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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 9 October 2007
I think most of you are missing the point of the film here, its a social commentary, the aliens were an allegory for corporate greed and capitialism at the expense of personal freedoms and human rights. It was made in the 80's, Reagan era, when these things were being pushed aside in favour of power and a money making screw everyone else culture.

Personally, I think it is brilliantly done, Piper is a pretty good actor (for a ex wrestler) and the tongue in cheek script and direction makes sure its doesnt get too caught up in its own message. Although, having said that, the message is pretty loud and clear by the time the two heroes get into the alien base and find out humans are collaborating with them, just for a guaranteed increase in their investments.

Keith David is great also, the pointlessly long and over the top fight scene between the two is one of the best thing about the film, just a bit of fun interjected into a serious film. The scene now has cult status, and was immortalized by Southpark, in the episode `cripple fight' where Jimmy tries to get Timmy to put on a silly hat. Brilliant stuff.

The film could have done with a bigger budget, but I still rate it as a classic, with a message that is perhaps even more relevant today; what with the political propaganda machine even more powerful and insidious than ever, and people even more stupid, it seems.
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on 22 March 2016
Everyone NEEDS to watch this film. As the lead actor once said, "it is not a movie, it is a documentary". If you understand the 'system' and how we are all really just cattle for the elite to do what they like to us, then you will really appreciate this film. If you are unaware of how the world really operates, then watching this will help you open your eyes.
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on 4 August 2008
Hi,
I personally can't wait for this movie to be released again.I'm looking forward to the Blu-Ray in particular.This is my favourite John Carpenter movie and i think in this day and age for me anyway the message in the movie becomes clearer and clearer.It really is a great reflection of western society in particualr and how our brains are manipulated 24/7 365 days a year by commercialism and things that have no real importance in the grand scheme of things.Well back to the movie and what a great performance by Roddy piper and also Keith David.My favourite line in the movie is when piper goes into a bank and declares:"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass.....and i'm all outta bubblegum"!!
I emplore anyone who is reading this and has not seen this movie to give it a go.Well definetely for me a 5-star movie quite frankly there has been nothing that has come close to it in it's 20 years.
Long live John Carpenter,granted he has made some crap in his later years but still i would love him to do a sequel!!
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Director 'John Carpenter'who has brought us chiller's such as 'The Thing' 'Christine'
'Village of the Damned' and more recently 'The Ward' explores manys worse
fears in this movie 'Aliens' beings among us.
Drifter 'John Nada' a construction worker by trade stumbles across a chapel and
notices a false wall behind which stacks of boxes.
The law clears the area which homes the homeless in temporary shelters and
captures those that seemingly to 'John' represent the Church.
When the situation calms in the area 'John' returns to the church, curiosity having
got the better of him, he removes the panel in the false wall he'd noticed earlier
to see what the boxes hold, much to his surprise they are full of sunglasses.
However they are no ordinary shades, when he puts a pair on it reveals the advertising
boards reading stuff like 'Stay asleep' 'Obey' ect....take them off the boards return
to what he's allways thought them to be, suddenly when wearing them some of the
people he looks at are not human, even television channels have these beings as
presenters.
The aliens are controlling humans in a hypnotic manner, what is 'John' to do, very
soon the aliens realise he can see them for what they are, 'John' now becomes
chased and hunted soon finding that normal humans cannot all be trusted.
'John' had made one friend after arriving in town, 'Frank' he seeks him out as a
prospective ally, however initially 'Frank' a family man doesn't want to know which
leads to a bruising fight between them, 'John' needs 'Frank' to try the Glasses on.
The film becomes more intense as the two, again friends try to find help, some
decent action scenes and special effects given it being a pre-c,g.i movie (1989)
Certainly a decent 'John Carpenter' movie that should hold your attention from
start to finish supplying plenty of action and perhaps a touch satire.
The picture and sound quality is pretty good.
Features include -
*Commentary by 'John Carpenter' and 'Roddy Piper'
*Featurette - The Making Of
*John Carpenter - Profile
*Roddy Piper - Profile
*Meg Foster - Profile
*Original Trailer.
'A THOUGHT'
There are many that believe that we are unique despite the size of our
own 'Galaxy' with all it's 'Stars' and 'Planets' not to mention the vastness
of our ever growing Universe.
Like many I believe if not living among us, they could well have visited us
in the past perhaps aiding the ancient civilisations to achieve what we
still cannot explain maybe up to 5000 years ago.
Could it also be possible that the 'Gods' of the ancients were 'Alien'
Visitors ?
I also don't rule out the possibility of more, maybe many more Universes
beyond ours (nobody knows just how big a space is out there ?)
Just a thought.....The Film -worth a spin.
(Sleep Well)
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The two-picture deal he struck in the late 80s that produced the underrated Prince of Darkness [DVD] [1988] and They Live was pretty much the last spurt of creativity from John Carpenter before his mojo went walkabout (presumably it's living it up somewhere with Argento and Romero's similarly long AWOL mojos). Along with The Arrival [DVD], which saw aliens funding their colonisation of Earth by stock market manipulation, it's one of the best invisible invasion films since the 50s, at once rejoicing in its pulp origins and taking smart satirical swipes along the way.

Pro-wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper makes a surprisingly good actor as the down-on-his-luck everyman hero, travelling from city to city with his tools looking for work, the kind of guy who still believes in America, follows the rules and is just waiting for his chance. Unfortunately this is the 80s and he's another victim of the reality of Reaganomics, where, just as today, wealth trickles up, the middle class are downwardly mobile and even having a job isn't enough to keep some of the working class from being homeless. If this sounds like the film's a political tract, Carpenter never made any secret that it was, albeit one with a great satirical sci-fi spin - the reason for this downward spiral is that the rich and powerful don't just regard themselves as different to the rabble, they ARE different, and they ain't from Cleveland: alien invaders who have been here for years, grabbing all the best jobs and most powerful positions, stripping the planet of its assets before moving onto the next. For years they've been brainwashing the human race with signals sent through television sets that hypnotize them into seeing what they want them to see and hide their true form. It's only through wearing special sunglasses that you can see the subliminal messages and commands hidden behind posters and street signs. Not only that, but the real world is actually black and white because "They've colorized us!"

Naturally Piper finds out, no-one believes him and he finds himself on the run with initially sceptical co-worker Keith David, briefly hooking up with the few dregs of human resistance - most humans who find out immediately sell out to the aliens for their own slice of the American dream - before making a do-or-die last stand against the rapacious corporate raiders. All of which is done with surprising wit and energy as the film gradually moves from its state of the nation opening to look behind the curtain, getting a head start on end of millennium angst along the way and probably reaching more people with its message than many a more worthy issue film because it doesn't forget to be fun. There's also great stunt choreography from Jeff Imada in the days when you could still tell what was happening in a fight scene, which is helpful when the film's most celebrated setpiece is a ridiculously but entertainingly prolonged fight scene in an alley where Piper tries to persuade David to just try the sunglasses for himself. For the most part the film does a fine job of hiding its low budget, with only a raid on a shantytown looking a bit underpopulated at times, and the tight hour-and-a-half hour running time works in its favour, keeping things relatively lean. Political commentary has rarely been this much fun.

Shout Factory's Region A-locked Blu-ray offers a satisfying 2.35:1 widescreen transfer with a sharp image with good colour and clear definition. It's not perfect - there's some occasional slight pulsing that makes you wonder if there aren't some subliminal messages encoded on the disc - but after some of the poor previous releases it's like seeing the film through a Hoffman lens and it's certainly the best its looked on any home video format. There's a good selection of extras too, including the enjoyable audio commentary Carpenter and Piper recorded for Optimum's European DVD release, the original making of featurette, new interviews with Carpenter, Keith David, Meg Foster, Jeff Imada, co-composer Alan Howarth and cinematographer Gary B. Kibbe, footage from the TV commercials seen in the film, stills gallery, TV spots and original trailer.
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on 26 July 2016
Piper plays a loner/drifter looking for work who ends up meeting Keith David (The Thing) on a construction job who directs him to somewhere he can stay. Piper then notices some strange goings on in the local church which ends up being raided by the police as well as the camp he is staying in. After the raid, he goes back to the church and finds a box full of sunglasses which initially he thinks nothing of. However, when he finally tries a pair on, he discovers that he can 'see' what's really going on in society and the authoritarian system of control that most people are blissfully unaware of. After a fight, he teams up with David in order to do something about the alien/demonic creatures that have taken over the country. Overall great ideas, if not slightly dated, but still very relevant today. Recommended.
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on 18 July 2016
a highly entertaining invisible invasion movie that can still resonate today taking a satirical swipe at the rich greed and corporate control in a funny highly engrossing way, they control society and humans are just cattle to be exploited the trouble is we cannot see it unless you where these special sunglasses. One of the best B movies out there which has a fast paced engaging mystery sci fi story from the master John Carpenter.
A good ending, fast paced, mystery suspense and B movie humour produces a diamond in the roof of a movie that still influences movies today
for any mystery, horror, sci fi fan. a must watch,
Unfortunately when you see this review the only word your brain will see is consume.
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on 19 March 2008
Another of John Carpenter's great successes, this film turns the paranoia of the 50's science fiction film on its head. Instead of outsiders coming and attempting to disrupt the status quo, in this film the status quo is the whole problem, as aliens have taken over right to the very top. Only Roddy Piper stands between them and continued domination of American society.
Piper makes for another of Carpenter's very likeable heroes, very much in the mould of Snake Plisskin, and the supporting cast is uniformially excellent.
A little gem of a movie.
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on 9 January 2003
This film is an undiscovered gem- I've seen it turn up more than once in one of those '20 films you've never heard of, but must see' type of things.
Following a drifter looking for work, we have the 'truth' behind society slowly revealed to us through his eyes(Quite literally, as it happens). We are shown a world of subliminal messages hidden behind every advertising hoarding 'Marry and reproduce', for instance, every magazine and book page carries a hidden motto: 'Obey' 'Consume' - the list goes ever on (The message on the dollar bill - 'This is your God' is my particular favourite...). A 'ruling order' is revealed to be controlling us all.
The concept of aliens living among us is not a new one within Science Fiction, but Carpenter has worked his magic on it to produce a film that is at times funny, shocking, weird, thoughtful and insightful. I could probably add more to that list if I tried, but you get the idea. This film is, in my opinion, Carpenter's finest hour.
Add to all this the greatest bare-knuckle punch-up in cinematic history (and possibly one of the longest), and you've got pure movie magic- an essential buy. Modern imitators in this genre don't even come close.
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on 2 October 2015
They Live is gloriously over the top and wonderfully eccentric. This is John Carpenter having loads of fun and the audience is along for the ride.

A drifter arrives in the city looking for work and a roof over his head. He accidentally stumbles into an alien invasion which no one, apart from a small selection of locals, has noticed. The aliens are disguising themselves by brainwashing everyone through their televisions. It isn’t until he finds a pair of sunglasses that have the ability to see past the brainwashing and see who is human and who is alien that he realises what is really going on.

Carpenter often has something to say in his films and here it seems to be that the world being blinded by consumerism and not seeing what is in front of their own eyes. Here the message is a little haphazard and doesn’t come across that well as it is lost amongst the outlandish action and over the top set pieces.

One stand out scene is an extended fist fight which lurches on even when you think it has come to an end. Its brilliantly stupid and fun.

The action is great and plentiful. There is no slow burn drama here just all out gunfights with a pleasingly day-glow gloop to the blood effects. Of course the soundtrack is great and composed by the main man himself.

Silly and fun this is a gem.
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