They Live 4K UHD Is the Pick of the Week

Legendary horror master John Carpenter just celebrated his 73rd birthday on Saturday. Every true genre fan has a favorite Carpenter film, and if you ask them, they tell what that is and why. They will probably go into what they love about it and possibly what they don’t. Like other legends such as Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, Kathryn Bigelow (with Near Dark), and George A. Romero, Carpenter redefined the often undermined genre with his 1978 masterpiece Halloween.

However (at the time), he did make some really interesting and great films in the ’80s, such as The Fog, Christine, Prince of Darkness, and his iconic 1988 political horror gem They Live, which on the surface seems like a run-of-the-mill camp fest, full of cheesy dialogue and off-color characters, but underneath has a lot of actually profound ideas and things to say that about the media and the upper class with its control over the so-called “little people.”

The late Roddy Piper (wrestler turned actor) plays a drifter who has no direction in his life, comes across a pair of mysterious sunglasses that has the power to show the world of how it really is. He also discovers that most of society is covered in less-than-subtle messages by the media and the government to be keep people in their control, and that the upper class are really aliens bent on taking over the world. With the help of a construction worker (Keith David) and the leader of a soup kitchen (Peter Jason), he tries to save humanity from suffering a grim future.

As with other Carpenter works, it didn’t receive the best reviews and was a box office failure, but has since become a cult classic, and rightly so. The film goes beyond its obvious flaws to have something real to say about authority and how individualism is always constantly at odds with socialism, to the point of political and human turmoil. If you want to go into it without the themes and just want to go on a fun ride, then the film definitely provides that, especially with a nearly six-minute alley fight between Piper and David; and its now-famous line: “I’m here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I’m all outta bubblegum”.

Making its 4K debut, the 2-disc set has a new and improved picture and sound, and some vintage but worthwhile special features, including a commentary with Carpenter and Piper; interviews with Carpenter, David, and Meg Foster (Holly); featurette with director of photography Gary B. Kibbe, stunt coordinator Jeff Imada, and co-composer Alan Howarth; an original making-of doc; footage of commericals featured in the film; still gallery; and theatrical trailer/TV spots. If you happen to be a huge fan of Carpenter and this film, then this release is definitely worthy of your collection, assuming you have a 4K player.

Other releases:

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (Criterion): Scorsese’s chronicle of Dylan’s 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour along with a troubled country destined for a rebirth.

Prince of Darkness 4K UHD (Scream Factory): Another Carpenter late ’80s classic about a research team who finds a mysterious cylinder in an abandoned church. If tampered or opened, it could mean the end of humanity,

The Climb: A thoughful, small-scale comedy about the friendship between two guys spanning many years, and the betrayal that nearly destroys it.

JSA: Joint Security Area (Arrow): A drama by Park Chan-wook centering on a Swedish/Swiss team investigating the deaths of two North Korean soldiers. They discover that not everything is adding up, and that the truth is much darker than that.


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