|John Carpenter Director||previously directed Prince of Darkness|
An average working class man suddenly becomes aware of an alien plot to control Earth when he puts on some black sunglasses.
Kurt Russell was offered the role of Nada. When he turned it down the role went to Roddy Piper.5 More Trivia
The communicators that the guards use are the P.K.E. meters from Ghostbusters.
10 More Quotes
I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum.
|John Carpenter||screenplay (as "Frank Armitage")|
|Ray Nelson||Short Story: Eight O'Clock in the Morning|
|Roderick Toombs||John Nada|
|Keith David||Frank Armitage|
|Meg Foster||Holly Thompson|
|George 'Buck' Flower||Drifter|
|Raymond St. Jacques||Street Preacher|
|Jason Robards III||Family Man|
|John Lawrence||Bearded Man|
|Susan Barnes||Brown Haired Woman|
|Sy Richardson||Black Revolutionary|
|See Full Credits|
They Live is a film directed by John Carpenter that is a throwback to classic science fiction B movies and is based upon the short story 'Eight O'Clock in the Morning'. The film is considered to be a satirical film about the increasing mistrust between the lower and upper class that was increasing during the early eighties. It had a relatively low budget and did not lose money however it was still considered to be a flop upon its release. This has not stopped the film from becoming a cult hit mainly because of its six minute street fight and liberal use of one liners. Today it is viewed by many people as an essential eighties classic.
They Live follows an average working class man Nada, who rolls up into town looking for work after his previous place of employment went out of business. He manages to get work at a construction site where he meets Frank who takes him to a shanty community where he can stay and eventually the two men become friends. Nada begins to notice that the patrons of the church across from the shanty community are acting somewhat suspicious and begins to monitor them, eventually sneaking into the church.
Inside he finds that the church is just a front for a group of radicals who occasionally broadcast warnings on commercial television networks with an illegal antenna, warning people that things are not as they seem. While snooping around Nada finds a whole bunch of boxes behind a secret panel and what looks like sun-glass lens, however he is forced to leave before he is caught. That night the church and shanty town are suddenly raided by the police and bulldozed to the ground.
The next day whilst people are trying to sort through the destruction Nada enters the burnt out church and finds that everything is missing except for the boxes that were behind the secret panel. He grabs one and quickly takes it into a back alley where no one can see, however upon opening it he finds the box is full of ordinary though stylish looking black sunglasses. Confused, Nada takes a pair and stashes the rest in a garbage bin. Whilst walking down the street he puts on the shades and is shocked to find that it makes the world go black and white. Not only that but when he looks up, all the billboards, magazines, posters and adverts in the city have all changed into plain white backgrounds with subliminal messages like 'Obey, Marry Reproduce, and Sleep printed in bold black text. Even money is a subliminal message with 'This is your God' printed across them.
He is shocked even further when he notices that some of the people around him look like horrible skeletal aliens. Nada begins making fun of them outright claiming how ugly they are but when the aliens discover that he can see them for what they really are, they take action to capture him. The police come quickly to arrest him, who are also They Monsters, but Nada manages to overpower them and steal one of their shotguns. He then tries to hide in a bank but finds it full of the aliens and begins blasting them all to hell after delivering one of the most epic lines in film history.
Escaping from the bank Nada finds Frank and tries to convince him to put on the glasses. Frank refuses though as he thinks Nada is an insane murdering lunatic due to him shooting up an entire bank. Nada doesn't take no for an answer though and after an epic six minute fight between the two gargantuan behemoths, the glasses are forced upon Frank and he sees the truth. Together the two stumble upon another underground resistance against the aliens, however one of the meetings is violently raided leaving Frank and Nada the only hope for the human race.
The film's most obvious theme is commercialization, something of which the director John Carpenter was passionate about after being subjected to too many adverts, feeling that everything in the mass media was just designed to sell people things, with even the news being accountable for such crimes. This is seen very clearly in They Live with many of the subliminal messages ordering people to Consume.
The other prevalent ideal is the fear of a declining economy creating a wider gap between social classes, harvesting miss-trust and suspicion amongst society. All of the They Aliens are in positions of wealth and power, essentially compromising the entire upper class, leaving the dirty and hard working jobs to the lower humans so that they can benefit from their hard work. Carpenter made the They Aliens visual design reminiscent of ghouls since they were essentially economic corruption on two legs and a ghoul is a physical corruption of a human.
The film is widely known for the street fight between Frank and Nada that happens a little over halfway in the film, due to it taking almost six minutes of screen time and for the amount of times that it appears to be over before one of the characters begins fighting back again. The fight between the two characters only went for around twenty seconds in the script. The actor who Played Nada was actually a wrestler and so himself and Kieth David choreographed the entire fight themselves. John Carpenter was so impressed that he decided to keep the entire fight in the finished version of the film. The other interesting thing to note is that apart from the knees to the groin and punches to the head the two actors decided that it would be more convincing if they actually connected with their punches, probably largely due to Piper's career as a professional wrestler.
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|review||Ass kicking but a lack of bubblegum (4 out of 5)||Aarny|
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