On July 31st, the world lost one of it’s greatest thespians.
One who could turn a phrase in a singular way that made you grin and cry at the same time.
I am speaking, of course, of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
I’m not here to tell you about the two best Roddy flicks, but that’s mainly because I’ve only seen one.
What I am here to do is tell you about a movie that goes along with his best performance.
THEY LIVE (1986)
Written and directed by John Carpenter
Based on a short story by Ray Nelson
They Live is one of those movies that everyone saw at some point, but not everybody remembers seeing. They just remember a weird movie with sunglasses. And a super long fight scene.
Piper plays Nada (that’s the name given in the credits, anyway), a drifter who stumbles upon a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see the world for what it really is: run by aliens. All of our billboards are filled with secret messages. All of our leaders are skeletal aliens. And we’re all screwed.
Unless, of course, Nada can save us all.
They Live is super silly fun. It’s actually one of the most fun of Carpenter’s movies. He’s made much better films, but really only Big Trouble In Little China rivals this one for fun.
Roddy was never a great actor, but he’s perfect for the role of Nada and talks about bubble gum in ways that, before this movie, no one ever thought about. And then there’s that 5 1/2 minute fist fight with Keith David. At the time, it was the longest fist fight in cinema history…and then it was copied, blow for blow, by South Park. And it was still amazing.
Yeah. I love this movie. It may not be the greatest film ever made, but that doesn’t matter. It’s awesome. Just see it.
If you ever want a great HP Lovecraft adaptation, seek out Stuart Gordon. After the miracle that is Re-Animator, how could he and star Jeffrey Combs go wrong?
Well, they didn’t. From Beyond is awesome, too.
Combs is Crawford Tillinghast, the assistant to Dr. Pretorius (Ted Sorel). They’ve created the Resonator. It’s meant to stimulate the 6th sense. They have a feeling that they would see into another dimension. What neither of them know is that it allows the creatures in that dimension see us. And they’re hungry.
Very, very hungry.
As with all Lovecraft stories, this one deals with pan-dimensional beings that feast on the sanity of us. As with Gordon’s other Lovecraft films, From Beyond is a helluva lot of fun. With gore effects out the wazoo and a typically crazy performance from Mr. Combs, it’s almost as good as Re-Animator.
Nothing can top that, but this is damn good.
They Live and From Beyond aren’t exactly cut from the same cloth, but they do both show a strange joy of filmmaking and horror story telling that still resonate. They also both show a world beneath our own world that finds a way to control us.
And only certain people can see that world.
It’s really up to them what they do with that power.