Director John Carpenter reveals a ridiculous change the studio wanted to make to the aliens in They Live, his 1988 sci-fi film starring Roddy Piper.
Director John Carpenter reveals a ridiculous change the studio wanted to make to the aliens in They Live. Carpenter’s 1988 sci-fi film sees a world unknowingly under the influence of alien beings, forcing people to buy and consume until one man sees the truth and sets out to stop them. The film starred professional wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Keith David, and Meg Foster.
While speaking with Variety, Carpenter is asked if he received studio notes on They Live, given its message of anti-consumerism. He reveals the studio “didn’t want the aliens to be capitalists,” instead hoping to strip away the film’s commentary and asking for something more violent: “cannibals from outer space.” However, Carpenter stuck to his guns and was able to uphold his original vision, giving audiences the sci-fi cult classic that continues to garner fans to this day. Check out his comments on They Live below:
“Yeah, I got some notes. (Laughs) Yeah, which I ignored completely, but they didn’t want the aliens to be capitalists. They wanted to gut the whole movie. “Why don’t you make them cannibals from outer space?” It was just ridiculous. But anyway, we did it and I got the movie I wanted to make.”
Could A They Live Remake Work Today?
While Carpenter is known for films like Halloween and The Thing, They Live was not one of his biggest hits. However, it has become a cult classic, with many fans often rewatching and quoting the film. They Live is also regarded as having one of the best movie fight scenes, with an extended fistfight between Piper’s Nada and David’s Frank that runs almost six minutes thriving on brutal simplicity.
Despite They Live not making a splash upon release, a remake could potentially work today. Given the film’s anti-capitalist commentary, literally making unabashed consumerism the ultimate goal of evil aliens, the message could hit with the more forward-thinking audiences of today. It’s a message that has worked for several films of the modern era, with Bong Joon-ho’s Academy Award-winning Parasite being an excellent example; it not only connected with audiences and became financially successful, but was lauded for its commentary on society.
Furthermore, Carpenter’s work has continued to prove successful, with David Gordon Green’s recent Halloween trilogy showing a paying fanbase still exists for the director’s prior films. It also wouldn’t be the first time his work was remade, as Rob Zombie remade Halloween, and 2005 saw remakes of Assault on Precinct 13 and The Fog, each with varying degrees of success. There has even been word of a new Escape From New York film, which is said to be a sequel rather than a remake. So, Carpenter’s work still shows viability in the current marketplace, which means They Live could easily work if remade today.
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