A homeless drifter discovers a reason for the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor: a conspiracy by non-human aliens who have infiltrated American society in the guise of wealthy yuppies. With the help of special sunglasses that reveal the aliens' true faces and their subliminal messages ("marry and reproduce," "submit to authority"), our hero tries to stop the invasion. This satire of Reaganomics and the "greed is good" era also has one of the funniest (and longest) fight scenes in American cinema.
[They Live] was giving the finger to Reagan when nobody else would... By the end of the 70s there was a backlash against everything in the 60s, and thats what the 80s were, and Ronald Reagan became president, and Reaganomics came in so a lot of the ideals that I grew up with were under assault, and something called a yuppie came into existence, and they just wanted money. And so by the late 80s, Id had enough, and I decided I had to make a statement, as stupid and banal as it is, but I made one, and thats They Live. -John Carpenter
THEY LIVE is about yuppies and unrestrained capitalism. It has nothing to do with Jewish control of the world, which is slander and a lie. - John Carpenter
"Plenty of films since Carpenter's have come down hard on Reaganomics; it's almost too limiting of They Live's stealth power to call it a political screed. Far more adventurously, this is a thriller a mass-consumable entertainment that tries to reprogram its audience into anti-consumers. Everything we watch in a theater asks us, to some degree, to see the world as it does. But They Live literalizes that idea, forcing the shades on us to display a wholly different perspective." - Rolling Stone
"They Live is still one of the finest caustic attacks on the oppressive nature of greed and conformity of American capitalism. It may be often too silly and campy to be outright venomous, preferring a more flippant and sarcastic tone, while its scant runtime means an imbalance of great action set pieces and not a longer stick-it-to-the-man final act. Yet, this is Carpenter's most purified example of politicalizing." Nick Schwab, MUBI.com
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