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"I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass . . . and I'm all out of bubble gum."
Put the glasses ON . . .
Put the glasses ON . . .
Plot Summary for They Live (1988)

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.

Editorial Reviews Amazon.com

An economic crisis brings unemployed Nada (Roddy Piper) to L.A. in search of work. What he finds instead is that the ruling elite of the world are aliens in disguise, their aim being to keep humans in a state of mindless consumerism. His discovery comes when he dons a pair of special sunglasses made by a resistance group and sees for the first time reality unadorned. Billboards, store signs, magazine covers--all bear subliminal messages to OBEY, to CONSUME, to have NO INDEPENDENT THOUGHT. Money itself says THIS IS YOUR GOD. But worst of all, with these glasses you see which of us are really hideous, bug-eyed aliens. The conceptual breakthrough is hilarious while keeping its roots in darker matters. Although some fault the film for settling into its action plot, the ending has a great payoff. And the direction by John Carpenter is handled with superb workmanlike aplomb. One unforgettable set piece has Piper in a back-alley fistfight with a friend who won't put on the glasses that goes on and on, and just when you think it's over it goes another round. One of the most subversive films ever made in Hollywood, They Live was released on the eve of the 1988 elections. The first TV ads had two hideous alien politicians debating, then one accusing the other of being "No John Kennedy!"



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Inside the fim 21.Dec.2003 13:57


Inside the film there is a tribute to a film from the early fifties called Monoliths (a.k.a. Monolith Monsters). In the scene, in They Live, when the houseless folks are in the park, or lot, and are watching TV, and having headaches, the film being broadcast to theire TV is Monoliths.

Very briefly the story line of Monoliths, a meteor hits the earth outside of a large city. A western city, as water reaches the alien stone it grows forming giant monoliths which crumble under their on weight and fall on very small farms and houses crushing them. Covers everything from land use to water rights all in eighty-eight minutes, very, very hard to find.

if you liked ... 21.Dec.2003 17:15

yer frendli naberhood moovy kritik

Other films with similar themes:

  • "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension," 1984 -- earlier hideous-alien-capitalists-visible-only-to-the-resistance movie
  • "Escape from L.A.," 1996 -- the only openly-primitivist action film I know about
  • "Fight Club," 1999 -- contrary to its publicity, this movie is not about boxing
  • and of course, "The Matrix," 1999 -- skip the sequels

good movie, but didn't go very far. 21.Dec.2003 19:28


I like they live when it came out. Its a pretty good movie. sort of an x-file lifestyle..

monolith monsters scared the shit out of my when I was 7, but its a bit dated now..

cool flick 22.Dec.2003 00:01


Rent this one at laughing horse books. It's in their NON-documentary section

Sounds like a good flick 22.Dec.2003 01:13


This movie isn't an original idea - I've seen the exact same story in comic books in the 70s and 80s. But it sounds like a must see. I like when popular entertainment FORCES consumers into thought. Oliver Stone's movie JFK made a lot of people into activists, or so I've heard.

Then again, is this another way to marginalise the idea of a controlling elite? As in "Nah, the government wouldn't do that to us! You're sounding like that dumb sci-fi movie!"

I liked the X-Files but, in placing conspiracies within the context of space aliens and evil magic powers, it diverts attention from the what humans are naturally capable of, as if to say "only a non-human could do something that evil." which is not at all the case.

Here's another pertinent (Japanese) movie is amazing. It's called BATTLE ROYALE, and I'll let this film review sum it up: