A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over the Earth.
In the 80's wrestlers weren't the film stars they're seen as today, they were seen as bad actors who did even worse movies (I'm talking about you Hogan!) so when Rowdy Roddy Piper was cast In John Carpenters film, a-lot of eyebrows were raised, no-one could foresee the success the film had.
The 80's was not only a great decade for the Horror genre, it was also a great decade for Carpenter. After having success with "The Fog", "The Thing" and "Christine" to name just a few. "They Live" was a great film to carry on his fabulous streak and it has that Carpenter stamp all over it, which is never a bad thing.
The film is famous for a few things, one of them being having one of the greatest fight scenes in film. believe it or not the fight was only supposed to last 20 seconds, but Roddy Piper and Keith David decided to fight it out for real, only faking the hits to the face and groin. They rehearsed the fight for nearly a month and Carpenter was so impressed he kept the full 5 minute plus scene intact.
Another thing the film is well known for is having one of the campest yet greatest lines ever spoke and only Piper could be the one to pull it off. The line was actually ad-libbed, according to Carpenter, Piper had taken the line from a list of ideas he had for his wrestling interviews. If you've seen his work that I mentioned earlier along with the likes of "Escape from New York" and "Big Trouble in Little China" then you know what you're in for here.
Keith David has always been a great actor and it was no surprise to see him here after his magnificent performance in "The Thing". Roddy Piper also puts in a good performance, I'd just wish he wasn't doing an American accent because his Scottish accent is so strong and you hear it break through in his lines, The rest of the cast also do a great job to make the film highly enjoyable to watch.
Yes it's a goofy film but "They Live" is jam packed with entertainment value, you just can't go wrong with this film. Filled with action, sci-fi and horror, Carpenter creates a great blend. I've never talked to anyone who disliked this, everyone seems to enjoy some aspect of it, even if it's just THAT line. So do yourself a favour and get watching it, I highly doubt you'll be disappointed.
If you want to see the "They Live" trailer then just click on the video below:
The communicators that the guards use are the P.K.E. meters from Ghostbusters.
There is a thinly veiled jab at Siskel & Ebert, with both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert as aliens. "Siskel" is denouncing George A. Romero and John Carpenter as too violent. (In fact, Siskel had written a scathing review of Romero's Night of the Living Dead.)
The only character given a first and last name is Holly Thompson (Meg Foster).
John Carpenter wanted a truly rugged individual to play Nada. He cast wrestler Roddy Piper in the lead role after seeing him in WrestleMania III. Carpenter remembered Keith David's performance in The Thing and wrote the role of Frank specifically for the actor.
Roddy Piper's character never gives his name nor is he referred to by name throughout the entire movie. He is simply referred to as "Nada" in the credits, which means "nothing" in Spanish. The name is most likely a reference to George Nada, the main character of Ray Nelson's short story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning," which was the basis for 'They Live'.
Graffiti artist Shepard Fairey got his "obey" name from this film.
SQ1's video for "Can You Feel" references the scene of revelation in "They Live".
The Cripple fight in episode 67 of South Park that aired on June 27, 2001. was taken blow by blow from the fight between Frank and Nada in the alley. If you watch it its a match scene for scene of the alley fight
Roddy Piper, being a married man at the time of filming, refused to take his wedding band off. That's why in several scenes you can see a wedding ring on.
The second and final time that John Carpenter worked with Alive Films. The first was Prince of Darkness.