for growth. It's one thing to dislike those movies, but to not recognize them as more increasingly more accomplished than something Carpenter directed as a film student kind of makes you look like an ass.

  • April 12, 2011, 10:04 a.m. CST

    Meg Foster almost ruined They Live

    by Zombieflicker

    Just cast someone with a little more personality then her please. Otherwise... Great Movie, Great Score, Great One-Liners. Best part for me (other than the fight scene), was the end "What's wrong baby?".

  • April 12, 2011, 10:20 a.m. CST

    gozu, I should have been a little clearer...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...when I said gradual decline, I meant that overall his earlier films are better than his later ones, which we agree upon. I, too, love Dark Star, and it's astonishing what he did with a microbudget, but it's not as accomplished as Halloween, say. You're absolutely right there. And any decline would, for me, start, not with Dark Star, but Escape From New York, making the upticks The Thing, Starman, and Big Trouble. I'll also agree that, on a technical level, he grew for quite some time. I'm thinking more about the stories he told and my general level of satisfaction with his films. I'm quite happy with most of those movies (and so glad you mentioned Elvis, which seems to get left off the list sometimes just because it's a TV movie). To mention the others I'm less happy with... As I've said, I think Escape starts off fine, then falls off steadily; storywise, it doesn't seem to me to pay off on a great setup. Christine is solid, but somehow disappointed me (as did the book); I might need to revisit it to pin down the problem (or perhaps realize I don't have one after all). Prince of Darkness is an ambitious attempt to do a cross between Nigel Kneale and Lovecraft which, for me, falls short of those ambitions, not for want of technical skill. They Live...well, we've already been there. I guess my problems are more with Carpenter as a writer than a director. His skill as a director covered up his occasional lapses early on (how did Michael learn to drive after being locked up as a kid? Yet I never thought to ask the question till the third time I saw Halloween); but they become more visible as he went along. Or so I think. Still, none of the films I mentioned as disappointments are terrible films; I just like them less than the others. I would never disrespect Carpenter by implying he peaked with his first film; but I can see how you might have inferred that. Hope this makes things clearer, gozu.

  • April 12, 2011, 10:29 a.m. CST

    8 o'clock in the morning - link

    by Fred Seems like a legit copy.

  • April 12, 2011, 11:18 a.m. CST


    by blakindigo

  • April 12, 2011, 11:27 a.m. CST

    "how did Michael learn to drive after being locked up as a kid?"

    by buggerbugger

    Would you ask that of Linda Blair's character in 'The Exorcist' if she'd suddenly leapt out of the window and taken off in the nearest vehicle? Sometimes what looks like a little boy or girl isn't a little boy or girl. And sometimes what looks like a comatose 21-year-old mental patient is... something else entirely. That's the point of the film, isn't it?

  • April 12, 2011, 11:32 a.m. CST


    by Jeff

    After seeing "Let Me In," I'm sure that Matt Reeves could do something compelling with this story. Paranoid, character-based science fiction? Hell, yes. This could actually be something very cool.

  • April 12, 2011, 12:42 p.m. CST

    The one Carpenter movie that would be hard to improve upon

    by RegnadKcin

    While The Thing was true to the original "Who Goes There?" I was screwed up by letting the gooey monster special effects get cranked up to 11. The story was strong enough without silly KY-coated rubber monsters. They Live was a far more controlled film. The only complaints I hear are about the fight scene, which usually appears in lists of 'top movie fight scenes' and IMO, really works. Yes, the alien masks are cheesy, and I guess if you read the original story, are far too anthropomorphic. The most we can hope for with a remake is truly otherworldly alien puppetmasters. It would be a big letdown if the sociopolitical theme is absent. They Live is the best explanation ever of the Reagan Recession.

  • April 12, 2011, 1:32 p.m. CST


    by Ace of Wands

    sorry about my "repetitive" reply to your post; I was on my way out to work when I noted what you had said and didn't have time to check all the other posts, just wanted to get my tuppence worth in, I guess. I'm not so hot on wrestling and that style of fighting either but in the case of They Live I didn't mind the drawn...out...length...of...the...fight as I thought that it nicely illustrated the theme of the movie, and it was fuckin' funny.

  • April 12, 2011, 2:32 p.m. CST

    by NixEclips

    Carpenter's The Thing is not a re-make. It's an adaptation of the source material. So is this. Shut the hell up, whoever was bitching about them doing this just to say it's not a re-make.

  • April 12, 2011, 3:49 p.m. CST

    Come on man!!!

    by AmbroseChaseWillRise

    this is America. People don't rise up and fight! They just roll over, grab their ankles and say, "Thank you, can I have more!".

  • April 12, 2011, 3:55 p.m. CST


    by AmbroseChaseWillRise

    he was just visualizing the fact, that you have to bring foot to ass to convice your friends that the world is so screwed.

  • April 12, 2011, 5:28 p.m. CST

    They Live is one of Carpenters best

    by Smack_Teddy

    it has a brilliant third act/ending, much better than a lot of his other classics

  • April 12, 2011, 6:04 p.m. CST

    kisskissbangbang, kind of with you except for...

    by Gozu

    "Prince of Darkness," which I think is severely underrated and on par with "The Thing" and "Halloween," if not superior. There's a surreal quality to it that you just don't get in his other films and while the characters offer explanations for what's happening, they're still grasping at straws. It's the only time since "Halloween" that Carpenter really made a film that seemed to be happening right now, in your neighborhood. Finally, it's just full of so many images that are really tough to get out of your head (any scenes with mirrors, the green slime trickling out of Susan's mouth, the video broadcast from the year 1-9-9-9). I know I'm in the minority here, but frankly, I'm glad it's not more popular because then it's less likely to get remade by some asshole.

  • April 12, 2011, 7:02 p.m. CST

    Good idea thejudger

    by Turingtestee

    Damn good idea.

  • April 12, 2011, 7:05 p.m. CST

    Loomis remarks that "Someone must have taught him!"

    by Turingtestee

    Or something to that effect just after he steals the car.

  • April 12, 2011, 7:25 p.m. CST

    turingtestee, you're right, but it seems unlikely...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...didn't Loomis say that Michael hadn't said a word while he was in there? Hard to see him palling around with a groundskeeper, being trusted enough to get lessons, or some other scenario that might play out with a friendlier inmate. But the remark does seem like Carpenter's attempt to cover a plot whole, unless... See next post...

  • April 12, 2011, 7:48 p.m. CST

    scratchmonkey, you raise a valid point...

    by kisskissbangbang this a plot hole or is it a clue offered by Carpenter that this isn't just a psychopath, but something more? I thought of this, too, after that third viewing when I first really mulled it over. But the only other sign he's something more is his apparent invulnerability at the end and, perhaps, his skill at disappearing. If he really is The Boogeyman or some ancient Samhain spirit, then everything about Michael is simply misdirection. But the other movies (and I haven't seen them since they weren't directed by Carpenter, but I know a little bit about them; feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) make Laurie his sister, and his fascination with her seems to reflect his personal situation. And if he knows how to drive without being taught, why does he follow her around instead of just knowing where she is? Why doesn't he just pass through the walls of the institute instead of using the car? Is he Michael, The Boogeyman, or an amalgam of both? These questions aren't answered as they might be in the Exorcist, say, because it'd ruin the surprise of the ending. And I'm not sure the others count as canon anyway (doesn't he get "killed" in some of them?). I find this all a bit unsatisfying, as I generally find characters with ill-defined powers a little overconvenient for the writer and not playing fair with the viewer. But speculation can be fun, and I can't deny the power of the film. Any further thoughts?

  • ...something like the Judge in Buffy not having a clue about the damage a bazooka can do. But that, of course, would make it a completely different movie. Still a fun idea, though, I think.

  • April 12, 2011, 7:55 p.m. CST

    It's ok, ace of wands...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...been there myself.

  • April 12, 2011, 8:03 p.m. CST

    gozu, I'm glad we're more in synch now on Carpenter...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...and there is some great stuff in Prince of Darkness. I think I'd agree with what you highlighted, and add my appreciation for a filmmaker who knows enough about quantum mechanics to see the potential for wringing cosmic horror out of it. Therefore my reference to Kneale and Lovecraft. It has a rare attempt at some philosophical depth for a horror movie, and I've got to respect that. Maybe I should revisit it, too. Sorry for posting so much, just trying to catch up after spending the day away at work.

  • April 13, 2011, 10:44 a.m. CST

    Who are the faggots who piss on ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and THEY LIVE?

    by AsimovLives

    It's not the movie that's not good, you stupid assholes, it's you who are not good enough for them. You can shove your "it's my preference" bullshit excuse up in the rewind. Your preferences doesn't excuse your bad taste in movies. Deal with it. Jesus, some people!

  • April 13, 2011, 8:02 p.m. CST

    Gee, asi, not long ago you called me a friend...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...and you praised me for defending Tron: Legacy. Easy come, easy go... Actually, I said the rest of Escape doesn't live up to its set-up. and the fight in They Live goes on too long, which isn't quite pissing on them. Above, while discussing them, I said They was good, not great, and I'll say the same about Escape. But I've gradually realized that around here, this is heresy of the deepest dye, although apparently it's allowed to hate Ghosts of Mars, so I'm in the clear there. Can't stay to defend myself, but the post to gozu immediately above yours should clarify my views on Carpenter. Still a little startled by your ferocity, given the good times we've had; you'd think I'd defended Abrams' Star Trek...

  • April 14, 2011, 5:01 p.m. CST

    asi you ass shut your ignorant mouth with your 'faggot' bullshit

    by Smack_Teddy

    it makes you worse than the folk your ripping on automatically