Tag Archive: Roddy Piper


Matthew Skiff poster art

Yesterday sci-fi icon (and ex-pro WWE Hall of Fame wrestler) Roddy Piper died at age 61 of a heart attack in his sleep, a great loss to his family, friends, and fans around the world.  For me, and undoubtedly thousands of others throughout this weekend, that meant my own tribute: dropping in to revisit the Blu-ray of John Carpenter’s They Live when I arrived home, the classic sci-fi masterwork starring Piper as a modern Sergio Leone-inspired drifter whose curiosity reveals the hero within.  And it means queueing up Carpenter’s soundtrack to that film in the car for the next week, including that immensely cool theme that followed Piper around that film.  Carpenter said yesterday about Piper, “Devastated to hear the news of my friend Roddy Piper’s passing today.  He was a great wrestler, a masterful entertainer and a good friend.”

I barely knew who “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was when I went to the opening of They Live back in November 1988.  When the name Roddy Piper appeared on the screen in all caps I made no connection that this was the same guy as the wrestler in the red kilt.  The trailer for They Live appeared to be typical B-movie sci-fi horror fare, yet it revealed that the film had some subliminal message concept that was intriguing.  For years my friends and family would watch the ads between movies at the Drive-In theater and wait for the furtively inserted single frames that would state in red and white “BUY” and similar sneaky words, presumably to create zombies of us all as we stumbled unwittingly to the concession stand to spend all our dollars on fresh popcorn from O’Dell’s.  So the concept was certainly worthy of a cool flick.  The movie?  It blew me away and I remember talking about it for days.  It has remained a standout among cult classics, and if I can proclaim any cult classic as worthy of repeated watching, They Live is #1.

Piper They Live

If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s no better time than now.  Piper, in an incredibly underplayed performance, stars as a loner trying to keep to himself.  He is thrown into the middle of a waking-up-to-reality by a group of grassroots rebels who discover that the wealthier elements of society (plucked right out of the Reagan years) are actually hideous aliens in cloaked bodies, attempting to keep us asleep through subliminal messages in our advertising.  When our hero discovers special sunglasses and later contact lenses that show the true world, we soon learn the secret behind the plot and why this is a classic sci-fi film.  They Live also has the best of Carpenter’s soundtracks–including the repetitive theme of our hero, following him and leading us through Piper’s dark discoveries.  And just like Steve McQueen’s Bullitt is known for its famous San Francisco car chase, here They Live has a standout best fight scene, a hilariously choreographed, iconic, hand-to-hand fight scene between Piper and co-star Keith David that stretches in excess of 15 screen minutes.

Speaking of Steve McQueen, if you ever want to create a list of the coolest performances to ever appear on film, you’d be remiss not to include Piper in They Live in your deliberations.  And as cool celebrities go, it goes without saying that the fact Piper wore a kilt already makes him surpass in coolness anyone else around who hasn’t worn one.

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I was lucky enough to meet comic book writer Jai Nitz at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego (pictured above with comics legend Stan Lee).  Jai Nitz has written for Marvel, DC, Image, Disney, and Dynamite.  He wrote Tron: Betrayal and is currently writing Kato Origins, Green Hornet: Parallel Lives, and Bring the Thunder at Dynamite Entertainment. We’re happy to welcome Jai to borg.com.

Every year longtime Comic-Con attendees comment that Comic-Con has changed with the addition of mega-panels for Hollywood movie franchises, production studios, video game companies, etc., implying a lesser focus on the “comic” in Comic-Con.  Being in the industry as a comic book writer, what is your take? 

JN:  A lot of Comic Con attendees don’t read comics.  That doesn’t bother me.  They still go to movies, play video games, and watch TV based on comics.  They pump a lot of money into the comic economy.  I don’t complain about that.  It’d be like saying we only wanted people who played pee-wee, high school, and college football to attend NFL games.  Why limit the fanbase?

What was the best part of Comic-Con for you this year?  Did you make it to any panels?

JN:  My best part of Comic Con was seeing the Grant Morrison & Deepak Chopra panel.  After the panel Grant hugged me and asked how my next project was going.  It was awesome.

Any favorite fan moments from this year?

JN:  I met one of the new actors on True Blood this season.  He put two and two together that my name was Jai, but I’m “Jai Nitz, comic book writer” and he’d read some of my most recent stuff.  He was a fan.  So that was uplifting.

Any advice for next year for fans or professionals coming to Comic-Con for the first time?

JN:  It’s tough to enjoy the con on the cheap.  It can be done, but be prepared to spend a ton of money.

Any peers in the comic book world you were able to meet up with again, or meet for the first time?

JN:  I always meet up with the wonderful Australians:  Nicola Scott (Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Torn), Craig Court, Tom Taylor (The Deep, Rombies, The Authority, Star Wars: Invasion), etc.  They’re the best people, but we only get to hang out at the big cons.

What work did you have available at the show this year?  Did you make any connections on new writing projects that you can share?

JN:  My latest writing work, Kato Origins, Bring the Thunder, and Tron: Betrayal were all out, so I capitalized on them as best I could.  I met with some producers and editors who were familiar with my work.  Who knows if any of those interactions will pan out.  It’s always a crap shoot… a crap shoot you only see the results of six months later.

Comic-Con shows off a lot of new movies, books, toys, you name it.  What was the coolest thing at Comic-Con you saw being introduced this year?

JN:  The Gestalt Comics initial launch of graphic novels.  The Deep and Torn are both awesome.

Here are some great pics of Jai with several familiar faces at this year’s Comic-Con:

Jai with Doctor Who Matt Smith and companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan)…

Jai with wrestling legend and They Live star Roddy Piper…

And Jai and another comics fave…Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons:

Thanks for sharing your Con experience with us, Jai!  You can follow Jai on Twitter at @JAINITZ1 or find him on Facebook at Jai Nitz.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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