I was shocked and saddened to learn about the passing of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper a couple weeks back. In addition to being one of my favorite wrestlers of all time, Roddy Piper teamed with my favorite director John Carpenter in 1988 for a movie that has had a profound influence on my own work–They Live.
At the time They Live came out, both Carpenter and Piper were both still huge in their respective industries. Carpenter had been on a decade-long directorial run of amazing genre movies that included Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York, The Thing, Christine, Big Trouble in Little China and Prince of Darkness (and that’s only about half of them). Roddy Piper had already been in professional wrestling for a decade, and had been a mainstay in the WWF since 1984. His “Piper’s Pit” segment that ran from ‘84 to ‘87 pretty much cemented him as the greatest heel in the history of the WWF, and is still one of the most popular bits ever done.
So, imagine my giddiness when I found out that John Carpenter had a new sci-fi/horror movie coming out, and that Rowdy Roddy Piper was the star. Even better, Keith David–who was amazing in The Thing–was co-starring!
And then I saw the trailer–and my head exploded.
Alien overlords, corporate conspiracies. magic sunglasses, subliminal mind control, portals to who knows where–does it get any better? And that bubblegum line? COME ON. Amazing.
I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t seen the movie yet, but this is one you need to check out. It’s a bit of a slow burn and it’s not straight up horror per se, but I absolutely love it. And I think Piper was a perfect fit for the role of Nada.
I saw They Live when it originally came out (yes, I am old), and I’ve seen it about fifty times since. I’ve written and talked about how John Carpenter is a huge influence on my work many times in the past, and They Live is a movie that definitely gets a lot of nods in my writing. In fact, my first book Courting the King in Yellow is my homage to Carpenter movies, and fans of both They Live and Halloween III: Season of the Witch will find plenty of Easter eggs for both of those films.
When I heard about Roddy’s passing, I watched They Live again, this time with my daughter, who had never seen it. I also told her about the time I met Roddy at a comic show in New York, and what a great guy he was in person. He did an intro for the Secret Identity podcast, and you can watch the video clip of it below.
Rest in peace, Roddy. You will be missed.