They Live (1988)
probably one of the most overlooked and underrated films by Carpenter yet possibly his most clever. All his own work and a quite beautiful look at how paranoia and fear within an ever decreasing economy can be exploited for a good story.
Now I'm not saying all Americans are suspicious conspiracy theory doom mongers but this film exposes that ever present trait whilst also scratching at the notion of constant gross consumer consumption, greed and subversive subliminal messages touching on hypnosis and domination.
To be honest the whole idea just shows how some Americans (including Carpenter) think most of the time, always looking over their shoulder and suspicious.
As for the film its a romp that just keeps going and you wanna know how it ends. The start is slow and dull, it takes time to get going but once 'Nada' finds the sunglasses of truth things get really interesting in a good way. I love how Carpenter made this film, its dated but still looks great as it has that nice B-movie look which is mainly down to the budget. Think of it as an unintentional result that happens to fit the whole films concept perfectly. Classic 50's alien B-movie fluff enhanced with time.
The whole idea is really very clever and imagined so well. We see the alien corrupted world controlling the now unaware obedient humans in their daily lives through the black and white shades 'Nada' finds. Without the shades the world appears normal, an illusion created to blinker or fog human eyes.
The aliens only appear when the shades are on and boy do they look creepy. Even though its obviously a simple mask the makeup and design is superbly created and really gives an eerie effect.
I have always been surprised with the great performance by Piper also. The guy was a WWF wrestler at the time for gods sake yet his acting here is great, just perfect. He really carries off the suspicion and awakening of the story to a tee. As for his character of 'Nada'...all I can say is the guy certainly has an element of 'Jack Burton' if you ask me.
'I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum'
I also like how this film isn't predictable. It keeps you guessing and your never sure how it will end or who will survive.
The subtle political jabs, crazy ass humour and out n out action is a curious blend but like Carpenter's 86 film 'Big Trouble in Little China' he manages to pull it off with ease and create another cult on his filmography. A great comicbook tale of mindless media/advertising supremacy on an Orwellian alien monitored Earth.
'Brother, life's a bitch... and she's back in heat'