I love movies. All kinds, even campy bad ones. You know, the ones that are so bad you laugh and play along. When Mystery Science Theatre 2000 (now 3000) debuted in 1988 I was thrilled. Finally! Something to fill the gap left by the sad departure of Creature Double Feature!
I discovered quickly that MST3000 was a sly take-off on programming like Creature Double Feature, in that the same bad monster, alien, and martial arts movies were shown, but this time, acerbic and witty audience members comment on the flick all throughout its showing. You know, like in real movie theatres where people always think they are making funny comments, but they really aren’t and it gets annoying real fast? Well, MST2000 (sorry, it’ll never be 3000 to me) is a place where the funniest writers put together the funniest comments and you just die laughing. Like this one:
I’m not witty enough to make comments like theirs but I still get caught up in the utter badness of some movies. Such a one last night was “They Live” by John Carpenter, on American Movie Classics. Wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper turned actor dons sunglasses and sees Our Evil Alien Overlords exposed. He must save us all from the subliminal messages on every billboard and magazine cover! He must shoot the cleverly named “Formaldahyde faces” whenever there is a clear shot and even when there isn’t for the sake of a good gunfight! He must fist-fight Keith David in the looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooongest fist-fight EV-ah before Frank will don the glasses and see the truth!
This premise was explored quite well in my opinion in the Dean Koontz Book “Twilight Eyes” more successfully than this movie, which is also taken from a story, “Eight O’Clock In The Morning“. Here is a funny excerpt of the review from ‘It’s a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie’:
“John Carpenter failed The Filmmaker’s Exam at question 1 when he cast Rowdy Roddy Piper in the lead role of They Live. However, the movie itself was so painfully bad that even if Carpenter had somehow gotten Harrison Ford or some other luminary to act in this movie, it still would have sucked. Hot Rod really isn’t a bad actor, he’s simply not a very versatile actor. Piper prepared for his acting career by being a professional wrestler. As such, he learned how to express two emotions very well — “In Pain” and “Not In Pain.” Unfortunately, he never expanded his repertoire of emotions to include such vital ones as “happy,” “sad,” or “angry” — any one of which might have helped him at some point in this movie.”
Er, Harrison Who? Make that Billy Dee Williams as a saving luminary for this movie…