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They Live (1988)

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4:54 | Clip
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
1,654 ( 175)
3 nominations. See more awards »
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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 ... 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:

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 »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The final of three movies with George 'Buck' Flower about alien visitation. The first was Starman (1984) (who played the cook who gave the alien a ride). The second was Mac and Me (1988). 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

Drifter: What's wrong with having it good for a change? Now they're gonna let us have it good if we just help 'em. They're gonna leave us alone, let us make some money. You can have a little taste of that good life too. Now, I know you want it. Hell, everybody does.
Frank: You'd do it to your own kind.
Drifter: What's the threat? We all sell out every day, might as well be on the winning team.
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

Featured in Mark Latham's Outsiders: Episode #1.4 (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Rock of Ages
(uncredited)
Music by Thomas Hastings
Lyrics by Augustus Montague Toplady
[Heard as one of the songs played on the church tape]
See more »

User Reviews

 
One of the Coolest and Underrated Films of the Late 1980's.
2 September 2005 | by hu675See all my reviews

John Nada (Roddy Piper) comes to L.A. to search for a Job. On the same working place, when he finds a job. John meets Frank (Keith David), Frank asks John to come along. Where Frank stays with poor people and a place to rest. Once he gets there, John watches television and sees some subliminal reporting by a scientist. The scientist is trying to get an important message on television by using frequency. John knows, there is something unusual going on at a house nearby. After a small band of cops are beating these poor people trying to find, where does that frequency is coming from. The next day, John goes to the house nearby and he finds one thing an open box. That box was hidden in the wall and when John open that box. He finds nothing but sunglasses. When he takes one of them, John sees a whole different world. A Bizarre look of L.A. in black & white with images full of subliminal advertising messages are visible though special glasses. Then he notice the only purpose of these glasses are the civilians are mixed with aliens population amongst them!

Directed by John Carpenter (Assault on Precient 13, Ghosts of Mars, The Thing-1982) made a extremely well made film mixed with action/sci-fi elements and a refreshing scene of humor. Piper is good here, he has some memorable scenes with some funny dialogue. The film's best line from Piper is "I come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass but i'm all out of bubble gum". There is also an unforgettable scene with Piper and David, when Piper asks David to put the glasses on. When David refuses to put them on. Piper and David get into a very funny fistfight scene that turned into a classic scene. The film might have a few flaws, only depending a matter of personal taste. The Alien Make-Up effects are extremely awful but intentionally funny. The film ends with a great pay-off. The film is hilarious at times and always fun to watch. Since this film like most Carpenter's works become a Cult Classic.

DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer and an good-Dolby Surround 2.0 Sound. Too Bad, Universal didn't release a Special Edition of this landmark independent film. The DVD from Europe, Carpenter and Piper recorded an running commentary track for this film in a two disc special edition. When in the U.S. get out Special Edition ? DVD doesn't have no features. This is a amusing satiric sci-fi adventure. Underrated to be sure, the film ages well despite awful alien make-up. Based on a Short Story by Ray Faraday Nelson titled "Three O'Clock in the Morning". Screenwriter "Frank Armitage" is actually director Carpenter. Panavision. (****/*****).


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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:

$4,827,903, 6 November 1988

Gross USA:

$13,008,928

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$13,008,928
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (4 channels)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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