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They Live (1988)

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

Director:

John Carpenter

Writers:

Ray Nelson (short story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning"), John Carpenter (screenplay) (as Frank Armitage)
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Popularity
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Roddy Piper ... Nada
Keith David ... Frank
Meg Foster ... Holly
George 'Buck' Flower ... Drifter
Peter Jason ... Gilbert
Raymond St. Jacques ... Street Preacher
Jason Robards III ... Family Man
John Lawrence John Lawrence ... Bearded Man
Susan Barnes Susan Barnes ... Brown Haired Woman
Sy Richardson ... Black Revolutionary
Wendy Brainard Wendy Brainard ... Family Man's Daughter
Lucille Meredith Lucille Meredith ... Female Interviewer
Susan Blanchard ... Ingenue
Norman Alden ... Foreman
Dana Bratton 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:

Who are they? And what do they want? See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 November 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

They Live See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,827,000, 6 November 1988, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$13,008,928
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (4 channels)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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 pulls Frank to his feet and puts the glasses on him, Frank's sweater is pulled up, revealing his undershirt. In the next shot, the sweater is back in place. See more »

Quotes

Frank: [picks up Nada] Man, I told you, I don't want to be in-VOLVED!
[punches Nada back to the ground]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Retarded Animal Babies (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

A Message
(uncredited)
Written by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth
Performed by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Chilling Source Material, Dystopian Movie
26 March 2012 | by Captain_ObviuosSee all my reviews

The short story upon which this movie is inspired, Ray Nelson's "8 O'Clock in the Morning," should be read before completely understanding how disturbing the source material really is. Chilling and sparse, it is essentially a first draft of a plot, expanded cleverly by John Carpenter, with the same great ending. (Carpenter loves to end his movies with zingers, in case you had not noticed!) I would highly recommend fans of this movie read Nelson's story to get a different, darker, tale than the one Carpenter made, and with good reason: In the story, you are never really sure if its protagonist is really a nut or if he has been programmed to act the way he does, because it seems his grip on reality is tenuous at best, and so everything you are reading could be a complete derangement -- or it could all be true. People kill each other daily over just such obviously mad conclusions.


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