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They Live (1988) Poster

(1988)

Trivia

Jump to: Director Cameo (1) | Spoilers (1)
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.
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 communicators that the guards use are the P.K.E. meters from Ghostbusters (1984).
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'.
The eponymous scene in South Park: Cripple Fight (2001) was taken blow-by-blow from the fight between Frank and Nada in the alley.
Graffiti artist Shepard Fairey got his "obey" name from this film.
There is a thinly veiled jab at Siskel & Ebert (1986), with both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert as aliens. "Siskel" is denouncing George A. Romero and John Carpenter as too violent. (In fact, Siskel had written a scathing review of Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968).)
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.
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.
The only character given a first and last name is Holly Thompson (Meg Foster).
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).
The line "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubble gum" was later used in the classic 1996 game Duke Nukem 3D (1996) by the Duke himself Jon St. John.
All the various aliens throughout the movie, both male and female, were portrayed by stunt coordinator Jeff Imada.
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.".
SQ1's video for "Can You Feel" references the scene of revelation in "They Live".
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Actress Meg Foster was cast after director John Carpenter had seen her performance in the Canadian film Ticket to Heaven (1981).
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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.
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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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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".
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Director John Carpenter had "final cut" on the film according to He Lives: Interview with John Carpenter (2013).
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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.
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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.
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Writer-director John Carpenter has said of this movie that it was a critique of Reaganomics, a "vehicle to take on Reaganism".
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Director Cameo 

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

Spoilers 

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).

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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