Directed by John Carpenter
Produced by Larry Franco
Screenplay by Frank Armitage
Photography by Gary B. Kibbe
Music by John Carpenter & Alan Howarth
Cast: Roddy Pipper, Keith David & Meg Foster
1988/94 mins/Color/2.0 DD
2.35:1 anamorphic/English/USA/PAL Region 2
Review from the Kinowelt DVD
John Nada ("Rowdy" Roddy Piper) is a laid-off factory worker who wanders through the often-surrealistic urban landscape of downtown Los Angeles as the title credits roll by. John quickly gets a small job working at a construction site and one of his fellow workers (Keith David) shows him a nice soup kitchen and homeless shelter where he can crash. Things are looking up, but suddenly reality crashes down; the shelter along with a nearby church is in actuality a front for a resistance movement who seek to bring down a breed of inter-galactic goons who have taken over the world by subliminally-imprisoning most people and paying off the rest. The only way you can see the aliens in all their hideous glory is to try on a pair of special sunglasses which break through the hypnotic signal and show the world as it really is: a black and white world full of odd slogans and instructions. John teams together with remnants of the human resistance in order to find the source of the mind-controlling signal and destroy it, but along the way he manages to shoot some ETs, get in a wrestling match or two and spout some of the cheesiest one-liners ever.
Like most of Carpenter's movies, there is an underlying social theme and THEY LIVE is no exception. In fact, it's probably his most blatant. Focusing on the plight of the homeless, the economic hard times of the 80's, uncaring authorities, greed, selling out for the good life (everyone does it and everyone wants it), and consumerism.
The transfer to disc is excellent in all aspects but for one exception. On THEY LIVE and on THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS (both from the same company), there is a slight moire effect with some lighted office buildings in the distance during some of the night scenes. While not distracting, they are there and is likely the fault of the DVD encoders. While the sound is 2.0 stereo, it surely would have benefitted from a 5.1 remix. But, it's fine in any event.
Not much in the way of supplemental material with a short making of... featurette but does have a full length audio commentary with John Carpenter and Roddy Piper that is well worth listening to. There is no trailer and no ROM material. The packaging is the usual keep case with some decent cover art but has no insert or booklet. The screen menus are adequate but nothing special.
Social issues aside, THEY LIVE is a rollicking sci-Fi/action adventure that is a beloved cult classic. To finally see this in its original widescreen OAR glory is a real treat. Unbeknownst to me, this was Piper's 25th appearance in motion pictures and he is really at ease in front of the camera delivering some credible acting. Keith David, as always, shines and his participation makes this little gem all the better. If you are fortunate enough to have a region-free DVD player, THEY LIVE, along with THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS, are two movies that are must-haves especially since it is highly unlikely that they will ever be revisited in region one. Highly recommended.
This Film Features:
Review by Brad Vautrinot. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©
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