They influence our decisions without us knowing it. They numb our senses without us feeling it. They control our lives without us realizing it. They live.

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
599 ( 356)
4 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

Piper commented on the first scene showing hidden messages in the TV broadcast by adding that it has a historical precedent in L'affaire Bronswik (1978). It refers to a company that manufactured a special television designed to feature subliminal messages for the purposes of advertising suggestion. "All of a sudden a housewife would come home with 50lbs of dog food, and she didn't even own a dog!" "Very truthful!" he adds after Carpenter scoffs a bit. The Bronswik Affair is actually a mockumentary made in the '70s about manufactured consumerism. See more »

Goofs

During the alley fight, Frank drops the sunglasses and tries to step on them before Nada stops him. The glasses fall on the lenses, but after Nada is kicked in the head and the camera pans down, the glasses are facing up. See more »

Quotes

Nada: I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum.
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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 The Wardrobe (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Down by the Riverside
(uncredited)
Traditional
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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.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

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
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (4 channels)| Dolby Surround 7.1 | Dolby Atmos

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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