They Live (1988)

A homeless drifter—credited as “Nada”— goes to Los Angeles in search of a job. While out on the street, he sees a street preacher warning that “They” have recruited the rich and powerful to control humanity. Nada finds employment at a construction site and is befriended by co-worker Frank, who invites him to live in a shanty town soup kitchen led by a man named Gilbert.

That night, a hacker takes over television broadcasts, claiming that scientists have discovered signals that are enslaving the population and keeping them in a dream-like state, and that the only way to stop it is to shut off the signal at its source. Those watching the broadcast complain of headaches. Nada secretly follows Gilbert and the preacher into a nearby church and discovers them meeting with a group that includes the hacker. He sees scientific equipment and cardboard boxes inside. Nada is discovered by the blind preacher and escapes.

The shantytown and church are both destroyed in a police raid in the same night, and the hacker and preacher are beaten by riot police. The following day, Nada retrieves one of the boxes from the church and takes a pair of sunglasses from it, hiding the rest in a trash can. Nada discovers that the sunglasses make the world appear monochrome, but also reveal subliminal messages in the media to consume, reproduce, and conform. The glasses also reveal that many people are actually aliens with skull-like faces.

When Nada mocks an alien woman at a supermarket, she alerts other aliens via a wristwatch-like device. Nada leaves but is confronted by two alien police officers. He kills them and steals their weapons. Nada enters a bank, where he sees that several of the employees and customers are aliens. He kills several aliens with a shotgun and escapes by taking Cable 54 employee Holly Thompson hostage. At Holly’s home, Nada tries to get her to try on the glasses, but she knocks him out of the window and down a hill and calls the police.

The next day, Nada returns to the alleyway and retrieves the sunglasses from a garbage truck before Frank meets Nada to give him his paycheck. Nada tries to get Frank to put on the glasses, but Frank thinks Nada is a murderer and wants nothing to do with him. Frank and Nada get into a long and violent brawl, after which Frank is too tired to prevent Nada from putting the sunglasses on him. After seeing the aliens and a flying saucer, Frank goes into hiding with Nada.

Frank and Nada run into Gilbert, who leads them to a meeting of the anti-alien movement. At the meeting, they are given contact lenses to replace the sunglasses, and learn that the aliens are using global warming to make Earth more like their own planet, and are depleting the Earth’s resources for their own gain. They also learn that the aliens have been bribing humans to become collaborators, promoting them to positions of power. Holly arrives at the meeting, apologizing to Nada. The meeting is raided by police and the vast majority of those present are killed, with the survivors (including Frank, Nada, and Holly) scattering. Nada and Frank are cornered in an alley, but they accidentally activate an alien wristwatch, opening a portal through which they escape.

The portal takes them to the aliens’ spaceport, where they discover a meeting of aliens and human collaborators celebrating the elimination of the “terrorists”. They are approached by a former drifter they briefly met in the shantytown, now a collaborator, who gives them a tour of the facility. He leads them to the basement of Cable 54, the source of the signal, which is protected by armed guards. Nada and Frank find Holly and fight their way to the transmitter on top of the roof, but Holly kills Frank, revealing that Holly too is a human collaborator. Nada kills Holly and destroys the transmitter, and is fatally wounded by aliens in a helicopter. Nada gives the aliens the middle finger as he dies.

With the transmitter destroyed, humans all over the world are free from their dream-like state and discover the aliens hiding amongst them.

The Untold Truth Of They Live

how can you not love a film that features a six-minute fight scene between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David? We are here to chew bubblegum and talk about the untold truth of They Live, and we’re all out of bubblegum.

Roddy Piper and John Carpenter talk about They Live

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *