Tuesday 26 December 2023

Movie Review: They Live (1988)

Genre: Conspiracy Action
Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster
Running Time: 94 minutes

Synopsis: Drifter Nada (Roddy Piper) arrives in Los Angeles and befriends construction worker Frank (Keith David). While living in a tent city, Nada notices pirate television broadcasts attempting to issue warnings, as well as strange activity at a nearby church. He then stumbles upon sunglasses that reveal a conspiracy to control the masses while the wealthy collaborate with hideous aliens to exploit Earth. After an encounter with television station worker Holly (Meg Foster), Nada and Frank team-up to fight back.

What Works Well: This low-budget variation on themes from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers contains one classic line of dialogue and an effective (but overused) soundtrack by director John Carpenter. The aliens and their stark brainwashing posters cause an effective jolt when first revealed, while the conspiracy commentary threatens with devious subtlety.

Nada: I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum.

What Does Not Work As Well: The introduction is slow and the climax is bland, both exposing the limited budget and truncated narrative ambitions. The tiresome back-alley brawl between Nada and Frank goes on forever, either to consume running time or for the specific purpose of achieving notoriety. Once it kicks off, the action is of the unimaginative shotgun variety.

Conclusion: More bubblegum - and more substance - might have helped.

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