When we watch and subsequently critique a movie—whether professionally or in conversation among friends—there’s always the temptation to talk about it as if what ended up on the screen was exactly what it was. what directors, screenwriters and the rest of the minds responsible for a project had devised on paper; and this, despite the fact that we tend to fall into it, is still a mistake.
The gestation process of a feature film from the moment the original idea arises until a final cut is delivered is subject to countless processes in which, on many occasions—more than it should—creatives have little to do, and that can completely change the final result. And who better to illustrate this than John Carpenter himself.
Capitalists no thanks
In 1988, the master of horror premiered what many consider one of his last great works under the title ‘They are alive’—in my opinion his masterpiece was released in 1994, but this is another topic to be discussed at another time—; a hilarious cocktail of action, paranoia and aliens starring Roddy Piper in his sauce giving life to one of the most badass characters in the filmmaker’s filmography.
In the film, Nada —that’s how Piper’s character is known— confronts an extraterrestrial race that has infiltrated Earth, controlling the population through subliminal messages that invite obedience, reproduction, conformism, and consumption. . An acid critique of the Reagan administration and unleashed capitalism that reigned at the time that did not make too much grace to the bosses of the study.
In an interview with Variety, Carpenter, with a laugh, explained how the producers of ‘They’re Alive’ they tried to get rid of the sociopolitical reading of the film transforming his antagonistic creatures into nothing less than cannibals. A display of originality that, luckily, did not come to fruition.
“Yes, I got some notes (laughs). Yes, and I totally ignored them, but they didn’t want the aliens to be capitalists. They wanted to gut the whole movie. ‘Why don’t you make them cannibals from outer space?’ It was ridiculous. But hey, we did it and I got to make the movie I wanted.”
So, you know. If one day you see a film that you don’t quite like on a narrative level, think that perhaps it is not an alleged malpractice of the scriptwriter, but of the tricks of the executives of the ties and the briefcases.