They Live

1988 / d. John Carpenter
I have come here to kick ass and chew bubblegum… and I’m all out of bubblegum.” Although today’s generation generally attributes that line of pure badassery to Duke Nukem, it was Roddy Piper who first popularized the phrase in THEY LIVE: a b-movie in the truest sense, which serves up heaping bowls of social commentary but without (as mentioned) even the slightest trace of bubblegum. We know John Carpenter is capable of creating memorable, serious, visually haunting films (HALLOWEEN, THE THING, THE FOG, etc)… but much the same as with his previous 1987 jaunt, PRINCE OF DARKNESS, the film falls short of being a Carpenter classic. The pacing is slow, the dialogue ridiculous; it’s camp, not serious horror for serious horror fans. Still, for all its obvious faults, it’s chock full of great quotes (“I’m giving you a choice: either put on these glasses or start eatin’ that trash can”) and the creatures are unquestionably iconic. Unfortunately, the real shreds of Carpenter brilliance are nestled away in a hodgepodge of sillyness and overacting.