80s Sci-Fi Horror Double Bill

A retro throwback to a couple of sci-fi / horror films that are over 30 years old now. But perhaps the scariest thing of all is that they are perhaps more relevant to our modern society than ever before....

They Live (John Carpenter, 1988) is a fun sci-fi flick about a construction worker (former wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper) who, courtesy of some special sunglasses, stumbles upon the fact that aliens have infiltrated the higher echelons of human society and are controlling SUBMIT ordinary citizens through subliminal advertising. It is remembered fondly (and rightly so) for an epic street brawl between Piper and Keith David, as well as Piper's immortal 'all outta bubble-gum' line, which remains iconic despite (or maybe because of) Piper's ham-fisted delivery. OBEY But the action-adventure element of the film is a lot less interesting than the satirical set-up which increasingly serves as a sharp social commentary on greed, propaganda and government. CONSUME Carpenter may have set out to make an entertaining action flick, but he also wanted it to serve as an anti-Reagan, anti-capitalist statement. “All of the aliens are members of the upper class, the rich, and they’re slowly exploiting the middle class, and everybody’s becoming poorer,” he explained in a making-of documentary. Thirty years on, does any of that sound familiar? CONFORM Indeed, if we put on our own special sunglasses and take a look at the world around us today, they'll reveal that They Live has a lot of smart stuff going on underneath a seemingly dumb surface. BUY ME BEER 

In Videodrome (David Cronenberg, 1983), sleazy TV producer Max (James Woods), on the lookout for cheap, sensationalist content for his channel, discovers a violent, masochistic programme called 'Videodrome', which he predicts will be the next big thing. Unfortunately, he gets a little too obsessed, leading him down a nightmarish path towards sex, insanity  and murder. Jeremy Kyle would be proud. At first glance, this may all appear a bit dated, being set in the VHS-era, but there is something remarkably prescient about its commentary on the lure and effect that exploitative programming has on the viewer. In our digital, connected age, access to reality TV, graphic porn and shocking video content is but a flick of a finger away, all provided by faceless, corporate behemoths. Who really knows what it is doing to us and who's to say what sinister motives those corporations have? Admittedly, Videodrome may itself veer into the shlocky, body-horror territory which epitomised Cronenberg's early work, but just because it features a man fisting a vaginal opening in his own belly, it doesn't mean it has a lot of relevant, uncomfortable things to say about both our entertainment choices and our appetites for it. It just has a strange way of saying it. Or, actually, maybe not so strange, as a cursory glance at the content available on our digital devices would confirm. Looks like the new flesh has indeed lived long....

Okay, enough writing. Something is compelling me to go off and watch gratuitous, exploitative crap on TV. I think the Jeremy Kyle show starts soon on channel 666.....

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