Jump to content


Photo

They Live (1988)

John Carpenter

  • Please log in to reply
12 replies to this topic

#1 Christian

Christian

    Member

  • Moderator
  • 10,703 posts

Posted 11 December 2010 - 05:15 PM

We don't appear to have a dedicated thread on this John Carpenter film. I recently added a post to the Jonathan Lethem thread in the Literature area addressing the author's new monograph on the film. I received the book yesterday and have started into it.

Not knowing that such a work was to be released, I now am kicking myself for not picking up a DVD copy of They Live that I saw at a yard sale a few months ago for a buck or two. Water under the bridge. But just now, looking for something to splurge on for very little money at Borders, it occured to me that I might buy a They Live DVD if, by chance, the store stocked it.

They do!

So I've just purchased a bare-bones widescreen edition of the film from Universal. No sooner did I make the decision to purchase it than I thought, "I wonder if there's a better Region 1 edition of this film?"

Is there? Does anyone know? (EDIT: IMDB shows a Region 2 edition, and an earlier [late 1990s] Region 1 edition from Image Entertainment. The film is also part of "The Carpenter Collection," which released in 2003 and which, I'm guessing, contains this tranfer for its DVD edition of They Live.)

If anyone wants to discuss the actual film, please do. I saw it during its original theatrical run, didn't think much of it, and haven't felt the need to revisit it. But, given my small investment in Lethem's monograph, I figured I'd double down (the DVD cost me the same amount that the book did) and obtain a copy of the film. Maybe my view as a 40-year-old will be different than my view was when I saw the film as a ... when was it released? 1989? I was 19. (The DVD box tells me only that the disc came out in 2003, which seems like a lifetime ago in video years -- and yet Borders had two copies in stock!)



#2 John Drew

John Drew

    A vast sponge of movie minutiae... - Jason Bortz

  • Member
  • 3,536 posts

Posted 11 December 2010 - 05:41 PM

I just watched most of it on AMC last night. It was funnier than I remembered. That back alley fight between Keith David and Roddy Piper is one for the record books! I kinda wish I'd seen it from the beginning, and without the commercial breaks. Maybe I'll Netflix it.

#3 Backrow Baptist

Backrow Baptist

    Member

  • Member
  • 322 posts

Posted 11 December 2010 - 08:45 PM

If anyone wants to discuss the actual film, please do. I saw it during its original theatrical run, didn't think much of it, and haven't felt the need to revisit it. But, given my small investment in Letham's monograph, I figured I'd double down (the DVD cost me the same amount that the book did) and obtain a copy of the film. Maybe my view as a 40-year-old will be different than my view was when I saw the film as a ... when was it released? 1989? I was 19. (The DVD box tells me only that the disc came out in 2003, which seems like a lifetime ago in video years -- and yet Borders had two copies in stock!)


I saw this when I was in high school in 89 or 90 on VHS at a friend's house. I will freely admit I probably wasn't mature enough to get it. I actually had a passing awareness of Carpenter. I had seen The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China. Thought I was in for a cool alien invasion action movie with They Live but I ended up feeling frustrated by it. I will say the epic back alley fist fight/ wrestling match is amazing. Southpark once did shot for shot remake of that scene if anyone want's to link it. There are some great lines by "Rowdy" Roddy Piper who was a big wrestling star at the time. "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. ... And I'm all out of bubble gum.".

But then towards the end Piper is running down a hallway with a machine gun and he shoots an alien, runs around a corner, shoots another alien, runs around another corner, shoots another alien, runs around another corner, .... and so on, I thought Carpenter was just being unintentionally sloppy. I'm sure there was a point to all that but it was lost on me.

Like I said, I'm sure was too young to get the satire about what Carpenter saw as the evils of yuppies, conformity, Ronald Reagan, or whatever. I haven't seen it since then so I'll have to revisit it sometime.

Edited by Backrow Baptist, 11 December 2010 - 09:58 PM.


#4 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,300 posts

Posted 11 December 2010 - 08:55 PM

Christian wrote:
: . . . when was it released? 1989?

November 4, 1988, according to the IMDb.

Heh. That was just before the election, wasn't it? The one where Bush beat Dukakis, that is. (Checking... checking... yup! The election was four days later.)

#5 Christian

Christian

    Member

  • Moderator
  • 10,703 posts

Posted 11 December 2010 - 09:57 PM

Christian wrote:
: . . . when was it released? 1989?

November 4, 1988, according to the IMDb.

Heh. That was just before the election, wasn't it? The one where Bush beat Dukakis, that is. (Checking... checking... yup! The election was four days later.)

Yup. Election day 1988 was my 18th birthday, meaning I got to vote in that election! (via absentee ballot, from Virginia Tech)

#6 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,300 posts

Posted 11 December 2010 - 11:37 PM

Christian wrote:
: Yup. Election day 1988 was my 18th birthday, meaning I got to vote in that election!

Heh. I turned 18 on October 1 of that year, and it was on that very day that Parliament was dissolved and a new election was called (which took place towards the end of November). So I had an electorally fortuitous birthday too. :)

#7 Christian

Christian

    Member

  • Moderator
  • 10,703 posts

Posted 12 December 2010 - 05:16 PM

It may be worth noting that I proudly cast that first vote for George Bush in 1988. I was a Republican then, and still am, which may explain my lack of enthusiams for They Live's politics.

#8 Russ

Russ

    Member

  • Member
  • 1,089 posts

Posted 13 December 2010 - 02:33 PM

I spent the night of the 1988 election at my dad's house playing STAR FRONTIERS with a couple of my 12th grade friends, and we didn't have to wrap it up early that night since the teachers were on strike.

And I have never seen THEY LIVE. Seriously.

#9 Christian

Christian

    Member

  • Moderator
  • 10,703 posts

Posted 01 January 2011 - 02:29 PM

I just watched most of it on AMC last night. It was funnier than I remembered. That back alley fight between Keith David and Roddy Piper is one for the record books! I kinda wish I'd seen it from the beginning, and without the commercial breaks. Maybe I'll Netflix it.

We watched the DVD last night, and had a blast! The movie is still ... not good. But the sequence Lethem writes about in detail -- after Nada puts on the sunglasses and walks through the city, seeing the aliens for the first time -- is as good as Lethem says it is. The fight scene is also as good as everyone says it is; Sarah howled with laughter through much of it, while I giggled and enjoyed the show.

The picture looked tacky to me. I'm not convinced this is good cinema. But it has some undeniable pleasures, and my estimation of the film went way up after last night's viewing.

#10 Thom Wade

Thom Wade

    Happy Go Lucky Meat Machine

  • Member
  • 2,949 posts

Posted 03 January 2011 - 08:33 AM

The picture looked tacky to me. I'm not convinced this is good cinema. But it has some undeniable pleasures, and my estimation of the film went way up after last night's viewing.


Carpenter has made flat out good films, absolute crap (most of his output from about 1997 on) films, and then there is They Live. It's not "good"... it's similar in tone at times to Big Trouble In Little China...yet it is to earnest in it's politics to be seen as just the fun and goofy romp that BTILC was. Carpenter meant for you to take the message in They Live seriously... so that forces They Live into the "so entertaining because it is so bad" camp.

#11 Christian

Christian

    Member

  • Moderator
  • 10,703 posts

Posted 03 January 2011 - 09:51 AM



The picture looked tacky to me. I'm not convinced this is good cinema. But it has some undeniable pleasures, and my estimation of the film went way up after last night's viewing.


Carpenter has made flat out good films, absolute crap (most of his output from about 1997 on) films, and then there is They Live. It's not "good"... it's similar in tone at times to Big Trouble In Little China...yet it is to earnest in it's politics to be seen as just the fun and goofy romp that BTILC was. Carpenter meant for you to take the message in They Live seriously... so that forces They Live into the "so entertaining because it is so bad" camp.

But the politics are dicey in They Live. Sure, Carpenter might have thought that the bad guys are Republicans, but Lethem claims, rightly I think, that the swipes at unions (and gays and women, to a lesser extent) don't exactly fit into a Leftist paradigm.

#12 NBooth

NBooth

    Magpie of Ideas

  • Member
  • 2,717 posts

Posted 30 September 2013 - 08:35 PM



#13 Ryan H.

Ryan H.

    Riding the crest of a wave breaking just west of Hollywood

  • Member
  • 5,370 posts

Posted 04 October 2013 - 10:31 PM

THEY LIVE is a masterpiece.