• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

They Live

TITLE: They Live

YEAR: 1988

GENRE: Science Fiction and Horror

Back in 1978 George A. Romero made one of the ultimate films on mass consumerism, the epic Dawn Of The Dead. The scenes where the zombies rumble through the mall yet still can not resist window shopping is one of the epic scenes in 1970’s horror history. Ten years later, 1980’s horror genius John Carpenter gave his take on Reagan-era consumerism that in its own way is just as classic as Romero’s epic take. They Live is a fantastic sci-fi epic that is a unique take on alien invasion while at the same time a model look at today’s purchase-happy society.

Nada (played by Roddy Piper) is a loner roaming from town to town during a major economic downturn in the near future. While in a major city Nada finds the equivalent of a shanty town and befriends Frank Armitage (Keith David), a construction worker who takes Nada under his wing. After the shanty town is demolished by the authorities Nada hears about a resistance movement against the government but there is a lot more than meets the eye. Nada discovers a pair of sunglasses that literally open his eyes to the truth of his society: a group of consumerist aliens have taken over his culture, feed conformist slogans such as “marry and reproduce” and “sleep” to the humans, and even live among the human race in plain sight. Nada and Frank join the resistance and discover with the help of Holly Thompson (Meg Foster) that the aliens’ main signal is being transmitted at a local television station. It is up to Nada and Frank to find their way into the station to stop the signal and to unmask the aliens for their true intentions.

As discussed before, They Live is a fantastic take on modern consumerism and how it blinds society to what is truly important, but the movie also works on many other levels. Piper, best known for his character on WWF wrestling, puts on the acting role of his career as the wise cracking loner with great one-liners. One that has become a catch phrase in the nerd community is when Piper walks into a bank with a shotgun and states “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I am all out of bubble gum”, plus when Piper refers to one of the aliens are “formaldehyde face” is downright hysterical. The fistfight between Piper and David over wearing the glasses is one of the most violent fisticuffs in any film and has a ridiculous tone to the almost five minute long melee. The story also flows along at a natural progression and has enough twists and turns to make They Live an interesting study on the dark side of the American Dream. The last fifteen minutes does degenerate into a shoot-em-up, but that is fairly fitting and does lead to a well done and interesting climax.

Piper could have done so much more with his acting career, but a combination of less than desirable B-movie roles, being stereotyped as a wrestler, and a bout with cancer slowed down what could have been an excellent action career even though he did appear at the tail end of the 1980’s action movie craze. Although They Live does have a great amount of fight scenes and machine gun fire, it is also an intellectual and ambitious project that is best watched with a set of friends that appreciate a well written film that has plenty to discuss in between the mayhem. One of the best science fiction films of the 1980’s.

* * * * *

–Mark

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