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