Ain't It Cool News (www.aintitcool.com)
Movie News

Terry Malloy Casts His Vote For THEY LIVE On Blu-ray!!

 

 

 

What’s up, Contenders? Terry Malloy here reporting live from the Waterfront.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Brother, life’s a bitch. And she’s back in heat.” – John Nada, THEY LIVE

 

 

I can pretty safely say that John Carpenter is my favorite director. I’ve seen all of his major feature films, through thick and thin. I can’t defend them all, but nobody matches Carpenter in the 1980s. Every single pairing between Carpenter and Kurt Russell is hugely re-watchable. His style and voice match up perfectly with my tastes. That said, in spite of being a HUGE Carpenter fan, his action and sci-fi films have always been more my speed than his horror entries. And THEY LIVE, in my opinion, is the last full on slice of greatness in Carpenter’s filmography. Although, who knows, maybe he has another one left in him! 

 

I first saw THEY LIVE as a pretty young man, and my introduction to the film came through hearing about the infamous 6-minute fight scene between Roddy Piper and Keith David.

 

 

 

At that point I saw the movie as a bizarre story starring a wrestler-turned-actor finding a pair of magic sunglasses and discovering an evil plot by aliens living among us. It was practically comedy to me, complete with great one-liners and a bizarre premise. I wanted to show it to friends because I loved it, but also because it was just SO out there.

 

But over the years I realized that all of the up front, in your face elements of the movie were simply Carpenter’s way of telling a marketable story that exposed his own anger at the economic policies of Ronald Reagan and the state of the country at that particular time. THEY LIVE is primarily a message movie, and as a not-so-bright young man, I kind of missed that. I was hugely entertained from the first watch, but today the film cuts a little deeper, with more of a satirical bite and some moments of almost chilling prophetic voice. 

 

From a message perspective, the aliens that are revealed to be occupying the earth have already taken over. They are our ruling class and we are their cattle. While they live high on the hog here on earth, they slip us subliminal messages to keep us in line and to allow their total takeover to reach its completion.

 

 

 

Carpenter’s dissatisfaction with the trickle down theory of economics is quite clear to anyone who wants to see it.

 

Let’s be right up front: THEY LIVE works best when weighing both approaches to the film equally. You need to have a good time at the movies, or the message probably won’t sink in. But the message can’t beat you over the head, or else you’ll just roll your eyes. I think THEY LIVE is kind of a fascinating hybrid of great genre elements and effective issue-based story telling. If all you ever see is a big lunk of a wrestler, chewing bubble gum and kicking ass, you’ll still have a blast with this movie. But you may have trouble if all you are looking for is biting social commentary and can’t get past the genre elements.

 

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s role in the film is still one of much debate among fans. Some say that if Carpenter had gone with a “real” actor, THEY LIVE would’ve had less of a “stunt casting” feel to it and maybe would have aged more gracefully.

 

 

 

And I hear that argument. Piper didn’t necessarily go on to become a major headlining action film star. But I would argue that, while Piper clearly offers some flat lines of dialog, he brings a lot to the film that simply wouldn’t be there with another actor. Piper brings a rough and tumble, blue-collar feel to the story, which is exactly why Carpenter cast him. So no Roddy Piper, no epic alleyway fight sequence. Not to mention the hysterical one-liners that only a pro-wrestler can really pull off. If a serious actor had offered up the infamous bubble gum quote, there is no way it would have resonated the way it did with Piper saying it. 

 

 “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubblegum...”

 

And I’m sure the political messages of the film are, to some, either points of contention, or a little too overt. For me, the messages of the film actually give me goosebumps to this day. I love the “message” elements of the movie as much, if not more than, the overt action. Watching this blu-ray allowed me to still frame each magazine and newspaper headline in order to see what hidden messages the occupying aliens were feeding to the unwitting masses. A lot of time and effort clearly went into building the world that only “wearers of the sunglasses” can see. “DO NOT QUESTION AUTHORITY”, “Buy”, “Marry and Reproduce”, “Obey”, “Sleep”. It seems to me that the social commentary of THEY LIVE can actually applies to far more than just a response to Reagan-era policies. 

 

 

 

Anywhere where the strong are attempting to suppress the weak; in any society where propaganda is the norm and truth is kept under wraps; all who would pull the wool over the eyes of the masses should beware the wrath of Rowdy Roddy Piper!

 

 

 

THE PACKAGE

 

I had the opportunity to watch this Blu on a friends home theater system, and all of us who watched it felt it was of spectacular quality. Roddy Piper’s mullet and Meg Foster’s hypnotic green eyes have never looked so good. Shout Factory has done an excellent job with the image quality of THEY LIVE and I can’t imagine the movie every having looked better.

 

On top of that, you’ve got a pretty deluxe package all around. Even starting with the package itself, Shout Factory commissioned some amazing throwback cover art for the box, and, in a stroke of genius, slapped a “Buy” stick on the front. Touches like that go a long way for fans like me who want their home video ownership to be something special. 

 

The disc has a bunch of fun extras, including a lively commentary track with Carpenter and Piper palling around. You’ve also got some great interviews and BTS stuff with Carpenter, Meg Foster, and Keith David. 

 

What all of this boils down to, is that THEY LIVE has arrived, on glorious Blu-ray, treated with the love it deserves. For fans of genre cinema, it doesn’t get much better than this. 

 

 

 

And I’m Out.

 

Terry Malloy AKA Ed Travis

 

 

 

 Twitter

 

 Email

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • Nov. 6, 2012, 12:19 p.m. CST

    First

    by Art

    Good movie, gets better

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 12:21 p.m. CST

    Body bags also fun

    by Art

    hope someday see the blue light

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 12:21 p.m. CST

    Just a great B sci fi/horror movie.

    by Taragor

    And yes Meg's eyes are hypnotic. Even as a kid I was blown away by them. I always thought it was a camera trick.

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 12:22 p.m. CST

    and that ending...."hey baby, what's wrong"

    by Taragor

    Classic........one of the best endings ever!

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 12:27 p.m. CST

    Is it 2:35 to 1 format?

    by Sackratte

    Amazon shows 1.85 to 1... which format is the film? It should be 2:35 to 1, right?

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 12:28 p.m. CST

    Typical Carpenter - great idea, terrible movie.

    by Raptor Jesus

    Awful, just awful from beginning to end. And that ridiculous, pointless, story-killing six minute fight scene - good God.

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 12:36 p.m. CST

    I don't recognize this site anymore

    by DrGogol

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 12:40 p.m. CST

    Aint It Blogspot News

    by Logan_1973

    This does NOT make up for the defunct DVD column. Nice try fellas.

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 1:10 p.m. CST

    Meg Foster

    by Horrorfanatic

    Come on, green eyes, really? As a horny teen that found this woman absolutely gorgeous back in the day, her eyes are BLUE!!! Very pale, epically sexy blue. Other than that, this was a great movie.

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 1:15 p.m. CST

    sackratte

    by Robert Evans

    its 2.35:1 enjoy!

  • Go fuck yourself, Dematard.

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 1:41 p.m. CST

    kildeer

    by Robert Evans

    whats even crazier is the film came out today on BluRay... fucking freaky man.

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 1:43 p.m. CST

    killdeer1

    by John Ary

    Perhaps the fact that it officially released today on Blu-ray for the first time had something to do with his timing?

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 1:43 p.m. CST

    @killdeer1: What Choppah said. The Blu-ray releases today!

    by Ed Travis

    And they very intentionally released the film this week, which I think is kind of fun!

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 1:59 p.m. CST

    CRIPPLE FIGHT!

    by mooli_mooli

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 2:15 p.m. CST

    ^^^accept^^^

    by art123guy

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 2:25 p.m. CST

    We still sleep.

    by Gary Makin

  • Piper's the best! And such an awesome movie. I'm waiting on my bluray, thanks for the review, now I'm even more psyched. Mine's coming with a poster! A POSTER!

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 3:56 p.m. CST

    raptor_jesus: just change your name to douchebag_troll

    by seagrass

    and turn in your geek card. Hating on They Live?? FOR SHAME.

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 3:56 p.m. CST

    bluebottle: WHERE DID YOU GET A POSTER??

    by seagrass

    I didn't see that offer anywhere!!!

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 4 p.m. CST

    I was 12 when I saw this in the theater.

    by NOBLOODNODALLAS

    A messy divorce of parents has its benefits. I could guilt my mom into taking me to anything. And she did. Including this. Fucking awsome. On a side note, I'm pretty sure her eyes are blue. Crazy Crazy blue.

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 4:01 p.m. CST

    Re: aspect ratio (for sackratte)

    by seagrass

    According to Dvdtalk and Hi Def Digest, the aspect ratio is 2:35:1.----http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/57534/they-live/ -----http://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3533/theylive.html

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 4:03 p.m. CST

    I believe the "horrible cover art" is reversible

    by seagrass

    although I haven't gotten mine yet so I cant confirm what's on the reverse. Check it here: http://www.shocktillyoudrop.com/news/168925-scream-factory-reveals-art-details-for-they-live-special-edition

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 4:04 p.m. CST

    Like someone already said, great idea, terrible movie

    by Monroville

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, the one liners are pretty funny... but this could and should have been sooo much better. And while I can respect it as a flip side to INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS... didn't John do this to make a profit? "From a message perspective, the aliens that are revealed to be occupying the earth have already taken over. They are our ruling class and we are their cattle. While they live high on the hog here on earth, they slip us subliminal messages to keep us in line and to allow their total takeover to reach its completion. And I’m sure the political messages of the film are, to some, either points of contention, or a little too overt. For me, the messages of the film actually give me goosebumps to this day. I love the “message” elements of the movie as much, if not more than, the overt action. Watching this blu-ray allowed me to still frame each magazine and newspaper headline in order to see what hidden messages the occupying aliens were feeding to the unwitting masses. A lot of time and effort clearly went into building the world that only “wearers of the sunglasses” can see. “DO NOT QUESTION AUTHORITY”, “Buy”, “Marry and Reproduce”, “Obey”, “Sleep”. It seems to me that the social commentary of THEY LIVE can actually applies to far more than just a response to Reagan-era policies." As people (mostly democrats) suffer in the 10s of 1000s in New Jersey and New York due to the incompetence of the democrat union-controlled system, and the President continues to side-step his responsibility in the Fast and Furious gun running, the rape/murder of 4 Americans that could have been saved days before and generally selling the entire country out to his .1%er friends (George Soros' $2 billion gift to drill for oil off Brazil as Obama shut down most oil related jobs in the Gulf area comes to mind) and yet 50% of the population is STILL going to vote for him simply because he's black. Yeah, I think THEY LIVE is still pretty prescient.

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 4:04 p.m. CST

    Nevermind, bluebottle

    by seagrass

    answered my own question.

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 4:51 p.m. CST

    This Blu-ray is quite good.

    by justmyluck

    Excellent transfer and, even though the well-done featurettes are around ten minutes each, they feel the right length. The only drawback to the disc is no chapter menu, and very few chapters. Great to see so much of THEY LIVE's talent pitching in for the extras, and you'll love Carpenter's reaction when asked whether he ever thought about cutting down the big fight.

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 5:09 p.m. CST

    Yes to this film

    by Monnie Knapp

    Roddy Piper's best work since Hell Comes to Frogtown.

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 5:22 p.m. CST

    Never once did I find Piper's performance lacking or "flat"

    by MooseMalloy

    Nor have I ever heard anyone call it that.

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 5:43 p.m. CST

    I also have never heard gripes about Piper until now.

    by adeceasedfan

    A classic in my circle of action hounds. They Live hit me at a time (13-14) when I started seeing that the world wasn't exactly what I was always told. They Live coupled with music such as Metallica's And Justice For All certainly informed my teenage years.

  • Despite what some people might think about pro wrestlers, or sport entertainers, whichever term you prefer, "actors" are EXACTLY what wrestlers are. Think about it: They assume character names, perform action and dialogue that has been pre-written and pre-arranged, and they get a live crowd to applaud and respond to their actions every night. Sure sounds like acting to me! If not, what exactly is going on in buildings such as Radio City Music Hall and many other theateres on Broadway and across the country. Are those not people performing pre rehearsed action and dialouge? Is that not acting? But no, say the naysayers, that's REAL acting! It's ART! Wow, last time I checked, "art" was in the eye of the beholder. If "art" were to be determined by one, and ONLY one segment of people, then persons such as Michael Bay would be buffing floors and shining shoes, and not making films. But I digress. So, yes, Roddy Piper IS an actor. He's an actor who up until they lived had performed only in a live venue setting, but he was an actor nonetheless, and a damned good one at that. And for those of you who want to turn your nose up at pro wrestling, take a good hard look at pretty much any night of the week on television, and look at the glut of "reality shows", singing (actuallly karaoke) competitions, and countless "talk" and "court" shows that infest the airwaves by day and night. Are you sure you want to damn pro wrestling in the face of such...nonsense...cluttering up the broadcast and cable networks? People who live in glass houses and all that... Troll out!

  • Nov. 6, 2012, 9:16 p.m. CST

    @iamatroll

    by MrLongbaugh

    Well said!!

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 2 a.m. CST

    @iamatroll

    by Ryan N

    Perfectly well stated. Cheers!

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 3:26 a.m. CST

    What is the deal with John Carpenter and green-eyed ladies?

    by lv_426

    Or maybe I should be asking a different question. What if the aliens in They Live aren't space aliens as we think, but beings from an alternate dark universe? Maybe the same dark universe that the crazy supernatural stuff from Big Trouble In Little China comes from. Or perhaps Lo Pan and his dark forces are of extraterrestrial origin? Then of course there is Prince of Darkness, which might fit into all this in some way. How awesome would it be if a sequel to They Live kicked off with Jack Burton and The Pork Chop Express rolling into town? Perhaps Jack stops for some chow and his sunglasses get mixed up with those of another patron at the diner? Jack steps outside and puts on the shades...

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 5:10 a.m. CST

    Anyone else have the Italian Blu-ray release?

    by Geoff Clingan

    Scored it on eBay a while back. Quality is good, accompanying booklet is in Italian. I can't read Italian. Luckily the original English track is selectable. Going to have to double dip and get the new release for the commentary. Carpenter's commentaries are pretty good. Highly recommended for film fans. Informative, honest and never any dead air.

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 6:23 a.m. CST

    UK RELEASE PLEASE!

    by Lampers

    Stupid region-locked discs, what is this? The 90s?

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 7 a.m. CST

    Its a classic!

    by Kakii

    Love this film, I'd half forgotten about it until the Blu Ray hype abut it appeared. Only one problem, theres no UK release date!! I hope its region free and amazon UK start stocking it.

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 7:29 a.m. CST

    re: "I hope its region free"

    by buggerbugger

    It's not. Shout Factory's Blu-rays are apparently region-locked. It's a pain in the arse.

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 8:29 a.m. CST

    Wrestlers are not actors

    by Autodidact

    Wrestling fans... LOL.

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 8:41 a.m. CST

    Wrestling doesn't have stories either

    by Autodidact

    You fucking retards. "I'm gonna beat you up because you think you can beat me up" is not a story.

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 9:32 a.m. CST

    From 1976 to 1988, John Carpenter could do no wrong.

    by Kevin D

    A strong case could be made that Carpenter is the greatest genre filmmaker of all time. I completely agree with this review of "They Live" and also about why the movie wouldn't have worked nearly as well if they had gone with a real actor at the time instead of a pro wrestler. This movie works on so many levels which along with its on the surface success in just trying to entertain make its infinitely rewatchable.

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 10:14 a.m. CST

    The Fight

    by Glenn

    I've had this happen three times in my life. I'm at a thing (party, bar, gathering, what-have-you), and a guy proposes something like the best car chase or fight. Inevitably, I guess "They Live" and the guy high-fives me. It's like that unspoken word of machismo that the ten minute fight scene is the best over the top fight scene ever. It's long on purpose and it's friggin' hilarious. Oh yeah, I was going to film school at the time. William Friedkin came to show a new print of Sorcerer and said at a private party after that he'd seen the new John Carpenter film "Prince of Darkness" -- he thought it was pretty bad. He also went on to say that ET was probably the best film ever made and that the new Rambo III was good high-tech action. Never did get to ask him what he thought of Carpenter in general.

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 11:18 a.m. CST

    ^ TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA

    by Autodidact

    Must be mentioned whenever Friedkin's name comes up. Such an stylish action movie, gotta be my favourite non sci-fi, non fantasy, not-Batman of the 80s.

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 11:31 a.m. CST

    To Live and Die in LA

    by Glenn

    Agreed. Such a downer, but dark as night and beautifully made. Breaks virtually all the Hollywood rules.

  • Right off the bat, autodidact, let me be clear that i acknowledge your right and entitlement to like or dislike anything you want. Wrestling's not your cup of tea? No problem. I don't care for UFC or Chris Nolan movies, but I get it that there is a large segment of people who do. Fair enough. Different strokes for different folks and all that. However, and this is almost 32 years of being a die hard wrestling fan talking here, to say that wrestlers are not actors and that there are no stories in wrestling is a falsehood, and here's why: As I made abundantly clear in my earlier post, pro wrestling, aka "sports entertainment" is ALL about acting: acting tough, acting hurt, pantomiming combat. More to the point, you claim there are no "stories" in wrestling. Au contraire! In pro wrestling, it is ALL about telling a story, only you are telling a story WITH YOUR BODY. From the time you come out from behind the curtain, go to the wring, put on your performance, and then return to the backstage area behind the curtain, it is NOTHING BUT TELLING A STORY WITH YOUR BODY. Why is this storytelling? Because you are getting the audience to be emotionally involved in what you do, what happens to you and how you react to what happens to you. It is no different then watching Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris slug it out in "Way of the Dragon", or watching Batman go one on one with the Joker. It's all about physical presentation garnered to evoke an emotional response from the audience, be they in a movie theater or at Madison Square Garden. Furthermore, you say there are no "stories" in pro wrestling. I put it to you, sir, that some of the greatest stories ever told have come in the form of wrestling storylines. If you don't believe me, ask any one of the over 93,000 people who packed the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit, MI for Wrestlemania III. Why were all these people there to watch wrestling? Could it be that the prospect of seeing Hulk Hogan try to do what no man had ever done before, that being to defeat the then undefeated Andre The Giant? Fifteen years without a loss was one hell of a record to break, and everyone wanted to watch. For the record, that 93,000 I quoted set a North American indoor attendance record at the time. And that's just one case of people wanting to see a GOOD STORY. I could also tell you about the infamous "Montreal screwjob", the Stone Cold vs. The Rock showdown at Wrestlemania 17 and many others, but I'm pretty sure you get my point. Again, I'm not going to badmouth you if wrestling's not your thing, it doesn't matter to me. But it would behoove you to understand what you're talking about before you make a comment online for all the world to see. Just sayin... Have a great day!

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 1:45 p.m. CST

    They live

    by sengoksa

    I suspect no one under 40 gets how Good this film actually is... They live Escape from precinct 13 The thing Escape from New York Halloween Carpenter made iconic films.. And the main reason they work is always the soundtrack...

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 1:46 p.m. CST

    oh and

    by sengoksa

    I have a soft spot for prince of darkness....

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 2:29 p.m. CST

    You don't know what acting or a story is.

    by Autodidact

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 2:30 p.m. CST

    Stage fighting != Acting

    by Autodidact

    Redneck psychotic histronic ravings ad-libbed into a microphone aren't acting either.

  • If I say "that's not food" to someone who loves KFC, they will beg to differ, explaining to me a hundred different ways all the parallels between KFC's food bowl and actual meals that people would want to eat. But anyone with good taste would agree with me: Wrestling is to acting as KFC food bowls are to food.

  • Redneck, eh? I think you're confusing pro wrestling with NASCAR, my befuddled friend. Get your insults straight if you're going to hurl them. Beyond that, it's apparent you're only looking to fight and not discuss. Sorry, I'm not feeding you. Ironic, don't you think, that I'M the one with the word TROLL in his username, and yet YOU are the one doing the trolling? Oh well, I guess you're proof of the addage, "Better to be silent and only be thought a fool then to speak and prove that you are." You're dismissed. Troll out!

  • LOL

  • As it stands your take on irony is on par with your take on acting, story, NASCAR/rednecks, etc.

  • TL:DR

  • TL;DR

  • TL;DR

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 4:11 p.m. CST

    Really? I could swear you read all of it.

    by Autodidact

    I'm not trying to insult wrestling man. I can appreciate big spots, good sells, big crowd pops, etc. What I was saying is that wrestling is not acting the way acting in a movie is acting. When you say that it is, you are taking away from the achievement of the few wrestlers who actually can _act_ convincingly on screen. Rowdy Roddy Piper in THEY LIVE is adding wrestling skills *on top* of his acting skills, which go far beyond the level required for mic promos and ring performance.

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Really? I could swear you read all of it.

    by iamatroll

    TL;DR

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 8:25 p.m. CST

    God i need to get a blu ray player

    by Stephen

    I just wrote a report on this movie for a community college class.

  • Nov. 7, 2012, 9:48 p.m. CST

    Something needed with dvd,...

    by Jay

    Glasses! That would have been so sweet getting a pair of those sunglasses with the purchase of the dvd. Why didn't they think of it? Great movie and still holds up! I'm watching it now and loving it XP

  • Fact.

  • Nov. 8, 2012, 4:04 a.m. CST

    @bieber_fett

    by Neil Harrison

    Yeah, I've got that Italian bd. According to techie types the print is far superior to this new bd (which has had dnr & then sharpening applied). Shame that it's not quite the full OAR but I can live with that since it provides a more 'filmic' viewing experience.

  • Nov. 8, 2012, 4:06 a.m. CST

    @lampers

    by Neil Harrison

    The Italian bd is your friend.

  • Capitalism has benefited him so much that he has apparently lost the will to make real significant movies anymore. He just sits around smoking and watching basketball....and looking like the Crypt Keeper. I do love him though. Which is all the more frustrating.

  • Nov. 8, 2012, 2:29 p.m. CST

    btw

    by Neil Harrison

    I'm still amused by the post which attacked Obama. Perhaps if Romney got in, Carpenter may have made a They Live 2. It's almost a shame.