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: How truly evil are the aliens supposed to be? Despite the fact they are obviously manipulating humanity, they don't do anything overtly malevolent throughout the film, with most of those actions actually being done by humans themselves. Why do they bother telling humans about the conspiracy? It's clear they don't need to reveal themselves, or else why bother with the hypnotic signal in the first place? Also much of what we are told about them is contradictory at best, such as the scientist's idea that they're xenoforming Earth's atmosphere to match their homeworld, which raises the question of why, given that they easily can survive in Earth's own atmosphere anyway?
    • The aliens are exactly as evil as the rich of the United States in the 1980s—which, in John Carpenter's view, was pretty damn evil.
    • Considering the MARRY and REPRODUCE apparently included with the aliens one might well consider it to be a species-wide subliminal date-rape. Fantastic timing, MDMA/Ecstacy had just been placed on the Schedule 1 narcotic list three years before this movie came out...
    • Another Alternate Character Interpretation: The story depicts paranoid schizophrenia, Through the Eyes of Madness as an Unreliable Narrator. Nada's behavior entirely parallels that of someone undergoing a violent psychotic episode. In this interpretation, all of the events of the film are in Nada's mind, and Holly (along with the others who tried to get in the way) is/are The Hero trying to stop an Insane Equals Violent Serial Killer/spree killer.
  • Anvilicious: In spades.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The fight over Frank not wanting to wear Nada's sunglasses.
  • Memetic Mutation: "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum."
    • The subliminal OBEY/CONSUME/etc signs have been remixed all over the place, notably into Shepard Fairey's OBEY GIANT campaign.
    • This edit is pretty popular among anti-bronies.
  • 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  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped/Values Resonance: The only things outdated in this film are the hairstyles.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 its the only way. So what do you do? You start yelling at everyone you see about aliens.