They Live

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


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.


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


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.


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


The soundtrack was composed by Alan Howarth and Carpenter himself.


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


They Live – Wikipedia