John Carpenter’s ‘They Live’ & ‘Christine’ Are Getting 2023 Theatrical Re-Releases for Their Anniversaries

photo from the 1988 movie
© Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection
John Carpenter's sci-fi/action/horror cult classic They Live turns 35 in 2023

You can get an early jump on 2023’s Spooky Season when two of horror movie master John Carpenter‘s ’80s classics — They Live and Christine — have limited (two days only for each) theatrical re-releases over the first two weeks in September to commemorate the upcoming anniversaries of their original releases, via Fathom Events.

They Live (1988) 35th Anniversary Theatrical Re-Release — Sunday, Sept. 3, and Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023

poster for the 35th anniversary re-release of the 1988 movie "They Live." It is illustrated extreme closeup of star Roddy Piper's face, as he is lowering a pair of sunglasses that in the film allow the wearer to see aliens disguised as humans. One of those aliens is seen reflected in the outside right lens of Piper's glasses. Below that is the title "John Carpenter's They Live 35th anniversary September 3 & 6 only"

© Universal

Up first among these Fathom anniversary re-releases is Carpenter’s fun (and with a message!) sci-fi/action/horror cult classic They Live, which originally opened in theaters Nov. 4, 1988.

Roddy Piper plays a drifter (unnamed in the film, but referred to as “Nada” in the credits), who discovers, via special sunglasses, that our perceived “ruling class” is actually made up of creepy-looking, skull-faced aliens that are masking themselves as humans and using global warming to transform the Earth into a world more like their own.

These aliens are also manipulating actual human beings to remain distracted and asleep as to what is happening. People are told to simply continue breeding, consuming and conforming to the status quo through subliminal messages from the aliens via mass media, which those wearing those special glasses can also see through.

scene from the 1988 movie "They Live." Roddy Piper's character, Nada, has entered a building and is standing next to an American flag. He is wearing a plaid shirt, jeans and dark sunglasses and firing a rifle at the aliens he is able to see with those glasses.

© Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

Roddy Piper as Nada, who is fresh out of bubble gum and therefore left with no alternative but to kick ass


They Live was the second lead role in a feature film for Piper (after playing a character named Sam Hell in Hell Comes to Frogtown, released earlier in ’88), who at the time was on hiatus from his pro wrestling career as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.

It certainly remains his most well known movie, particularly for his character’s famous quote — “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubble gum” — and for his epic (and epically hilarious), nearly six-minute long fistfight with costar Keith David‘s character, Frank Armitage, as Nada desperately tries to get Frank to wake up as to what is going on.

In addition to directing the film, Carpenter also wrote its screenplay, which he adapted from the 1963 short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” by sci-fi writer Ray Nelson. And, as he has often done, he also composed the musical score for the movie, along with frequent collaborator Alan Howarth.

Also starring Meg Foster, Raymond St. Jacques and George Buck Flower, They Live was co-produced by indie studio Carolco Pictures, which was then at its peak, and at the time a very recognizable name and logo seen at the beginning of blockbusters like the original three Rambo movies and Schwarzenegger‘s Total Recall, before the company ultimately went out of business later in 1995 after nearly 30 years in operation.

Fathom’s 35th anniversary theatrical screenings of They Live will be on Sunday, Sept. 3, and Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023, at select theaters. For theaters, times and ticket info, click here.

Christine (1983) 40th Anniversary Theatrical Re-Release — Sunday, Sept. 10, and Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023

poster for the 40th anniversary theatrical re-release of the 1983 movie "Christine." The illustration is seen from the view of the driver of a car, which appears to be a woman based on the eyes we can see looking back at us in the rear view mirror. Those eyes are widened in terror, because immediately in front of this car, and heading toward it, is Christine, the haunted red 1958 Plymouth Fury automobile. An eerie pale blue hue tints most of the poster, except for Christine, which is red, and the movie's title Christine, spelled out below the rear view mirror.

© Columbia Pictures

The spooky retro thrills don’t end after They Live!

The following week, experience or re-experience the project on which the master of movie horror met the master of written horror with a two-day-only, big-screen 40th anniversary re-release of Christine, Carpenter’s adaptation of the novel by Stephen King.

King’s book had been released in the spring of 1983, with Carpenter’s film following not long after: It was originally released in theaters on Dec. 9, 1983.

photo from the 1983 movie "Christine." It pictures Malcolm Danare as "Moochie," one of the characters who had been bullying Arnie, who owns the haunted 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine. Christine is now, in this scene, chasing Moochie down a very narrow, dark alley, headlights beaming as the heavier-set Moochie desperately runs with terror in his eyes.

© Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Christine has no respect for pedestrians’ right-of-way


Set in the late ’70s, the story follows nerdy teen Arnie (Keith Gordon) who buys a 1958 Plymouth Fury that ends up being haunted, or is maybe even demonic; the opening scene where the car is first being assembled on the line seems to show that this vehicle was born bad.

The Fury certainly begins to transform Arnie in a frightening way as she becomes possessive of him and threatening toward any one who may come between her and the teen. A history of death has surrounded the car, and that continues under her new owner. But in Christine’s defense, she will turn the radio on and crank some cool, old-time rock ‘n’ roll tunes as she tries to murder you.

Christine was the third of three feature films adapted from King’s work in 1983. It was also one of two of those — along with The Dead Zone, an October release starring Christopher Walken and directed by David Cronenberg, another master of creepy cinema — that were very good.

Both of those titles, frankly, still remain among the top tier King film adaptations. 1983’s other King movie, Cujo, which had come out in August, was not too great, however.

Along with Gordon’s compelling performance as Arnie, Christine is also propelled by great costars including John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, Robert Prosky and the always-fantastic Harry Dean Stanton.

And, of course, Carpenter’s direction helps amp up not only the suspense but also the characterizations of both the people and the titular car. His visual technique is again enhanced by another memorably eerie musical score that he created with Howarth (parts of which sound a little like the score the duo created a year earlier for Halloween III: Season of the Witch, but I’m certainly not complaining!).

Fathom’s 40th anniversary theatrical screenings of Christine will be on Sunday, Sept. 10, and Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, at select theaters. For theaters, times and ticket info, click here.