They Live

“They Live” is an American sci-fi action film that was released in 1988.

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The film was directed by the legendary John Carpenter. Initially, it did not do well at the box office but went on to become a cult classic. It had a very low budget of $3 million and earned $13 million at the box office.

Theatrical Poster

The Movie

Nada (Roddy Piper) is a homeless drifter that arrives in Los Angeles looking for a job.

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He encounters a priest publically preaching about aliens that have taken over the world.

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After the priest’s church is raided he discovers a box of sunglasses. Once put on, a monochrome world is revealed. One where you see messages of compliance and the actual aliens that are disguised as humans.

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The production is based on the 1963 short story by Ray Nelson, called “Eight O’Clock in the Morning”. It was shot over an eight-week period, mostly in downtown Los Angeles.

The Cast

  • Roddy Piper as Nada
  • Keith David as Frank Armitage
  • Meg Foster as Holly Thompson
  • Raymond St. Jacques as Street Preacher
  • George Buck Flower as Drifter / Collaborator
  • Peter Jason as Gilbert
  • Sy Richardson as Black Revolutionary
  • Susan Blanchard as Ingenue
  • Norman Alden as Construction Foreman
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Soundtrack

The soundtrack was composed by Alan Howarth and Carpenter himself.

Conclusion

Jonathan Rosenbaum from the Chicago Reader wrote:

“Carpenter’s wit and storytelling craft make this fun and watchable, although the script takes a number of unfortunate shortcuts, and the possibilities inherent in the movie’s central concept are explored only cursorily.”

The film wasn’t a huge success, but no failure either. Today fans regard the film as “heavily underrated”. One highlight of the movie is an almost 6-minute alley brawl between Nada and Frank (David) over a pair of sunglasses.

Movie Trailer

Reference

They Live – Wikipedia