Movie Review: They Live (1988)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1988 science fiction movie starring Roddy Piper and Keith David.

Synopsis: An out-of-work drifter arrives in Los Angeles and seeks refuge in a local shantytown. However, when an army of police raid the church across the street and, in doing so, also relocate the homeless people's camp, he decides to investigate and discovers a pair of sunglasses that reveal the truth, the world is being ruled by aliens that control the human population by using subliminal messages.

Who's In It?


This is a movie I've seen several times in the past. Yet, when I recently had the opportunity to watch this film again, I ended up doing just that.

I don't watch a lot of alien invasion movies. But, of the ones I have watched, this one is definitely one of my favorites.

This is because, unlike traditional alien invasion films, this movie doesn't focus on the actual invasion. Instead, it is a movie about a world that has already been invaded and conquered, the human population just doesn't realize it yet.

And, that difference does make the movie much more entertaining to watch simply because, when John Nada (Piper) discovers the truth, he really has very few people he can turn to for help. The overall concept creates a pretty significant feeling of hopelessness and, because of that, it would be hard to blame him if he just decided to take the glasses off and go about his normal life as though nothing had happened instead of trying to fight the aliens.

Another thing I really like about this movie is, even though it is now almost 30 years old, it's not as dated as some other films from the 1980s. With some minor changes, this story would still work if it were taking place today. In fact, it might even be a bit more believable.

Piper, for his part, does an excellent job in this movie. His pro wrestling background comes in handy during the many action/fight scenes. But, unlike some other pro wrestlers that became movie stars, he also does a decent job with the actual acting part. In other words, he would be entertaining to watch in this movie even if he wasn't, on occasion, asked to body slam someone. And, I have to admit, watching this movie did make me miss the now-deceased actor/wrestler.

Final Opinion

This is a fantastic film that, even after 27 years, is still entertaining to watch. If you have not seen this movie, I do recommend taking the time to watch it at least once.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 11/16/2015, StevenHelmer
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