They Live (1988)

Genres - Horror, Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Alien Film, Political Satire, Sci-Fi Action  |   Release Date - Nov 4, 1988 (USA)  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Robert Firsching

John Carpenter's inventive social satire centers on the notion that aliens with faces which look like melted skulls have paid off some rich people to take over the world. The aliens live among us, and subjugate the underclasses while constantly bombarding us with subliminal messages urging conspicuous consumption. Wrestling's Roddy Piper plays the average Joe who finally discovers the truth when he stumbles on a pair of special sunglasses which allow him to see both the messages and the aliens' true faces, as well as the startling secret that reality is really black-and-white. It's an interesting concept, and Carpenter plays it to the fullest, although the casting is a bit suspect. The action scenes are well-handled, the satire pointedly blunt. It might make a nice second feature to Bulworth on a night of mildly subversive video viewing.