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They Live (1988)

R  |   |  Action, Horror, Sci-Fi  |  4 November 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 65,297 users   Metascore: 52/100
Reviews: 322 user | 165 critic | 10 from

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)
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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 <>

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?


Often cited by British author David Icke as John Carpenter's best film. See more »


The angle of the sun continually changes during the alley fight. See more »


Nada: I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum.
See more »


Referenced in Frankenstein's Hungry Dead (2013) See more »


Down by the Riverside
See more »

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User Reviews

Good for a night of not-so-serious movies
25 February 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This film has a commentary as relevant today as in the 80s. Upper class people are actually aliens corrupting America. And the only way to see them is to wear special sunglasses that our hero, Nada, stumbles upon. This film has some cool ideas: the way all magazines and signs have subliminal messages, the paranoia, and the B-movie-on-purpose-so-it-feels-like-a-B-movie feel. It also has some really great cheesy one liners which I don't wish to spoil. Let it be known though, by the end of the movie you might just see a little of Ash from Evil Dead in Nada. The film also has a fight scene around the middle that is particularly funny to watch because it keeps going forever.

Definitely a fun flick to watch if you are light hearted and can enjoy the B-movie vibe it gives off.

77 of 108 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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