"They are our masters! They're all around you! All about you! Blinding us from the truth!"They Live
is a 1988 action movie directed by John Carpenter
, and inspired by Ray Nelson's short story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning".
John Nada is a drifting construction worker, played by wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
. He arrives in a new town, and finds a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see that not only are aliens living among us, they have hidden subliminal messages
urging humans to conform, consume and reproduce in all media. Nada sets out to make sense of what the sunglasses are showing him, leading to several action scenes, and an incredibly long fist-fight with Nada's construction worker friend, Frank (Keith David
). Eventually, Frank and Nada find an underground movement set on exposing the aliens and freeing humanity, and join in their efforts.
While in the U.S. it's mainly considered another cheesy actioner from The Eighties
, the movie is an intriguing exercise in criticizing the Reaganomics and the deregulatory liberalism of the decade through one of its pet products: the (apparently) brainless action/scifi movie. In Europe, lots of critics have sung praises of this movie, often quoting the "put on the glasses" brawl between Rowdy and Keith as one of the best one-on-one physical duels ever committed to cinema and was parodied shot for shot in an episode of South Park
and replicated (with Keith David As Himself
) in Saints Row IV
. The movie also sports that one particularly awesome line
, which has been borrowed, quoted and subverted many times over, and was the inspiration for an Are You Afraid of the Dark?
episode about a prankster who finds X-ray specs that allow him to see aliens living among humans.
The movie provides examples of: