Let’s talk today about one of the greatest cinematographic masterpieces of all time. Of course, I’m talking about They Live.
I mean, how could you not like this movie? The fight scene where Rowdy Roddy Piper tries to make Keith David put on sunglasses is priceless. Why wouldn’t he just put on the glasses for a second? No one knows. It was even the basis for the fight between Timmy and Jimmy in the Cripple Fight episode of South Park.
Of course, the movie is terrible. The world is secretly controlled by aliens. The only people who can see this are people who have special sunglasses (or contact lenses when these are later developed). Really, that’s the best that can be said about the movie. It’s a classic because it’s awful.
However, the strangest moment in the movie is when Rowdy Roddy Piper first puts on the glasses. He looks around, sees aliens and hidden messages (sure, he takes the glasses off and puts them back on a few times), and then runs right into a bank and starts shooting people who look like aliens.
I’m not kidding here. There is no time to stop and consider whether or not he might be crazy, no concern about hallucinations, no reflection on what actually might be going on, nothing. He literally gets a shotgun, walks into a bank, and delivers his infamous line (yes, he actually says this): “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum.” Then he starts plugging people who appear to be aliens.
Would anybody EVER do this? Wouldn’t you have a bit more doubt about what really may be going on? Would you actually see people appear to be aliens and, without knowing anything about them, start shooting? Dear god, I hope not.
Either way, I know this is a crucial plot moment in the movie, but it has to go down as the most unbelievable character reaction in the history of drama (or whatever you want to call it). I just can’t get over it. I still laugh anytime I remember this moment.