A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over the Earth.



(short story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning"), (screenplay) (as Frank Armitage)
1,406 ( 225)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jason Robards III ...
Family Man
John Lawrence ...
Susan Barnes ...
Wendy Brainard ...
Lucille Meredith ...
Susan Blanchard ...
Dana Bratton ...
Black Junkie


Nada, a down-on-his-luck construction worker, discovers a pair of special sunglasses. Wearing them, he is able to see the world as it really is: people being bombarded by media and government with messages like "Stay Asleep", "No Imagination", "Submit to Authority". Even scarier is that he is able to see that some usually normal-looking people are in fact ugly aliens in charge of the massive campaign to keep humans subdued. Written by Melissa Portell <mportell@s-cwis.unomaha.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Who are they? And what do they want? See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

4 November 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

John Carpenter's They Live  »

Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)


$13,008,928 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(4 channels)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


One of two major Hollywood studio science-fiction films released in the year of 1988 that featured alien characters assimilated into modern day society on the planet Earth. The films are Alien Nation (1988) and John Carpenter's They Live (1988). See more »


During the shoot out in the TV control room, Nada fumbles with his Desert Eagle automatic by trying to fan the hammer like a single action colt revolver. See more »


Nada: You, you're okay. This one: real fuckin' ugly.
See more »


Referenced in Traceroute (2016) See more »


Rock of Ages
Music by Thomas Hastings
Lyrics by Augustus Montague Toplady
Heard as one of the songs played on the church tape
See more »

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User Reviews

Classic from my youth
15 June 2005 | by (Perth, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

I remember first seeing They Live when I was 10 and I totally fell in love with this film. How could a ten year old not? There's wrestlers, aliens and a plot to take over the world. My friends and I quoted this film for weeks on end with the Bubble gum and kicking @$$ line being a favourite among all. The only real complaint that I have about the film is that the aliens when finally revealed are far too human. They basically look like a skeleton with bug eyes. Not a whole lot of energy seemed to go into their design. While They Live will never be remembered as a film that redefined the way films were made, it still to this day holds a place in my heart as one of the films that just defines your youth. It is fun, action packed and has just enough cool storyline to keep you interested from start to finish.

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