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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:

"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum." 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

All the various aliens throughout the movie, both male and female, were portrayed by stunt coordinator Jeff Imada but the credits lists a female ghoul as played by Michelle Costello and obviously there are a few scenes with multiple ghouls onscreen. Imada played the ghouls who had close-ups/speaking parts. "He could fit into the costumes," says Carpenter before Piper adds "and he didn't mind the pumps. When you have 14 black belts you can wear pumps!" 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

[Dollar Note with subliminal message]: THIS IS YOUR GOD
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 »


Soundtracks

Coming to L.A.
(uncredited)
Written by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth
Performed by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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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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