Tales that Witness Madness Blog: They Live (1988)

8th November, 2021

I re-watched They Live (1988) again. I must have seen this movie over thirty times. No joke. It’s one of my comfort movies. I’m not entirely sure when I first saw it. I reckon it was probably 1991. I do remember that I bought it from the library when they had their yearly video sale to get rid of their old rentals. I was so lucky to have snapped it up along with The Blob (1988) for a few pounds back then. Usually all the good movies sold out fast – it was fate!

I think a lot of the younger generation treat movies differently nowadays; with streaming services galore and the ability to watch any film at the touch of a button it kind of depreciates the experience a little.

You see, back then, when I was a teen, living at home with my parents, in Dedridge, Livingston, I used to rent films from the library. The library was located in the Lanthorn Community Centre (I wrote about this in a previous article). I would pop down at least once (if not twice) a week to rent a movie from there.

Wednesday’s were a movie marathon day as the library rented out their videos for 50p. The whole build up to walking down to the library and browsing the shelves, filled with numerous colourful video cassettes, was an event in itself. I was like a kid in a candy shop.

Here’s some photos I took of the Lanthorn Community Centre in 2017

In the UK we only had four television stations! Yes, you read that right – four TV channels. Unless your parents were wealthy enough to have SKY TV (which wasn’t cheap back then in the ’90s) then you were stuck with four channels. Luckily I had a VCR in my room and was an avid video collector.

I remember watching They Live for the first time and being amazed at the whole sunglasses reveal and having my mind blown that the whole idea could be scarily true. On re-watching it it’s obvious that The Matrix (1999) took a massive amount of inspiration from it; from the sunglasses to the alternate reality theory, etc.

Original poster and scenes from They Live (1988)

What made this viewing of They Live special was that I watched the 4K UHD version on the projector. Everything was so clear and crisp – the background scenery of people walking past and cars driving by made it like a new experience. The little nuances of Roddy Piper’s expressions and Keith David’s reactions were more noticeable this time around. So much so that I savoured their performances like a fine wine this time around. What a great tag team they made as well. I would have loved to have seen them in another movie. I mean, imagine them as buddies in a ’90s cop movie? That woulda been awesome.

I’ll not give too much away about the film, just in case you’re reading this and you haven’t seen it. It’s a unique film, way ahead of its time, with themes on consumerism and greed and how the majority of us are blinded by our own personal gain. It’s one of the few Hollywood movies where the hero is a homeless person.

I love a lot of John Carpenter’s movies, they’re so atmospheric and idiosyncratic and have a dream-like quality about them. It would be great if he directed one last movie; either a final Escape From (Earth?) film or a sequel to Big Trouble in Little China. That would be awesome.

Some posters of John Carpenter’s movies!

Anyway, it’s been a while since my last blog entry. I’ve been writing a screenplay and had a few stumbling blocks along the way with that, but I’m back on track with it (I think).

As for this site, well, I’m thinking about doing an article on book recommendations next. It’s coming up to Christmas so I thought some of my suggestions would be helpful for people buying gifts or if they simply just want a book for themselves to read over the festive period.

I’m currently reading a few different books at the moment; I used to read just one book and then start another book after I finished reading the whole thing, but I’ve found that I don’t always want to read the same thing every night. So I’m currently reading The Hobbit (Tolkien), Erebus (by Shaun Hutson), Weaveworld (by Clive Barker), Timbuktu (by Paul Auster), The Diary of Anne Frank, and The Motorcycle Diaries, by Ernesto Che Guevara.

I’ve read a lot of Paul Auster’s work and have re-read a few of his books multiple times. I have only read Timbuktu once and I’m really enjoying it this time around; I’m actually laughing out loud at some of the scenes as it’s so strange and funny. The whole book is written from Mr. Bones’s point of view – he’s a mangy mutt whose owner is the eccentric Willy Christmas; a hobo poet who had an epiphany to spread the joy of Christmas all year round. It’s a hilarious and poignant tale, written from the dog’s viewpoint. Should you read it? Absolutely. It’s a must have book for any animal lover.

Okay, that’s me for just now, back on to writing the screenplay. The madness continues…

Ciao for now


As is fitting with my blog, here’s a photo I took on November 27th, 2017. In Leith, at the Shore.

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