Film & Water #96 – They Live


Episode 96: THEY LIVE

Rob welcomes Paul Hix (WAITING FOR DOOM) to put on some sunglasses and discuss John Carpenter's 1988 classic THEY LIVE!

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10 responses to “Film & Water #96 – They Live

  1. Great discussion guys. I saw this when it first came to video, and it was an instant hit with me and my friends. Even though I was only 13 or 14 when I saw it, I still got the gist of the message here. It’s very sad that it’s more relevant now than ever. I think 20 years of reality TV dumbed down the populace more than these subliminal messages ever could.

    I do agree that the gritty, street-level feel of the movie works to it’s advantage. Movies like this and Robocop seemed dangerous. There was enough artistic flair there to let you know it was made by great filmmakers, but the lack of funding put the film on the side of Piper and his resistance movement. So it all just fit.

    I really liked Piper in this, which is surprising because I grew up booing that guy on wrestling. And what’s wrestling but acting? I’m kind of surprised Piper didn’t have a better acting career honestly, if for nothing more than that famous line. Hell, other actors have made careers out of one liners and muscles, why not him?


  2. Top 3 Carpenters for sure.

    It starts off slow, and you might think of giving up during the first act. The unfolding mystery seems padded by Roddy’s long walks through slums, but this is all part of the point. Once he has his epiphany and the ability to see the truth, he becomes a violent 80s action hero, that violence tempered by Carpenter’s wry sense of humor. If you were a bystander in this story, it would be a dark and upsetting tragedy. In Roddy’s head like we are, it becomes an absurdist comedy, though one with a very real message about the proverbial opiate of the masses. By the time you reach the improvised 9-minute fight, you’ll have completely forgotten that dull-ish first act. This thing’s even more relevant today than when it was made at the tail end of the Reagan era!

  3. Were you guys intentionally not mentioning HALLOWEEN? Rob discussed Carpenter’s string of movies in the ’80s, but never included the ultimate teen slasher film that came out in 1978, ten years before THEY LIVE. At the end Paul started to talk about his favorite Carpenter movies and once you guys hit THE THING it was like you forgot everything else. I listened, thinking, “Are they avoiding HALLOWEEN on purpose?”

    All that aside, great episode. Fun discussion, even though it made me more and more depressed as it went along.

    1. Yes, Anj is right–I didn’t mention Halloween because it came BEFORE Ronald Reagan’s ascension to the Presidency, which to me was the cut off point worth considering. As we mentioned on the show, TL was Carpenter’s response to the change in the country he saw under Reagan, so to me Halloween was irrelevant.

  4. I think Halloween was left out because it was made in the 70s.

    I am sure plenty of people have asked to guest when you cover The Thing, Rob. But I’m still throwing my hat in the ring.

    I love They Live. Saw when I wa in college, the perfect time to see this sort of film. The message of being lured into complacency and conformity by the media hit home then and even more now as we all sit in front of phones tweeting away. And yes, Robocop and Troopers would be a great trilogy. I’d buy that for a dollar.

    I love Big Trouble. I love Mouth of Madness, I love Escape from NY. But I really really love Prince of Darkness. Hope they all get covered.

    1. Anj-

      Yes, THE THING deserves a roundtable. It’s too awesome for me to risk not getting it considered from every possible angle!

      Haven’t seen POD in a long time, need to revisit it.

      1. So much to love In PoD. Scientists take on Satan! Crazy time visions! Alice Copper kills Thom Bray!

        ‘I have a message for you.
        You’re not going to like it.
        Pray for death!’


        1. Prince of Darkness legitimately scared me. This was after years of watching some of the goriest splatter fests you can imagine. Very disturbing.

          The Thing was the first REAL horror film I ever watched, around age 9 or so. Talk about ripping off that Band-Aid!!! Nightmare fuel.


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