Saturday, November 3, 2012

THEY LIVE (1988)

The golden rule: he who has the gold makes the rules.

How many horror films gives you food for thought in provoking and intriguing manner? John Carpenter’s ‘They Live’, is surely an underrated cult horror in that regards. Unlike zombie, ghosts or and blood gore slasher thrill of this long stamped B genre horror, this film represents an everyday horror of our existence where the face of society and its rulers are more horrifying and striking. And it's not to just for our senses but for our heads too. The film is based on a short story ‘8 O’clock in the Morning’ by Ray Nelson, the film is sci-fi horror on surface but underneath it represents the rampant ugly face of society feeds on loose and corrupt human spirit which seems almost a reality now. It unravels the mask of society driven by consumerist capital world.

The protagonist is a drifter who’s facing hard times and lost his job after economic collapse in his hometown. He came to another city in search of work and success. He is the fellow America who believes in nation and his fair chance to earn his bread and butter and rise above. As soon as he enters the city, he encounters a blind man delivering provoking speech to the passerby. Next he sees a man on road hooked to a television programme as some sort of zombie. Soon he gets a labour work on a construction site and befriends another worker who led him to a community ghetto where people like them survive. The man soon finds out a suspicious activity going on around and inside church. Much to his ambiguity a police raid grab the preacher and other men dealing with suspicious activity inside church. He visits church and find out a pair of sunglass. The man who discarded everything that giving him clue now facing the seedy reality, the moment he wears the pair of glasses. The world starts crumbling down for him; as now he’s facing the world in its stark ugliness where men are aliens and the world is big matrix puzzle. He’s now heading for quest with his awakening but how long will he survive in the world where power, money, politics and law is ready to annihilate forces like him.

It punch the audience’s head with it’s dialogues, visuals and signs that throughout the film made all of us think hard about the world and state we’re living. A man on television with bad transmission constantly keep stating-

"Our impulses are being redirected. We are living in artificially induced state of consciousness that resembles sleep. They have created a repressive society and we are their unwitting accomplices. Their intention to rule rests us with the annihilation of consciousness. We have been lulled into trance. They have made us indifferent, to ourselves, and to others. We are focused on only on our own gain. Please understand, they are safe as long as are not discovered. That is their method of survival. Keep us asleep, keep us selfish, and keep us sedated."

From indoctrination through education, consumerism catch through bombarding of advertisements all around to political brain wash through sloganeering and glorious history and psychological programming through television channels. Ah, there are number of things that I go on and on to describe the wake up call signs that the film portrays to the working middle class society of the world. THEY LIVE WE SLEEP written on a wall. And all those billboard signs on the city, the dollar note showing THIS IS YOUR GOD. This is one hell of movie of metaphors and symbols that pointing us the ugly reality that remains unchallenged by programmed mindsets. Carpenter who made some of the striking horror films like ‘The Thing’ and ‘Halloween’ made something so unusual that I won’t mind giving it Cult status. As near the end of the film, we hears the line uttered on television that partly hitting his critics and audience with a self mocking tone- “All the sex and violence on the screen has gone too far for me. I’m fed up with it, filmmakers like George Romero and John Carpenter have to show some restraint.”

Grab it as soon as possible.

Ratings- 8.5/10 

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