OOM #13 – They Live (1988)

Hello everyone! Once again I come to you, this time fully installed in Santiago, Chile, ready for the rest of the month of October, filled with jobs and new opportunities, but at the same time filled with the dread of the horror that comes with Halloween and the horrific creatures that appear in front of our eyes, how the portals slowly start to open and the horrors from our nightmares start to appear once again in our backyards, behind our beds or even behind the face of our loved ones. May we all be protected against the evils of this time and have a great time this October, this Spooky Spoopy October.

The movie today is actually one of those that I’ve heard a lot of in the past few years, as if it were a secret of sorts that was passed around, a movie that everyone apparently saw but no one talked about, until it exploded and it has gone to Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness, where James Rolfe recommends this horror movie with some personal reservations that I can understand. Again, as we know, the films that have been featured are disjointed out of the ordinary because of how random James is being with the films that he features here and there. What can we have left? Who knows, the future is exciting, just like my first time watching ‘They Live’ (1988). You can see James’s video here.

Me? I’ve yet to see the movie, but I’m fearing that I’ll love it completely! Let’s hear what I have to say.

To obey is something difficult, and the protagonist of ‘They Live’ (1988) knows about it, without a job he is in the final need of begging for jobs so he can sustain himself in a life in the slums. The precise portrayal of the houses, the relations and the way that people talked when they were in that place, one can understand how easily it can become the place for some kind of last stance, a defense of everything that people may or may not stand for, a defense against a system of life that is not welcome there, it is a visual representation of the lower depths, and I love it for that. And that is only one of the many many elements that are present in this movie that I absolutely adore. It might end up being my favorite movie that I talk about this year in this countdown, it’s really that great.

Directed by the master John Carpenter, he manages to get his point across bluntly and without any finesse, because it doesn’t need it, it’s just a complete attack on a certain way of life, a point of view that some of us live, something that may damage us, and he says so bluntly, and he tries to attack it in the most brute way possible: making a movie that denounces everything that isn’t right in our society, and tries to make an action film out of that whole thing. And he accomplishes what seemed impossible, he makes a movie about these complex themes, about how money and media can end up controlling the thoughts and the actions of people, and he makes it entertaining, compelling, exciting and even makes you giddy at the possible pronouncement of new action sequences.

It also manages to be a first rate horror movie, essentially through the use of dreadful imagery, seeing the images in black and white and grey of the landscape of words and cartels saying strange and scary messages about how people should behave is scary in itself, its dreadful to think about something that we don’t see but affects us anyway, that’s why there was a scare in the 80’s-90’s and even nowadays about subliminal messages and their effect in people, how they could hide whatever they wanted into something that we consumed every day. That is a scary thought, that maybe something that we tend to every day is actually saying to us something different than what we think. Oh, and those monsters, the aliens, the way that they talk and move and seem to be everywhere, it’s also really scary and fills you with that existential dread, the one that makes you ask constantly: ‘what if this were real’.

We wouldn’t know, and it’s that ignorance that makes us more scared, and I don’t want to come out as a paranoid of sorts, but sometimes people think about the impossible, at least I do, about what we don’t know, about everything that we won’t ever ever know while we live, and it scares me. It scares me that maybe there’s no explanation for things, and maybe there aren’t really that many answers as you thought there were. Ignorance is never bliss, ignorance is the constant fear of the dark, is the constant thought that the brother right beside me may come to me with a gun and shoot me in the face without any reason. One tries to not think about it, but it is with the same elements that here are presented as means of making people sleep (media, presence of people, security) while they live, are making us more alert to the dangers, and that is a way of making people sleep.

Anyway, maybe I’ve gone on a tangent way too long, but I think that it’s truly an interesting movie because it manages to create discussions on themes like the ones I’ve been tackling. The infamous fight sequence didn’t seem so long to me, I think that there are longer and duller, this one was never boring and it was always exciting and interesting to see the random ways in which they would turn to each other. There has been many analysis about the nature of the fight, and even Zizek, one of the most famous philosophers of modern times, has used this movie as some sort of example of how ideology works, and how it is even those outside the ideology, who can watch it and see the wrong in it, that it is really hard for people to convince about something out there.

Maybe we already have the sunglasses, but we just don’t want to see what we should.



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