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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

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

When the money, from Nada's point of view, changes from regular bills to the "THIS IS YOUR GOD" bills, the folds in the paper are different and there is one less bill. See more »

Quotes

Bearded Man: We could be pets, we could be food, but all we really are is livestock.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Kent Hovind: An Atheist's Worst Nightmare (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Down by the Riverside
(uncredited)
Traditional
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.


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