Up 85 this week

They Live (1988)

R  |   |  Action, Horror, Sci-Fi  |  4 November 1988 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.3/10 from 65,503 users   Metascore: 52/100
Reviews: 324 user | 165 critic | 10 from Metacritic.com

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)
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video


Celebrate IMDb's 25th Anniversary with Photos We Love

IMDb turns 25 on October 17! To celebrate, we put together a gallery of some of our favorite movie, TV, and event photos from the last 25 years.

See the Photos We Love

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 31 titles
created 04 Jul 2011
a list of 37 titles
created 25 Sep 2011
a list of 34 titles
created 05 Sep 2012
a list of 35 titles
created 23 Mar 2013
a list of 36 titles
created 4 months ago

Related Items

Search for "They Live" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: They Live (1988)

They Live (1988) on IMDb 7.3/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of They Live.

User Polls

3 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Action | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In 1997, when the US President crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in for a rescue.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine
Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An All-American trucker gets dragged into a centuries-old mystical battle in Chinatown.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun
The Fog (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Legend says that Antonio Bay was built in 1880 with blood money obtained from shipwrecked lepers but no one believes it. On the eve of the town's centennial many plan to attend the celebrations, including the murdered lepers.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The lone inhabitants of an abandoned police station are under attack by the overwhelming numbers of a seemingly unstoppable street gang.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer
Christine (1983)
Action | Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A nerdish boy buys a strange car with an evil mind of its own and his nature starts to change to reflect it.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul
Vampires (1998)
Action | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A vengeful vampire slayer must retrieve an ancient Catholic relic that, should it be acquired by vampires, will allow them to endure sunlight.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee
Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Snake Plissken is once again called in by the United States government to recover a potential doomsday device from Los Angeles, now an autonomous island where undesirables are deported.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Steve Buscemi, Stacy Keach
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A research team finds a mysterious cylinder in a deserted church. If opened, it could mean the end of the world.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Donald Pleasence, Lisa Blount, Jameson Parker
Halloween (1978)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

On Halloween night of 1963, 6-year old Michael Myers stabbed his sister to death. After sitting in a mental hospital for 15 years, Myers escapes and returns to Haddonfield to kill.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Moran
The Thing (1982)
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An insurance investigator begins discovering that the impact a horror writer's books have on his fans is more than inspirational.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Sam Neill, Jürgen Prochnow, Julie Carmen
Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

A small town's women give birth to unfriendly alien children posing as humans.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, Linda Kozlowski


Cast overview, first billed only:
Raymond St. Jacques ...
Jason Robards III ...
John Lawrence ...
Susan Barnes ...
Wendy Brainard ...
Lucille Meredith ...
Susan Blanchard ...
Dana Bratton ...


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


You see them on the street. You watch them on TV. You might even vote for one this fall. You think they're people just like you. You're wrong. Dead wrong. See more »


Action | Horror | Sci-Fi


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



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?


The DVD features a 2013 interview with director John Carpenter about the making of this movie and is cutely and similarly titled "He Lives" [See: He Lives: Interview with John Carpenter (2013)]. See more »


When Nada is falling through Holly's window, a pair of sunglasses can be seen falling with him outside as he first falls to the ground. However, a short time later, Holly is looking at the floor of her place where the sunglasses are now sitting. See more »


Street Preacher: This world may have blinded me, but the Lord has let me see.
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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Clever sci-fi film with current cultural relevance
14 December 2004 | by (The land of the Bunyips) – See all my reviews

An unemployed man in the 80s (of the WWF variety, complete with Mel-mullet) shows up in the big city looking for work, American Dream intact. He finds a "Hooverville"-like (perhaps Reaganville!) community that takes him in and finds work in construction. He notices that several of the providers are ostensibly up to no good and hold meetings at the local church. He stumbles upon a secret door and finds a stash of...80s sunglasses! After the community is destroyed by the police, our baffled working-class hero pops on a pair of the glasses, which allows him see the world as it really is, and wake up out of his sleeeepy false consciousness! Was Carpenter reading up on his Marx? Maybe! Either way, this sci-fi/action flick is fantastic, cheesy, and clever. "They Live" was obviously influenced by the excess of the 80s, but doesn't come across as dated and actually seems very relevant to the current cultural climate in the US. There are various flaws (namely, the creepy-in-a-bad-way Meg Foster and her character), but overall this is an excellent, amusing, and entertaining film. My Rating: 9.5/10

135 of 162 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Question about Holly? bueller55
Keith David's comments about They Live Treeman222
The Ending parxig
7.1?? What a load of cr@p!! DawsonRoseDawson
Am I the only one who thinks this movie is hilariously bad? cdhanger-1
Matrix not so original. joseph-702-233922
Discuss They Live (1988) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: