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Thursday, November 17, 2011

FIGHTS: Shades of the "Occupy Wall Street" Movement in John Carpenter's "They Live"- Review

by Bowie V. Ibarra

(This blog is dedicated to Jude Felton of "Lair of Filth", Jason Thorson of "", and Bryan Schuesslar of "", three of the best movie reviewers on the web today.  Check them out if you love your movies bloody and good for solid and loving reviews from the genre.  May my blogs be half as awesome as ya'lls.)

As the Occupy Wall Street leftists hit a proverbial wall in the form of NYPD Blue, geared up to run off the New Age Hippies 2011 out of Zuccotti Park at the bidding of the political and financial bourgeoisie, the late night assault on the group was rather suspicious.  Yet it was reminiscent of "They Live", a classic and somewhat obscure movie from John Carpenter.  With the political upheaval going on, it looks like a good time to revisit the classic.

Here's the movie in a nutshell.

John Nada, played by WWE Legend 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper, wanders into town after riding the rails from Denver looking for work that 'dried up' back in Colorado.  He tells the unemployment lady while he was getting laid off, the bosses were giving themselves raises.

He gets work at a construction site where he meets a guy named Frank, who is just a hard working man with a family, a job, and the need to make money.  He's cynical, describing the Golden Rule as "He who owns the gold makes the rules."  But Nada believes every man has a fair shake and can get it through hard work.

Nada's living out of a Hooverville near the construction site that is sponsored by a nearby church.  Nada notices peculiar surveillance of the church by helicopters and police.  When he investigates, he finds a mysterious lab creating sunglasses.

That night, for some reason, the police make a move on the Hooverville, crushing all of the tents, huts, and living spaces, ala Zucotti Park.  They also move on the church.  As Nada escapes, he sees a blind street preacher and a bearded old man getting beat down by the cops.  The street preacher had been promoting passages from the Bible about rising from enslavement.  The old man was the face of a bizzare television relay that was interrupting people's viewing of the general tripe that is on television.  The relays were talking about people being lulled to sleep and being bred as cattle for the rich to manipulate and enslave, annihilating our consciousness.

When Nada returns to investigate the church, he sees a box full of sunglasses.  When he wears them, he sees the world is filled with subliminal messages influencing the world.  Words like 'CONFORM', 'SUBMIT', and 'OBEY' fill the world around us.  But the most frightening revelation is that the glasses can also see people for who they are.  And many of the people, the aristocrats, are aliens.

When those aliens realize 'he can see', they set out to catch him.  But he fights off the first set of cop/aliens that come for him, take their weapons, and goes on a rampage blasting aliens in a bank.

But he also comes to realize that humans are also working for the aliens.  He spares the humans.

He tries to get his friend Frank to wear the glasses, but Frank is too scared to talk to him because he is now wanted.  After the longest fistfight in cinema occurs, he convinces Frank to wear them, and Frank unwittingly becomes part of the fight against the aliens.

The remnants of the resistance find Nada and Frank and invite them out to a meeting to make a move to get the transmission tower that is at the top of Channel 54 news.  When a woman who Nada used to get him away from the cops appears, she tells them that the news station is vulnerable.  She works there.

But the aliens make a move on the resistance after the appearance of the woman.  Nada and Frank make a break for it and infiltrate the alien's base.  They find a banquet of aliens and humans talking about profits and future conquests.

Then a bum that was once part of the Hooverville appears, having been tapped to be a part of the Alien's team.  He shows Nada and Frank around the base and the secrets as if he's a little boy bragging to friends about his toys.  Nada and Frank take advantage and make a move on the tower.  Frank is double-crossed by the woman, and Nada makes it to the tower.  Before being killed, he blasts the tower sending out the frequency to keep people asleep.

With the tower destroyed, the humans wake from their slumber and can now see the world for what it is, as well as the aliens.

But the movie ends with a human woman banging out an alien, suggesting the aliens have already been assimilating with the humans and creating hybrids.

The movie is great movie fun and is recommended highly by  But the movie goes deeper than just entertainment.  It's actually a great political satire with all the hallmarks of the best conspiracy theories.

The movie opens with images of consumption and avarice on television.  People watch it with hypnotic concentration.  When the pirate relay comes in, the people get headaches because it breaks the trance.

Television is just like that, though.  Studies have shown that the mind is, indeed, lulled to sleep by the racing images on a television.  Here's how it works.  The mind is wired to concentrate on things that its senses take in.  Television, especially programs like TMZ or other celebrity tripe on VH-1 or MTV, has camera shots and switches almost every few seconds.  What that does is lull your mind to sleep.  Watch one segment of TMZ and see how many seconds it takes before an image jumps to another shot, shakes, twists, or does some other thing to cloud your mind.

I submit that its all by design.  Back in the day, you might remember when a TV show ended, you'd get the credits, then a couple of commercials.  Then back to the proper end credits, another couple of commercials, then the next show.

Observe today's TV.  They want to keep you there in front of the TV by taking the end of the show right up to the top or bottom of the hour, ending the show, shooting through credits, then starting the next show.

That's hypnosis.  Or as I like to call it, mind control.  A subtle form, albeit, but mind control nonetheless.

The aliens running the government and being the rich aristocrats is another conspiracy theory hallmark.  David Icke has written volumes about the 'reptiles' being influences on this planet since their exodus and controlling our leaders from the 5th dimension.  This movie is clearly a play on that same theory.

And like the Occupy Wall Street movement, this simple and old conspiracy speaks to their platform, "We are the 99%".  The 1% are the rich corporations (run by aliens), and we are the people who work for them (the slaves) placated each and every week by the solace found in the proverbial 'bread and circus' that stifles our creativity and crushes our spirit.  We the 99% are given long enough work hours and just enough to live and stay quiet like Frank's character.  He knows there's corruption, but he doesn't want to lose his job in the system because then he will fail his family.

It's that world that keeps the chains on the young and modern day revolutionary, and the chains that keeps the old hard working revolutionary quiet past his prime.

Filmwise, the movie has some great shots.  The towering glass buildings of the bourgeoisie towering over him as he walks into town from the boxcars and train tracks.  Those same buildings loom over the Hooverville.

The acting is adequate.  Roddy Piper keeps his acting simple, and Carpenter is smart to not give him long lines.  He does a good job committing to the circumstances.

Frank, played by Keith David, is also good as well.  The two share a great fight scene that has to be seen to be believed.  Both characters are likeable enough and provide enough truthful acting to garner sympathy at the finish.

As an old revolutionary who tried to crush the federal reserve with gold and silver before crushing the federal reserve was cool, I see the metaphor and the worth of this movie.  I only wish returning people to their spiritual consciousness and power was as easy as blasting a satellite relay with a Derringer.


ZBF Blog reviews the Romero classic, the one that started it all, "Night of the Living Dead" '68

Excerpt from the upcoming horror release, "Big Cat"
"The first victim and the three friends"

Bowie Ibarra is the author of the "Down the Road" zombie horror series.  His upcoming novel, "Big Cat" is about the strength of friendship in the face of a horrific monster set up for a showdown with the friends.

You can network with Bowie at

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  1. Awesome movie AND review. I caught this at the theater back in the day.

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