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They Live (1988)

7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 53,868 users   Metascore: 52/100
Reviews: 298 user | 142 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.

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(short story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning"), (screenplay)
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Title: They Live (1988)

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

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 »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 November 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

John Carpenter's They Live  »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$13,008,928 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Carpenter wanted a truly rugged individual to play Nada. He cast wrestler Roddy Piper in the lead role after seeing him in WrestleMania III (1987). Carpenter remembered Keith David's performance in The Thing (1982) and wrote the role of Frank specifically for the actor. See more »

Goofs

As Nada and Frank are trying to get to the roof of the television building, they go down a hall as a particular worker is running away from them. In the next shot, the same worker is even closer to them than before. See more »

Quotes

Television Host: The feeling is definitely there. It's a new morning in America... fresh, vital. The old cynicism is gone. We have faith in our leaders. We're optimistic as to what becomes of it all. It really boils down to our ability to accept. We don't need pessimism. There are no limits.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Dr. Frankenstein's Wax Museum of the Hungry Dead (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

I Love to Praise Him
(uncredited)
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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


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