They Live: Review


They Live



I’m a reader. I watch very little television and very movies. When I was younger, though, I was a film buff. I saw many classic horror movies, from Fulci’s Zombie to Raimi’s Evil Dead. I prided myself on seeing those movies, the more obscure the better. Some slipped through the cracks, however, and I’ve been slowly seeking them out. Just an hour ago, I finished John Carpenter’s They Live. Released in 1988, it follows a drifter (pro wrestler Roddy Piper) as he discovers that the world is controlled by alien beings.


This is my review.

They Live is a political film. Carpenter was reportedly disenchanted with the rampant consumerism of the 1980s. He said in an interview that every time he turned on the TV someone was trying to sell him something.


Carpenter is fairly liberal, and the 1980s were a liberal’s nightmare. Ronald Reagan was president and political correctness didn’t exist yet. Everyone was all about making money and looking out for themselves. Scary.


Carpenter channeled that into They Live; many of the aliens are wealthy, powerful, or both, while the poor schlubs are human.


The first thing I have to say about They Live is: Overall, I liked it. It was effective and fun.


The acting though…


Look, Roddy Piper was a great wrestler. I’ll shout that from the rooftops. RIP and all that.


But he wasn’t an actor.


His performance was stiff and Shatneresque. His costars weren’t much better. In fact, the best actors in the whole movie were the bit players. I don’t know if they were actually good or if they just got less rope to hang themselves with, but I digress.


Despite the bad acting, the movie works because the premise is so damn scary. Piper uses a pair of special sunglasses to see the monsters in his midst. Everyone else…well, no glasses equals no sight. That, to be, is the most frightening aspect of the film. These aliens are living among us and we don’t know. It would be bad enough if they were hiding and planning to attack at midnight, but that’s not the case. They were interested only in exploiting earth’s resources. Therefore, we never would have known. We would have lived, loved, and pooped and been none the wiser. They controlled the media (billboards of beautiful women on tropical beaches were revealed to be simple messages: OBEY. CONSUME. MARRY AND REPRODUCE), the government, everything. And we didn’t know, wouldn’t have known…until it was too late.


The story moves at a brisk but reasonable pace. I would have liked at least another twenty minutes, though. A little backstory on the aliens would have been nice, but that’s a dangerous proposition: Too much backstory and they lose their mystery. Still, it would have been cool to know a little more. There was also a fair amount of action (Piper walking into a bank with a shotgun and killing aliens. Now that was fun!)


Taking the limitations of filmmaking in 1988 into consideration, the special effects were good. The aliens were genuinely…disquieting. The political undercurrent is a problem for me because I don’t believe every rich person is evil, as They Live seems to imply. However, possible classism is a secondary concern for me; the poor acting ranks number one.


All things considered, I really enjoyed it. Had I seen it as a kid, or even a young teenager, I might have loved it. Being a jaded critic…I’d give it three out of five. Definitely worth the hour forty minutes.

A Few Words with Ben Eads



I talk to horror novelist Ben Eads. You can find Ben and his work here:



JR Q: When were you first drawn to horror fiction, and why?

BE: When I was eight years old. I remember my third grade teacher passing out little catalogs we could order books from. The cover of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark struck me. It was scary! I loved listening to my grandfather tell ghost stories, so I couldn’t wait to read more stories. For some reason I loved being scared.


JR Q: Did you have any teachers who encouraged your interest in literature?

BE: Aside from my third grade teacher, not really. However, when I was twelve, pushing my lawn mower around my neighborhood for Nintendo game money, I met a friend of author Richard Adams. He knew a lot of writers and was a writer of note himself. Everyone at school was reading the usual: Stephen King, Anne Rice, Dean Koontz and John Saul. He introduced me to the work of Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber, Philip. K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, etc… Every week he would have a new stack of books for me. I have him to thank for broadening my horizons.


JR Q: What was your first published piece of fiction? And do you think it holds up today?

BE: My first pro sale was to Shroud Magazine in 2009. They were kind enough to purchase my short horror story Full Circle. Like most writers, I don’t look upon my early work fondly. In no way does it hold up today. It’s a pretty terrible short story!


JR Q: What’s your most recent project?

BE: I just finished final edits on two short stories. One will be published in an anthology edited by Bram Stoker Award © winner Michael Knost. I’m really proud of that one. It’s more literary than horror. The other short story I’m equally proud of will be appearing in Crystal Lake Publishing’s anthology Tales From the Lake Volume: 2. The latter is straight up horror, and I get to share the pages with some of my favorite authors: Jack Ketchum, Rena Mason, Ramsey Campbell and Lisa Morton. Both anthologies will be published this year.


JR Q: Do you have anything in progress now?

BE: I’m currently working on a new horror novella. It’s chocked full of darkly sweet goodies! I’ve got a really good feeling about this one—two others blew up in my face before this one—and can’t wait to draft it, polish it, and submit it!


JR Q: Plug your work.

BE: My horror novella Cracked Sky is available from Omnium Gatherum Media, and has garnered praise and blurbs from the likes of Kealan Patrick Burke, Gene O’Neill, Mercedes M. Yardley, THIS IS HORROR, etc… It’s a heart-rending tale of loss, innocence, and the prices we pay for love. Cracked Sky has opened a lot of doors for me, and I’m over the moon to see it doing so well. Like much of my work: real-life horror meets the supernatural, coalesced by a sturdy foundation of emotions, and a faint light at the end of the tunnel.



The Shapeshifter Press Release


New Novella Features Native American Entity

Daytona Beach, Florida, January 4, 2016 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously said that there is nothing to fear but “fear itself.”

That’s about to change.

Standing at 109 pages, the kindle exclusive “The Shapeshifter” from Joseph Rubas, a five year veteran of the horror genre, tells the story of an ancient entity who feeds on fear…by taking the form of its victims greatest terror. To one of its victims it manifests as slasher movie villain Freddy Krueger, while another sees it as a giant snarling dog.

Set in Harlow, Montana, a fictional village nestled among the lush, rolling hills of the Scandinavia Valley, “The Shapeshifter” includes as characters: Dale Parker, the sheriff, who was wounded in Desert Storm; Allen Sommers, a Native American handyman fresh from a stint in prison; and “The Killer” a mysterious hitman in Harlow for business.

Rubas, who is twenty-four, has been writing for over twelve years. His first piece “The Ghostly Hitchhiker” appeared in the literary magazine The Storyteller in 2010. Since, his work has appeared in a number of well-known publications including The Horror Zine (an online magazine that has published specific giants such as Joe R. Lansdale, Piers Anthony, and John Saul, and S.T. Joshi’s Nameless Digest. His short fiction is collected in “Pocketful of Fear” (2012) and “After Midnight” (2014).


Joseph Rubas
1830 S. Clyde Morris Blvd

Apt 42

Daytona Beach FL, 32119
Ph: +413-813-9781