They Live (1988)

DVD Cover (Scream Factory)
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Overall Rating 68%
Overall Rating
Ranked #1,180
...out of 16,898 movies
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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. --IMDb
Review by Tristan
Added: September 16, 2007
Some movies are just better when you're a kid. Yuppie aliens planning to take over the world, only to be thwarted by 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper and his magical sunglasses, is a formula for success. When you're 9 years old. The more Carpenter films I watch, the more I think his huge successes were a fluke. Time and again I feel that Craven far outdoes Carpenter, and this is just one more 'X' in the Carpenter column. The People Under The Stairs is a classic, and hilarious no matter what age you are. This isn't even fun to watch for nostalgic purposes.

Nada (Roddy Piper) is a drifter who has found his way into Los Angeles working on a construction site. Since he has no place to stay, Frank (Keith David), a fellow worker, helps him out and takes him to a local shanty for the night. Along the way, Nada sees a street preacher, ranting about the corruption of the human spirit. "They" have taken the hearts of the leaders, and control the rich and powerful. I guess for the purposes of this movie, the traditional street preacher isn't completely crazy. So Frank shows him around the shanty, introduces him to a few people, and sets him up with some supper and a hot shower. Night falls, and a couple of the bums are sitting around watching infomercials. The signal keeps breaking up however, and a man keeps appearing on the TV, spouting nonsense about scientific experiments and plans for world domination. Nada noticed the street preacher off in the distance, and he appears to be talking to himself. After closer inspection, he notices that the preacher is actually mouthing the words the man on the TV is saying, and decides to go see just what the hell is going on.

He follows the man into the church, where he discovers science equipment and a wall of boxes stacked floor to ceiling. Written on the wall beside these boxes are the words "They Live, We Sleep". Nada quickly leaves the church, but decides to keep an eye on it, just to be safe. The next night, police raid the church and tear through the shanty town with bulldozers, destroying everything. Nada manages to get away, and hides out in a nearby house, watching the destruction through a window. The next morning he goes into the church, and finds a bunch of those boxes hidden behind a panel in the wall. Inside he finds sunglasses. Just ordinary looking sunglasses, which he hides in a trash can, save for a pair he keeps. He soon realizes that while wearing them, he is able to see the subliminal messages hidden in advertisements, as well as who of the rich and powerful are actually aliens.

In a nutshell, the rest of the movie is Roddy Piper fighting people, fighting aliens, and quipping lines that make Duke Nukem look like Shakespeare. He has to save the world by destroying the alien signal. If that isn't a boring, cliched premise, I don't know what is. Well I can honestly say that I found this movie terrible. How a man goes from the Thing and Halloween to do something like this is beyond me. It wasn't even cheesy good, like Escape from NY, or Big Trouble In Little China. Those at least spoofed themselves, and were hilarious. This is just another movie in a long lineup of Carpenter films I despise. Which is a shame, because I used to get a kick out of it when I was younger. I think that just goes to the fact that I was a huge wrestling fan, and Roddy Piper used to be the cat's pajamas.

bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 09/17/2007, 01:08 AM
3/10? What the hell? "They Live" is classic John Carpenter and it blends a nice sense of humor with...well...a professional wrestler. This film is campy and fun and it still entertains the hell out of me. 3/10? More like a 7/10.
Chad #2: Chad - added 09/17/2007, 01:15 AM
I was sort of thinking the same thing, but I haven't seen this since I was six or seven years old, so I think a rental is in order before I can fairly comment on it.
Tristan #3: Tristan - added 09/17/2007, 01:23 AM
I thought it stunk. I didn't like the Simpsons movie one bit, and you loved it, so agree to disagree.
Crispy #4: Crispy - added 09/17/2007, 01:27 AM
Haha, at this point I'm used to being on the other side of the fence than Billy. Although between Them! and the Puppet Masters we've been seeing eye to eye lately. It's almost creepy.
Edd #5: Edd - added 09/17/2007, 08:22 AM
I saw it recently on AMC (I'm sure it was edited somewhat) but it still felt like the same good ol' fashion alien conspiracy movie. 8/10
Ginose #6: Ginose - added 08/20/2008, 05:57 PM
Absoltely one of the most interesting action films Carpenter has made. I really only had a problem with the pacing, it's like he ran out of material somewhere in the middle of the movie so he had to stretch a bunch of material out. Aside from have one of the best fight scenes ever, it also brought, wha I thought to be, the only alien design was actually something new in the sub-humanoid creature design. I didn't feel bored for more than four or five minutes at a time, and I really didn't have much to gripe at where the action was concerned.
All together, a fun movie when you're bored. Not a Carpenter gem, but fun enough. 7.3/10
Zombieboy #7: Zombieboy - added 12/30/2008, 11:47 AM
My wife is always using the bubblegum line!
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