I usually approach any film starring a professional wrestler (retired or otherwise) with rightful skepticism. However, I must admit that Roddy Piper was well cast opposite Keith David as a pair of brawny, down-on-their-luck construction workers who come across evidence of a pervasive, widespread alien invasion and a grassroots terrorist resistance movement opposed to it.
While the social commentary of this movie's script (very loosely adapted by Carpenter from Ray Nelson's clever short story Eight O'Clock in the Morning) is a bit heavy-handed from time to time, it adequately expresses the frustrations of the victimized working class of the 1980s and the destructive excesses of corporate culture. A particularly clever plot element is the alien invasion in the context of a venture enterprise, a sort of market-driven intergalactic imperialism implemented through class warfare. The omnipresence of the space aliens' identity and propaganda are also conveyed (and undermined) in a very inventive manner.
For those who could care less about this movie's satirical aspects, there's plenty of action to be found here: gunfights galore, a high body count and a famously hilarious, vicious, groin-crunching five-minute fistfight between the two leads. While this is unique among Carpenter's films in that it actually inspires some thought, his usual violent plot twists and macho slogans are intact.
Geek trivia: you don't have to look close to notice that the communicators that the guards in the radio station and underground network use were once the P.K.E. meters from Ghostbusters. It's always nice to see a familiar prop recycled to good use!
They Live is another classic science fiction-action film from John Carpenter. The eighties were a great time for this legendary film maker. Some of his best work was made during this era. Professional Wrestler Roddy Piper stars as Nada, a homeless day laborer who becomes a hero by accident. Keith David co-stars as his running buddy. Earth has been slowly invaded by aliens under the guise of conservative Reganites. They have repressed the have nots and corrupted those who … more