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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

They Live [Blu-ray]

 

(John Carpenter, 1988)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Alive Films

Video: Eagle Pictures / Shout! Factory

 

Disc:

Region: 'B'-locked / Region 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:34:20.041 / 1:34:07.725

Disc Size: 22,090,993,712 bytes / 43,835,876,364 bytes

Feature Size: 21,819,623,424 bytes / 26,620,827,648 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.29 Mbps / 30.00 Mbps

Chapters: 8 / 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case with cardboard sleeve (both)

Release date: February 2nd, 2011 / November 6th, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.23:1 / 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio Italian 3558 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3558 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2134 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2134 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1632 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1632 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1578 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1578 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

Italian, none

English, none

 

Extras:

• 16-page booklet with photos and essay (in Italian)

Audio Commentary By Director John Carpenter And Actor Roddy Piper
Independent Thoughts - Interview With Director John Carpenter (10:07)

Woman of Mystery - Interview with Actress Meg Foster (5:20)

Watch, Look, Listen: The Sights and Sounds of They Live (11:14)

Man vs. Aliens - Interview with actor Keith David (11:12)
Vintage Featurette: The Making Of They Live (8:02)

Never-Before-Seen-Footage (Commercials in the film) - 2:34
Original Theatrical Trailer (1:29)

Stills Gallery (2:17)
TV Spots (1:55)

 

Bitrate:

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Description: John Nada (Roddy Piper) is a quiet loner, a drifter who gets work where ever he can find it. While working on a construction site in L.A. and sleeping in a vagrant community at night, John stumbles upon a secret society of alien beings who pose as wealthy and powerful people in human society. John joins a rebel group committed to exposing this conspiracy, and becomes their reluctant leader and the only hope of the human race. Wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper is outstanding as the unassuming hero, playing the role with understated shock at what he uncovers and stubborn courage when he confronts it. Director John Carpenter laces the film with his trademark blend of humour and horror, making aliens that are hideously arrogant, greedy, and easy to hate, while the humans are confused and desperate in their struggle against them. The world looks a little different at the end of THEY LIVE, and one will never look at billboards, money, or sunglasses the same way again. The film contains the longest, and perhaps most realistic, fist fight in film history. Paying homage to INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, the film was based on the short story EIGHT O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING by Ray Nelson.

 

 

The Film:

John Carpenter wrote and directed this science fiction thriller about a group of aliens who try to take over the world... by disguising themselves as Young Republicans. Wrestler Roddy Piper stars as John Nada, a drifted who makes his way into an immense encampment for the homeless. There he stumbles upon a conspiracy concerning aliens who have hypnotized the populace through subliminal messages transmitted through television, magazines, posters, and movies. When Nada looks through special Ray-Bans developed by the resistance leaders, the aliens lose their clean-cut Dan Quayle looks and resemble crusty-looking reptiles. Nada joins the underground, teaming up with rebel-leader Frank (Keith David) to eradicate the lizard-like aliens from the body politic.~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide.

***

In fact, the movie is a confusing blend of anti-Reagan satire and genre conventions that make the film every bit as crass, amoral, and mulishly blinkered in its many rightwing assumptions as the attitudes it is ostensibly attacking. It all adds up to an ideological incoherence that is rather suggestive in relation to the recent presidential election. How, one may wonder, could a majority of voters have opted for a one-time wimp who, if one accepts the persuasive evidence of the recent Iran-contra documentary Coverup, is one of the world’s biggest drug dealers yet got elected on promises to deal harshly with drug dealers? How does one reconcile this campaign’s designation of “liberal” as a dirty word — by Democrats and Republicans alike — with the plethora of liberal promises and sentiments sprinkled into Bush’s speeches? If such contradictions can’t be reconciled, we can at least try to understand some of the processes (such as combining liberal sentiments with right-wing rhetoric) that make them possible; and They Live may offer a few clues about how we’ve arrived at such an impasse.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum located HERE

***

John Nada (Piper) is grouchy because ever since he arrived in Los Angeles from Colorado, there's been nothing but trouble. People are rude, he lives on a campsite, and then the place is demolished by the cops. Things get worse when he happens across a hidden stash of special sunglasses. Donning a pair, his vision is literally reduced to black-and-white, revealing a terrible plot being perpetrated on the underclass. Skeletal aliens have invaded earth, taking on human guise, hogging the best jobs, and placing subliminal messages on hoardings and magazines which instruct the man on the street to 'Obey', 'Submit', 'Marry and Reproduce'. It's sunglasses for all as Nada and his pal Frank (David) attempt to infiltrate the media and expose the conspiracy.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Not a perfect image on Carpenter's They Live out of Eagles Pictures in Italy - but it will suffice until Region 'A' gets off its butt for this title. There is a bit of noise on the single-layered transfer - but it is, indeed, 1080P.  The detail is better than I was expecting and overall it doesn't look bad at all. There is some softness that is probably inherent in the source and contrast seems serviceable - colors are a shade dull but outdoor sequences show exuberance. I'm okay with this - there are even scenes with some depth. It is very clean with some minor dirt but most should be content with the visual appearance. Aspect ratio is about 2.23:1 - region 1 DVDs were 2.35 and import ones were 2.20.

The Shout! Factory image quality is superior in every way - brighter colors (cooler flesh tones), sharper (full jump in contrast) and in the correct theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio (and frequently shows more information in the frame). It's dual-layered with a high bitrate - no contest. It may be a shade glossy but any manipulation is not egregious.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Audio :

Unfortunately the lossless Surround is an Italian DUB and the original English is relegated to a standard Dolby 2.0 channel stereo. It sounds okay though - nothing remarkable to discuss but dialogue is clear and there is some perceived depth to the soundtrack. There are only optional Italian subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

Shout! Factory advances again giving the original English track a lossless rendering in the option of 5.1 or 2.0 channel stereo. More depth, crisp separation and Carpenter's own score sounds wonderfully supportive. There are also optional English subtitles on the North American Blu-ray.

 

Extras :

Nutt'in except a 16-page booklet with photos and some essays in Italian.

Shout! Factory demonstratively advances in the supplements with a fun commentary from Carpenter and Rowdy Roddy, new interviews with Meg Foster and Keith David - another with Carpenter, never-before-seen commercials made for the film, a video piece on the music, Stills Gallery, trailer, TV Spots - in a word 'stacked'.

 

Eagle Pictures - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This is grassroots Carpenter and a lot of fun. I thought Rowdy Roddy was great and I wish there were a whole series of these films. They remind me of innocent 50's sci-fi cinema. Yes - it is all very obvious and simple but the Blu-ray does its job in establishing this as the best digital representation of this kitschy gem! If you haven't seen it - I say - go for it.

For under $20 - I think this is a great purchase - very worthy of repeat viewing. The deeper themes seem even more contemporary. Absolutely recommended! 

Gary Tooze

March 1st, 2011

November 13th, 2012

 

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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