They Live Review

Directed by John Carpenter

They Live tells the story of a drifter who discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over Earth.

What surprised me about They Live was the combination of a nameless man with some of the best one-liners and a meaningful interpretation of “being asleep” when being overrun by mass media and advertising. It totally worked for me!

The nameless man referred to as “Nada” finds work on a construction site in Los Angeles. He is taken to a nearby shantytown by another construction worker named Frank.

Nada discovers that the nearby soup kitchen located in a church is merely a front, discovering numerous boxes stored in the walls and a recording of a church choir.

The inhabitants of the church flee during a police raid, the destruction overflowing into the shantytown. Nada retrieves one of the hidden boxes, finding it full of sunglasses.

When Nada puts on a pair of sunglasses, he awakes to the truth that everyone is walking around in a state of waking sleep. Billboards, magazines, and even money hold subliminal messages keeping the human beings asleep and compliant to the aliens’ whims.

The aliens mixed in with the human beings is quite “Big Brother,” especially with the alien police officers and other alien authority figures. But the aliens aren’t the only ones that Nada has to look out for, some human beings have aligned themselves with the aliens.

They Live focuses on the concept of a declining economy within a culture engulfed by greed and consumption, controlled by advertisements and products that can make their lives better. This film really delves into the power that products and greed have over us, which empowers the upper class and hinders the middle class.

Pairing these deep thought-provoking ideas with a nameless man known as Nada, They Live could have been horrendous. But it worked!

Nada is not a stoic hero, he is loud and obnoxious; he outs himself without a thought to the consequences in a store filled with aliens.

Those jeans, that flannel shirt, that mullet – Nada is the man!

Even though he is not the brightest bulb, you root for the guy.

Not only does Nada walk in a bank like a one-man army, he delivers the best fight scene with his fellow construction worker Frank.

And Nada delivers some of the best zingers:

“Brother, life’s a bitch… and she’s back in heat.”

“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum.”

“Mama don’t like tattletales.”

“… formaldehyde-face!”

They Live is definitely a new favorite of mine. And I am ending this review with the best fight scene reenacted during an episode of South Park (it is dubbed with the audio from They Live). Enjoy!


~ by nicmarray on March 6, 2010.

3 Responses to “They Live Review”

  1. Wow, I have never seen this one, but I remember always walking by the box cover when I was little in the video store and thinking it was really creepy. Now I really want to see it.

  2. This weekend was the first time that I actually saw it myself. It combined dark humor and sci-fi horror, which can go either way on the good versus bad scale for me. Plus the mullet was rocking! Business in the front and party in the back. =)

  3. I used to watch this over and over as a kid. It certainly has its quirky charm and I just watched it again not too long ago and enjoyed it. Roddy Piper basically just has one liners in the flick which was hilarious.

    Still to this day I think the aliens look amazing and the black and white shots of the city revealed by the glasses gave me a great retro sci-fi feel.

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