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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:

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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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

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 (1978), was in fact a comedy short. See more »

Goofs

When Nada is falling through Holly's window, a pair of sunglasses can be seen falling with him outside as he first falls to the ground. However, a short time later, Holly is looking at the floor of her place where the sunglasses are now sitting. See more »

Quotes

Writing on Money: This is your God.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Dazed and Confused (1993) 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

 
I am all out of bubblegum.
13 December 2014 | by WakenPayneSee all my reviews

I saw this a while ago but for some reason I never got round to reviewing it until tonight. I am a fan of John Carpenter's work in the 70's and 80's... I haven't seen that much of his 90's work but anyway I decided to see this and it actually is a lot of fun to watch.

So the plot is that a drifter gets a job at a construction site in another town but in that town he sees multiple... assuredly crazy people who believe that some kind of mind control is going on between the entire human race. One thing leads to another and he finds a pair of sunglasses that manage to let him see that all billboard signs are replaced with words like "obey" and some people are not people but aliens that manage to assimilate our society. The end result is the aliens have all the wealth and power and basically use this planet to take all it's resources.

So this movie is pretty much in the genre of others such as Invasion Of The Body Snatchers but one of my biggest problems with it is that through unclear intention I don't really know if it's meant to be a movie mocking it or playing it as a straight up action movie. I mean I like this movie but my expectations are rather confused when the guy can see Aliens through sunglasses and there are people who know how ridiculous that sounds, like it's playing it self aware along with some of the effects used for the alien spaceships seem like it's out of a 50's sci-fi.

Aside from that as I said I really enjoyed it. Stuff like the acting seems good in places but a little hokey in others from people like Roddy Piper although I don't know if that was the intention. I also think some of the effects are good and the idea of John Carpenter directing something like Invasion Of The Body Snatchers seemed like a good idea. I honestly think that if I saw the intention more clearly this could be up there with the best of his work.


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