They Live (1988) Poster



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The line "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubble gum" was ad-libbed by Roddy Piper. According to director John Carpenter, Piper had taken the line from a list of ideas he had for his pro wrestling interviews.
The big fight sequence was designed, rehearsed and choreographed in the back-yard of director John Carpenter's production office. The fight between Nada (Roddy Piper) and Frank (Keith David) was only supposed to last twenty seconds, but Piper and David decided to fight it out for real, only faking the hits to the face and groin. They rehearsed the fight for three weeks. Carpenter was so impressed he kept the five minutes and twenty seconds scene intact.
Roddy Piper, being a married man at the time of filming, refused to take his wedding band off. That's why in several scenes you can see a wedding ring on.
Roddy Piper's character never gives his name nor is he referred to by name throughout the entire movie. He is simply referred to as "Nada" in the credits, which means "nothing" in Spanish. The name is most likely a reference to George Nada, the main character of Ray Nelson's short story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning," which was the basis for 'They Live'.
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.
Graffiti artist Shepard Fairey got his "obey" name from this film.
The only character given a first and last name is Holly Thompson (Meg Foster).
According to a title-card in the made-for-DVD short documentary He Lives: Interview with John Carpenter (2013), "They Live opened at the #1 at the US box office. And disappeared from theaters soon afterwards".
For years after the film's release - and even on the movie's DVD commentary - Roddy Piper maintained that the film was based on an actual incident in the 1950s in which a company manufactured a TV that planted subliminal messages in women's brains instructing them to make extravagant purchases. Piper was unaware that the "documentary" he had seen, L'affaire Bronswik, was in fact a comedy short produced in 1978.
The film was made and released about twenty-five years after its source short story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning" by Ray Nelson had been first published in 1963. According to John Carpenter, this movie was also based on an Eclipse Comics comic-book adaptation of this story.
Many movie posters for the film featured a long blurb that read: "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.".
Director John Carpenter had "final cut" on the film according to He Lives: Interview with John Carpenter (2013).
All the various aliens throughout the movie, both male and female, were portrayed by stunt coordinator Jeff Imada.
The second and final of two times that director John Carpenter worked with Alive Films. The first was the previous year's Prince of Darkness (1987).
Roddy Piper was reported to have complained to producers when a pair of sunglasses he stole failed to reveal any aliens with the exception of those on set.
Actress Meg Foster was cast after director John Carpenter had seen her performance in the Canadian film Ticket to Heaven (1981).
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).
Writer-director John Carpenter has said of this movie that it was a critique of Reaganomics, a "vehicle to take on Reaganism".
The film is partially shot in black-and-white which involved only the scenes and sequences where the aliens were visible to the audience when characters are wearing the sunglasses for most of the film. But this visual aesthetic ceases towards the end of the picture whereupon the aliens become visible in color for the film's final act.
Second and final of two collaborations [to date, July 2014] of actor Keith David and director John Carpenter who had previously both worked together on The Thing (1982) around six years earlier.
SQ1's video for "Can You Feel" references the scene of revelation in "They Live".
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In a certain point in the movie, the main character says, when facing the aliens for the first time (due to the dizziness caused by the glasses, he isn't aware they're aliens) that "You need a Brazilian plastic surgeon". That's probably a nod to then internationally famous Brazilian plastic surgeon Ivo Pitanguy.
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The aliens superficially resemble walking, rotting corpses. Carpenter didn't want the aliens to look like the "high-tech" creatures of other science fiction films. He decided that since these beings were corrupting humanity, they themselves should resemble corruptions of human beings.
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Often cited by British author David Icke as John Carpenter's best film.
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)].
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Tommy Morrison's first movie
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After finishing They Live, John Carpenter was gonna direct an action horror film Shadow Company sometime around 1989. Written by Shane Black and Fred Dekker, movie was gonna be produced by Walter Hill (who also co-wrote some of the script) and with Kurt Russell in main role. The script was about group of US special forces soldiers who died during Vietnam war and years later after their bodies are brought back the soldiers, who were members of army project which involved some dark experiments, rise up from the graves soon after they were buried and proceed on raiding the armory from nearby army base and attack the town in which they were buried, killing everyone in it and wiping it off the ground during Christmas night. Due to some problems in pre-production, the movie was never made, although original script has gained cult following from fans of Carpenter, Black and Dekker.
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Director Cameo 

John Carpenter: Uncredited, as the voice that says "sleep".


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

When Frank (Keith David) angrily asks Nada (Roddy Piper) how many people he had killed, Nada replies that they weren't people. The only human character killed by Nada is Holly Thompson (Meg Foster).

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