They Live

November 4th, 1988


more trailers They Live

Still of Roddy Piper in They LiveStill of Keith David and Roddy Piper in They Live

A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over the Earth.

Release Year: 1988

Rating: 7.1/10 (30,486 voted)

Critic's Score: 50/100

Director: John Carpenter

Stars: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster

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.

Writers: Ray Nelson, John Carpenter

Roddy Piper - Nada
Keith David - Frank
Meg Foster - Holly
George 'Buck' Flower - Drifter
Peter Jason - Gilbert
Raymond St. Jacques - Street Preacher
Jason Robards III - Family Man
John Lawrence - Bearded Man
Susan Barnes - Brown Haired Woman
Sy Richardson - Black Revolutionary
Wendy Brainard - Family Man's Daughter
Lucille Meredith - Female Interviewer
Susan Blanchard - Ingenue
Norman Alden - Foreman
Dana Bratton - Black Junkie

Taglines: Who are they? And what do they want?


Official Website: JohnCarpenter - movie site |

Release Date: 4 November 1988

Filming Locations: Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $4,000,000(estimated)

Opening Weekend: $4,827,000 (USA) (6 November 1988) (1463 Screens)

Gross: $13,008,928 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

SQ1's video for "Can You Feel" references the scene of revelation in "They Live".

Factual errors: The shotgun that Roddy Piper's character uses can only hold 5 to 6 rounds (including one in the chamber) due to the length of the magazine tube. Yet it is fired 9 times without a reload.

Frank: The steel mills were laying people off left and right. They finally went under. We gave the steel companies a break when they needed it. You know what they gave themselves? Raises.

User Review

The more things change, the more they stay the same.


They Live. Where to begin? Yes, it is goofy. Yes the production value is very low. Yes the action is standard. The guns never empty. The fights are poorly choreographed at times. But that, my friends, is not the point.

This film was an attack on the Regan era. An attack on the rampant consumerism of the 80's. But open your mind. Saying that it's just an attack on the 80's is merely shutting your eyes. Telling yourself that things have gotten better. Sorry to disapoint you, but they haven't.

Rowdy Roddy Piper puts on some sunglasses. The world changes. Billboards now say Obey or Sleep. Or Marry and Reproduce. Magazines no longer have articles or advertisements. They are blank white pages with said phrases upon them. Money now are white pieces of paper that say This is Your God. Boy oh boy are they right.

So watch They Live. Grab some beer and score some corn. Enjoy the cheese. Enjoy the great one-liners. But also pay attention to the lines that sum up the truth. Remember the point of the film. Then go outside. Re-enter the corporate world outside your door.

You won't need special glasses to see the truth.