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They Live (1988)

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

Director:

Writers:

(short story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning"), (screenplay) (as Frank Armitage)
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3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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John Lawrence ...
Susan Barnes ...
Brown Haired Woman
...
Black Revolutionary
Wendy Brainard ...
Lucille Meredith ...
Susan Blanchard ...
Ingenue
...
Foreman
Dana Bratton ...
Black Junkie
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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

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 November 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

John Carpenter's They Live  »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$4,827,000 (USA) (6 November 1988)

Gross:

$13,008,928 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(4 channels)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Another project in which John Carpenter was involved in around 1988 and 1989, after he finished They Live, was action thriller titled Pincushion. Script for the film was written by screenwriter John Raffo and later version of the script was co-written by Jeb Stuart, who wrote the screenplay for Die Hard (1988) a year before, and Carpenter also worked on the script. The script was described as "female version of The Road Warrior (1981)". The plot of the script took place in post apocalyptic America suffering a plague after a biological disaster, and it was about female mercenary whose job is to take a child cross-country to an emergency medical research center but she only has few days to deliver him, which makes her job race against the time. The boy - the title "pincushion"- had his blood medically altered at birth to develop into a vaccine against the plague. In the course of protecting the boy, female mercenary battles the minions of a corrupt military leader who wants custody of the boy for financial and political gain, and all the other enemies that she encounters along the way.

Carpenter was going to make the film for Columbia Pictures and he wanted Jamie Lee Curtis to play the main role, but Columbia producers wanted to cast singer Cher because of the contract they had with her, and once Cher was hired she and producers fired Carpenter and had the script re-written by other writers, only for entire project to end up being cancelled. Carpenter said in later interviews how Pincushion and another unproduced script, action zombie horror Shadow Company, are two films which he regrets he never got to make. Over the following years Pincushion script was being sold and bought by many movie studios who kept trying to get the movie made by having script re-written many times by other writers, directors such as John Woo and Rob Cohen were considered to direct the film, and actresses like Sharon Stone, Demi Moore and Madonna were considered to play the main heroine. The film however was never made, but even today the original script is considered by many people in movie industry to be one of the best unproduced movie scripts ever written. See more »

Goofs

After Nada tells the primping alien woman "That's like pouring perfume on a pig," the actor's alien hand glove ends before her sleeve, revealing her bare arm. See more »

Quotes

Frank: We can't be the only ones who can see, we've got to find the people who made these.
Nada: Yeah, if any of them are still alive.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Brute Sanity (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Down by the Riverside
(uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
8 September 2001 | by (Portland, OR) – See all my reviews

They Live. Where to begin? Yes, it is goofy. Yes the production value is very low. Yes the action is standard. The guns never empty. The fights are poorly choreographed at times. But that, my friends, is not the point.

This film was an attack on the Regan era. An attack on the rampant consumerism of the 80's. But open your mind. Saying that it's just an attack on the 80's is merely shutting your eyes. Telling yourself that things have gotten better. Sorry to disapoint you, but they haven't.

Rowdy Roddy Piper puts on some sunglasses. The world changes. Billboards now say Obey or Sleep. Or Marry and Reproduce. Magazines no longer have articles or advertisements. They are blank white pages with said phrases upon them. Money now are white pieces of paper that say This is Your God. Boy oh boy are they right.

So watch They Live. Grab some beer and score some corn. Enjoy the cheese. Enjoy the great one-liners. But also pay attention to the lines that sum up the truth. Remember the point of the film. Then go outside. Re-enter the corporate world outside your door.

You won't need special glasses to see the truth.


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