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.
They Live is a 1988 American satirical science fiction horror film written and directed by John Carpenter. The film stars Roddy Piper, Keith David, and Meg Foster. It follows an unnamed drifter (referred to as “John Nada” in the film’s credits) who discovers the ruling class are in fact aliens concealing their appearance and manipulating people to spend money, breed, and accept the status quo with subliminal messages in mass media. They Live is based on the 1963 short story, “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” by Ray Nelson.
At release it was number one in the box office, but sales soon suffered, though the film was nominated for two Saturn Awards. They Live has since become a cult film. The film has had a lasting impact on street art, particularly that of Shepard Fairey; its quotations have entered the popular culture, and it makes appearances on all-time lists for best fight scenes.
They Live (1988)
Directed by: John Carpenter
Starring: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster, Peter Jason, George ‘Buck’ Flower, John Lawrence, Susan Barnes, Wendy Brainard, Lucille Meredith, Susan Blanchard
Screenplay by: John Carpenter
Cinematography by: Gary B. Kibbe
Film Editing by: Gib Jaffe, Frank E. Jimenez
Makeup Department: Elle Elliott
Set Decoration by: Marvin March
Art Direction by: William J. Durrell Jr., Daniel A. Lomino
Music by: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: November 4, 1988