STARRING: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster, George
"Buck" Flower, Peter Jason, Raymond St. Jacques, Jason Robards III, Larry Franco
1988, 97 Minutes, Directed
by John Carpenter
An economic crisis brings unemployed Nada (Roddy Piper) to L.A. in
search of work. What he finds instead is that the ruling elite of the world
are aliens in disguise, their aim being to keep humans in a state of
mindless consumerism. His discovery comes when he dons a pair of special
sunglasses made by a resistance group and sees for the first time reality
unadorned. Billboards, store signs, magazine covers--all bear subliminal
messages to OBEY, to CONSUME, to have NO INDEPENDENT THOUGHT. Money itself
says THIS IS YOUR GOD. But worst of all, with these glasses you see which of
us are really hideous, bug-eyed aliens.
Probably one of the most
subversive films to have come out of Hollywood in decades, They Live is a welcome
return to form by legendary cult film director John (Escape from
LA, The Thing) Carpenter after having having directed such
abysmal efforts such as Memoirs of an Invisible Man.
A lonely drifter gets hold
of a pair of glasses through which the terrible truth can be seen: the rich
are aliens who have already taken over the earth! Billboard advertisements and television broadcasts
actually contain subliminal messages such as "Consume," "Watch
Television" and "Marry and Reproduce!" All this give new meaning to William
Gibson's dictum that the rich no longer resemble anything human!
It's difficult to dislike a
film with an attitude like this one. Even when the film forsakes its satiric
points and degenerates into a straight-forward action thriller, one cannot
help but like this film. Take that yuppie scum!
Sci-Fi Movie Page Pick:
Difficult to dislike despite its flaws. This alien invasion story that gets its shots in at
Reaganite 1980s materialism is a
welcome return to form for cult director John Carpenter.
Top 100 Sci-Fi
of all time