They influence our decisions without us knowing it. They numb our senses without us feeling it. They control our lives without us realizing it. Horror master John Carpenter directs this action-packed sci-fi thriller about ... more »one man's battle against aliens who are systematically gaining control of the Earth.« less
"Produced by Larry Franco and directed by John Carpenter in 1988, THEY LIVE never appears on the list of the best movies of the american master. I don't understand why. The carpenterian theme by excellence, the rebellion against the establishment, is the central theme of THEY LIVE, and, as far as it concerns action, the movie features one of the most impressing bare hand fights ever presented on screen. Furthermore THEY LIVE presents a good sci-fi cliché à la Philip K. Dick - they're among us and I'm the only one who sees them -, a theme treated with intelligence by John Carpenter who does have a lot of fun to criticize our contemporary society. One will recognize some of the ideas of the movie in another Carpenter opus directed 10 years later : ESCAPE FROM L.A.If you're a Carpenter fan, this DVD will soon be in your library but be aware that there isn't even a menu and that you're just allowed to surf into a scene access department. Shame on Image for their lack of respect. Great images and sound though.A DVD zone rebellion."
You look like your face fell in the cheese dip back in 1956.
A. Gyurisin | Wet, Wild, Wonderful Virginia | 09/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wondering what you world would be like if it were run by aliens that were trying to control your minds through subliminal messaging? Well, look no further than John Carpenter's cult classic They Live. Wresting superstar Roddy Piper stars as Nada, a drifter that stumbles upon a pair of sunglasses that show him the truth about his society and the world he inhabits. He discovers that humans are not the only beings to be living on the planet Earth. Nada also knows what he must do to save the human race from complete invasion of these creatures. Does he have enough time and manpower to stop these culprits of communication or will Nada only help them enslave the human race? It will all teeter on the amount of "bubblegum" that he carries with him!
Visionary director John Carpenter creates this world that is not unlike today's society. Glued to the television and void of independent thought, he shows us a human race that resembles cattle in the fields waiting for the farmer's next decision. Created well before The Matrix, Carpenter uses aliens to demonstrate the power of the media and the superpowers behind the scenes. In a world where we gather our truth from others and in the comfort of our own home, this film carries themes that are still relevant today. Carpenter shows us that we can live in a world, even a city, and not realize what is happening around us. How hidden are those subliminal messages in our culture? He also prods at the notion that only the wealthy can create the supposed truth, and that eventually the lines between wealthy and homeless with be much defined. There will be an elimination of the middle-class and humans would be at the bottom of the social order.
This was a beautiful film that carries with it a heavy burden of showing us the truth of our world. While we may giggle and laugh at this "created" society, there are some truths to what Carpenter is showing. He gives us warnings and answers if we choose to listen. I was not expecting such a high caliber of emotion to go into a film like this, and was utterly surprised by the experience. Perhaps it is the packaging, perhaps it is because our culture has not adapted well to the horror/sci-fi genre yet, but everyone should experience this film once. I recommend it for anyone that enjoyed The Matrix and want to see more about the structure of our society.
Grade: **** out of ****"
They Live is mindless entertainment that isn't so mindless
Dave. K | Staten Island, Ny | 02/07/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"They Live was the last movie of the 80s made by John Carpenter; in many ways this was the end of an era. From 1976-1988 Carpenter had quite an impressive run of what are seen now as classics. The 76-88 era is very much Carpenter's golden era and he actually wrote or co-wrote most of these movies, which makes it even more impressive.
What I love about They Live is the movie is mindless entertainment that isn't so mindless at all. There is a heavy does of social commentary and it's not subtle at all. John Carpenter doesn't hide his feelings at all. He had something he wanted to say and he doesn't hold back. Every movie becomes dated, but some hold up well. They Live is probably one of those movies that will almost always remain current. Even to this day the message delivered in They Live holds up to what's going on in the world.
The screenplay was written by John Carpenter under the name Frank Armitage and overall the script was quite well done. What I love about Carpenter as a writer is his scripts have a simple idea and they work so well. Also I really love the characters in Carpenter's movies regardless if he wrote the script or not he really knows how to bring characters to life. They Live has a good script, though maybe weaker than some of his past ones, but overall it's quite well done. About the only real complaint I have is the first 30-minutes almost seem like fillers.
While there is character development you can actually lose the first 30-minutes and not lose any of the plot or any of the character development and the movie would still work and not feel like anything is missing. That's not to say the first 30-minutes were bad or boring. They do work, but I just feel like some of the scenes were sort of filler scenes.
As director John Carpenter creates a really fun movie. His scenes are well paced and like I said before he really knows how to bring characters to life. The action scenes are great and highly entertaining and the comedy in the movie also works quite well. When it comes to Carpenter's career he's always talked about how much he did for horror, which he did. But sometimes I feel people forget what a great action director he is.
As a kid I was a big wrestling fan and Roddy Piper was one of my very favorites. With really only a couple of exceptions most wrestlers that went into acting really didn't fair well. While some may have had a hit or two they weren't very good actors, while Piper may not be an Oscar worthy actor he does deliver a great performance here. He really knows how to entertain and the much underrated Keith David is great here as well. These two guys really work great together and help elevate this movie.
As I stated the first 30-minutes or so can be a little slow and you sort of get to that point and wonder ok where is this movie going? Once Piper puts on the sunglasses its non-stop excitement until the end of the movie; the biggest highlight of the movie is probably the fight scene between Roddy Piper's character and Keith David's character. The scene runs at about 5-minutes and some people complain it was too long. Ok, yeah I suppose it was on the long side, but I don't think I have ever been more entertained by a fight scene like I was in They Live.
They Live also features some of the best one liners; they are the type you can keep quoting over and over again. This really was an excellent movie, while again the first 30-minutes do sort of feel like filler scenes at times it's never boring and once it gets going the movie is just non-stop fun. I suppose this could sort of be seen as the last great Carpenter movie, but I do enjoy his 90s work; they may not be as solid as his 70s/80s work, but not as bad some people make it out to be, but They Live was probably his last great movie.
They Live is mindless entertainment that isn't so mindless; despite the heavy dose of social commentary They Live is a blast!"
Edgar Rice | USA | 03/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, I don't know about all the social, political, or artistic ideas here, and I was never a Rowdy Roddy Piper devotee. I just view this as a campy B movie that's not just so bad that it's good, it's so bad that it's absolutely excellent. Reminds of something you'd see in the pre-cable days on Chiller Theatre about 3 in the morning. Wonderfully over-the-top and highly recommended."
A GREAT MOVIE
Anthony J. Breen | Missouri | 12/15/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie works on a number of levels, it is an excellant satire of greed and the me me culture of the 80's, and on another level it is a great sci-fi movie including all the much used and much loved sci-fi standards of alien invaision and control and thanks to Roddy Piper who surprises all with the quality of his acting the fight scenes have an extra bite which helps alot.This movie will appeal to anyone with a interest in politics as it is a classic example of the true nature of capitalism and the way in which its true goal is to set people against each other and to control the masses with consumerism.Anyone who likes action movies, sci-fi and sharp satire will think this movie is a blast, miss it if you dare."