YMMV / They Live

  • Adaptation Displacement: The plot originally comes from a Science Fiction short story involving a man who can see the messages after being hypnotized. The aliens in there also eat humans.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Because the aliens are just stand-ins for the wealthy class in Reagan's America, it can be easy to wonder just how truly evil they are. They might be exploiting humanity, but they're hardly genocidal conquerors.
    • Until they murder innocent people forced to live in shanty towns.
  • Anvilicious: In spades.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Misaimed Fandom: Naturally, given that it's a film about shadowy elites ruling the world from behind the scenes, Conspiracy Theorists have taken a significant liking to it. Carpenter insists that it's a satire of '80s yuppie capitalism run amok, and has told neo-Nazi fans of the film (who read a specifically anti-Semitic meaning into it) to go piss right the hell off.
    • Unfortunately, even when viewed through a liberal lens, the movie seems to be sending mixed messages, since while most of the aliens are either corporate elites, politicians, or military and law enforcement, they are, by definition, outsiders, which plays into the kind of conspiracy theories that cause the Misaimed Fandom in the first place.
    • A lot of conservatives read this movie as anti-socialist, mostly as an offshoot of "elites = liberals, liberals = socialists" line of thinking. Nevermind the fact that the whole thing is a criticism of an overly capitalist society (and, by Word of God, satire of the Reagan administration's consumerist society), and that the heroes are branded as Dirty Commies.
  • Older Than They Think: The plot revolves around creatures that have infiltrated the human race by making themselves look indistinguishable from us and posing as benevolent members of our society. With the help of at least one other human ally, our hero finds out about these grotesque foes, thereby learning how to identify them and how to protect himself and other humans. Eventually, he stumbles upon a secret meeting of the monsters (along with a human who was previously unaware of their existence). After one of the monsters at the meeting gives a speech detailing their plans, the hero discovers an enemy weapon that he hijacks to deal a debilitating blow to the inhuman enemies. Although he and the other human who witness the meeting have their lifespans severely shortened from the encounter, the hero considers it a worthy sacrifice since he enabled humanity to defeat the infiltrators...Yeah, sorry John Carpenter, but it looks like a certain other master of scares beat you to it.
  • Paranoia Fuel: The whole point, in a way. That commercial you just saw on television ... just a commercial or a subliminal message telling you to "OBEY" and "CONFORM"?
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: By many people's assertion, there were a lot of things wrong with 1980s American consumerism.
  • Too Cool to Live: Nada and Frank.
  • Values Resonance: The only things outdated in this film are the hairstyles.
  • What an Idiot: So you find a pair of glasses that show you the truth: that aliens have basically taken over the world and are controlling our minds as we speak. There is absolutely no way you can fight them gun to gun, since they control everything. You need to go about this the smart way, because it's the only way. So what do you do? You start yelling at everyone you see about aliens.
    • COULD be justified by the notion that the glasses are said to mess with your psyche a bit and that Nada was having a serious case of Go Mad from the Revelation. Plus, homeless people are more likely to have mental illnesses of some kind.