3401. They Live (1988)

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7.6 Brilliantly weird
  • Acting 7.7
  • Directing 7.6
  • Story 7.6
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

Starring: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster

Director: John Carpenter

Running Time: 94 mins


They Live is an American film about a man who finds a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see the truth of the world: a cold, consumerist society controlled by horrifying monsters.

They Live is an American film about a man who finds a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see the truth of the world: a cold, consumerist society controlled by horrifying monsters.

This film is weird. That’s the best way to describe it, as They Live lies in an almost untrodden middle ground between hard dystopian sci-fi and dark but still oddly light-hearted comedy.

The closest parallel I can think of is RoboCop, which has a unique blend of dark comedy and thought-provoking sci-fi drama. But again, it’s not quite the same as They Live.

Where RoboCop uses its comedy to further the depth of its dystopian story, They Live almost does the opposite, taking the dark dystopian nature of the society it presents and turning that into the heart of the joke.

In the lead role, Roddy Piper gives a bizarre yet endlessly entertaining performance as a guy who you’d at first expect to be a great hero of the day, but is ultimately just a normal guy, which actually makes him even more endearing.

From his enjoyably out-of-place quips to his earnest desire to bring down the weird beings he discovers through his sunglasses, Piper matches a Schwarzenegger-esque physique with a charmingly innocent persona, further heightening the offbeat nature of this sci-fi.

The central themes are fairly run-of-the-mill for a dystopian sci-fi, but the way in which the movie goes about telling them is what makes it such an oddly entertaining watch, and certainly one of the most likable cult sci-fi movies of the ’80s. So, that’s why I’m giving They Live a 7.6 overall.

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About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com