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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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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:

"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

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

"Now we're about to start one of the great fight scenes in movie history," says Carpenter, and he's not wrong. "It's a real fight. It's not a flashy fight in terms of you guys don't have kung-fu going, you don't have martial arts, you're not flying through the air. You're just going at it." Piper and David rehearsed the fight in Carpenter's back yard for over two months. Carpenter told Piper during production that he wanted to include a suplex in the fight, to which Piper replied "Which one?" before attempting to demonstrate a few on the director himself. Carpenter managed to avoid falling victim to those, but he did consent to letting Piper subject him to a sleeper hold and vouches for its authenticity. See more »

Goofs

When Nada takes Holly captive and forces her to drive, the passenger side door is unlocked, and then locked again, between shots. See more »

Quotes

Frank: [picks up Nada] Man, I told you, I don't want to be in-VOLVED!
[punches Nada back to the ground]
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 Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Underground
(uncredited)
Written by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth
Performed by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Highly Underrated
14 January 2005 | by Miss_MiChiMiSee all my reviews

I have to say something here. This movie is actually very good. It was a mixture of sci-fi and political and sociological imagery. I thought the fact that the turncoat working with the aliens that were brainwashing the public was employed in the media was a brilliant way of showing how the media moguls consider us to be sheeple and use their power to persuade any way they see fit. This movie was actually quite well down, considering it did not have a blockbuster budget.

I would rather watch this than waste my time on the Matrix, which I think is a complete waste of time. The main plot of the movie was Nada discovering a worldwide conspiracy that used subliminal messages to "herd the sheep". Is this not a metaphor of what we see ever day? The media, commercials, billboards, etc, use subliminal messaging to encourage the actions of the public at large.

John Carpenter did a wonderful job. Roddy Piper's acting abilities were definitely above average, which is a lot more that I will ever to be able to say about anything Keanu Reeves has ever done. As usual, Keith David turned in a great performance. The reason this a cult classic is because it is a very good movie that requires the watcher to think.


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