Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

What if all everyday packaging was in fact just a smokescreen for instructions you didn’t know you were already obeying?

Such is the brilliant middle of THEY LIVE - a John Carpenter sf/horror from 1988 – which as you might gather starts and ends in rather less awesome fashion.

What this roughly-made film really boasts though is a style so pedestrian that it borderlines on dull. That’s not a criticism though. While I couldn’t connect with the lead character – particularly his inability to think things through (something the writers also seemed to suffer from) – it was thoroughly refreshing to watch a film that didn’t try to rush through everything as quickly as possible, for fear of losing viewer-interest.

That sequence in the middle where Nada sees the world properly for the first time really was captivating, if, again, not thought through. (the technique that hides the subliminal messages should also subliminally tell us who is an alien)

Also, at one point our heroes use an alien watch to transport themselves into a mysterious tunnel the aliens are using.

I assumed they were under the city, until I saw the starfield and realised they were on the alien saucer.

Until it turned out they were in a building. Whu...?

Also, the over-long street-fight in the middle suggested strongly that this director really didn’t care about losing impatient audience-members. We were (I hope) getting the film that he wanted to make. The sudden ending, too, seemed to confirm this.

Rough, disjointed, slow... but from a director free to tell his own story in his own way. Go Carpenter.

Even if in the Making Of documentary afterwards, he did come out with:

“All of my films in one way or the other are about people who are trapped in situations where they are no longer able to control what’s going to happen to them, or where they are, or what they’re up against... The heroes are people who must rise to the occasion and face either ultimate evil or something that is so extraordinary and outside the realm of their experience, but through it they show great dignity and warmth and character.”

Really? I thought it was about a muscleman blasting aliens to bits...


2 comment(s):

At 3:55 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came to chew bubblegum and read your blog... and I'm all out of bubblegum

At 7:36 pm, Blogger Steve Goble said...

I've got one that can read!


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