Dwayne Johnson was not the first wrestler to successfully transform his in-ring career into big-screen superstardom. You might not know it, but the thespian Roddy Piper–best known for transforming himself into memorable characters like The Pyro Messiah, Bronco Bill, and Yokum, The Bartender for the silver screen–once wrestled under the moniker “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
One of Roddy’s earliest roles was his best, as George Nada in the amazing They Live, by John Carpenter.
George Nada walks his way into town with nothing but the pack on his back, the construction boots on his feet and the desire to work hard to achieve the American dream. The opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the film: low-down and gritty. Rain falls on this American everyman as he fruitlessly searches for work, toothpick in mouth
He eventually lands an unskilled laborer job on a construction site, and Frank Armitage, played by the charismatic Keith David, leads him to a shanty town where he can rest his weary bones for the night.
Though George Nada just wants to do honest work for honest pay, he soon learns of an alien conspiracy to enslave mankind. By wearing special sunglasses, he can see the propaganda the aliens brainwash humans with (“Obey”, “Marry and Reproduce”, “Consume”), and he can see their hideous alien visages. So he goes on a brutal killing spree.
But a one man killing spree, while satisfying, can’t save the world, so he convinces Frank Armitage to join him in what feels like the longest fight scene ever put to film. Every minute or so, the two men stop beating the stuffing out of each other just long enough for Roddy to say, “Put on the glasses,” and Keith to reply, “I won’t put on your damn glasses!”
I can’t really express the grandeur of the scene. You simply have to watch it.
At first, They Live seems to be letting the human race off the hook. It’s alien invaders who’ve done all this evil; humans are just victims. By the end, though, much of the blame rests squarely with our “screw you if I’ve got mine” mentality.
Seriously, with the state of the economy, this movie couldn’t be more timely. Except in the reality of They Live, you get the satisfaction of watching a pro-wrestler blow away those responsible with a multitude of small arms.
Commie propaganda at its best.
They Live is a classic, and easily gets an 8 out of 10.
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