7.3/10
98,598
379 user 193 critic

They Live (1988)

Clip
4:54 | Clip

Watch Now

From $9.99 on Prime Video

ON TV
ON DISC
ALL
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)
Reviews
Popularity
1,751 ( 30)

John Carpenter: Defining "Carpenteresque"

"Kubrickian" is in the Oxford English Dictionary, but "Carpentersque" isn't. Here's why John Carpenter's style and influence should have earned him the honor.

Travel "Through the Lens"

3 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In 1997, when the U.S. president crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in to rescue him.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine
Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A rough-and-tumble trucker helps rescue his friend's fiance from an ancient sorcerer in a supernatural battle beneath Chinatown.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun
The Fog (1980)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

An unearthly fog rolls into a small coastal town exactly 100 years after a ship mysteriously sank in its waters.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A research team finds a mysterious cylinder in a deserted church. If opened, it could mean the end of the world.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Donald Pleasence, Lisa Blount, Jameson Parker
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An insurance investigator begins discovering that the impact a horror writer's books have on his fans is more than inspirational.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Sam Neill, Jürgen Prochnow, Julie Carmen
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An unlikely partnership between a Highway Patrol Officer, two criminals and a station secretary is formed to defend a defunct Los Angeles precinct office against a siege by a bloodthirsty street gang.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer
Vampires (1998)
Action | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Recovering from an ambush that killed his entire team, a vengeful vampire slayer must retrieve an ancient Catholic relic that, should it be acquired by vampires, will allow them to walk in sunlight.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee
Christine (1983)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A nerdish boy buys a strange car with an evil mind of its own and his nature starts to change to reflect it.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul
The Thing (1982)
Horror | Mystery | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A research team in Antarctica is hunted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Snake Plissken is once again called in by the United States government to recover a potential doomsday device from Los Angeles, now an autonomous island where undesirables are deported.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Steve Buscemi, Stacy Keach
Halloween (1978)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night 1963, Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois to kill again.

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Moran
The Evil Dead (1981)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.

Director: Sam Raimi
Stars: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor
Edit

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 ... Female Interviewer
Susan Blanchard ... Ingenue
Norman Alden ... Foreman
Dana Bratton Dana Bratton ... Black Junkie
Edit

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:

Obey or else - alien invasion of the subliminal kind... See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 November 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

They Live See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,827,903, 6 November 1988

Gross USA:

$13,008,928

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Carpenter sent Piper and Keith David off to lunch one day and instructed them to remain in character. The goal was camaraderie, not alien hunting, and it seemed to work. "You came back and I said 'Well what happened?' and you said 'We didn't have to say much, there we were together.'" Piper adds they were just comfortable with each other. See more »

Goofs

As Nada and Frank are trying to get to the roof of the television building, they go down a hall as a particular worker is running away from them. In the next shot, the same worker is even closer to them than before. See more »

Quotes

Frank: Listen, man, I don't like anyone following me if I don't know why they are.
Nada: Well, I don't join up with anyone, unless I know where they're going.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The screenplay writer for "They Live" which is credited to "Frank Armitage", does not exist. John Carpenter used many pseudonyms when giving credit to his works in films. With his vast amount of work that he did himself, (directing, producing, writing and composing the musical scores), he did not want to appear to be braggadocios and vain by having his name appear over and over in the credits of his movies. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Bill Hicks: United States of Advertising (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Really good movie; Intelligent, deep, funny, entertaining...
16 January 2006 | by mkw-5See all my reviews

... And of course very well made, because it's from Carpenter from his good ole days (actually I haven't seen his recent films, from the nineties or so, so I cannot say how good his "days" are now; They might be good also). The plot is bravely "stupid" (if you look the surface), but also "secretly" intelligent and deep, just the same thing as in very many scifi, horror, and even action movies: You have to look at them with open eyes to get the messages. I think this movie is much more interesting, and much more realistic and intellectual, than let's say some french art movie (Farthenheit 951 or something). This is real art. It's from this world, not from some artificial art movie marshmallow fantasy-world. Of course it's very funny film also. You may see the main actor (he's some pro-wrestler?) as some kind of a walking joke. But actually he is perfect for this role. He is like some mythological hero, just like Schwarzenegger or so. He is a symbol. The movie is filled with really good jokes and one-liners that you'll never forget. For example, when the main character comes to a bank, in his intent to kill some "aliens", he shouts: "I'm here to chew bubblegum and kick ass! And I'm all outta bubblegum..." And another comment from him, after he has had a ten-minute long fight with somebody: "Ain't love great!" This is a great cult movie. I'm sure there are many people who watch this regularly, with or without friends, and remember all (at least the good) lines. Perfect entertainment. Recommended.


90 of 134 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 379 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed