the colonial theatre marquee

They Live

Directed by John Carpenter. US. 1988. R. 93 minutes. Universal. 35mm.
Fri., January 18, 2013

“Underrated Carpenter movie about the Reagan years. Roddy Piper plays the working class loner who wanders into town and happens to discover a box of special sunglasses belonging to some sort of mysterious underground resistance group. Then he puts on the glasses and walks around town he sees the sinister truth beneath the surface: billboards have subliminal slogans like “MATE, SPAWN AND DIE” or “OBEY;” money says “I AM YOUR GOD;” and all the yuppies, cops and ladies in fur coats have skeletal alien faces.

It’s a great gimmick and Piper has some classic one-liners (which he claims to have ad libbed). The film is infamous for Piper’s protracted street wrestling scene with Keith David, which was intended to unseat “The Quiet Man” as the film with the longest uninterrupted fight scene. What most people miss is its spot-on symbolism. All Piper wants David to do is put on the glasses and see what’s going on in the world; this is how far we will go to not know the truth.” (Brian Theiss, The Scarecrow Video Movie Guide)