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Behind the Scenes of John Carpenters’ Cult Classic ‘They Live’

I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick butt, and I’m all out of bubble gum.

They Live BTS
They Live BTS

John Carpenter’s “They Live” has earned cult classic status since its 1988 release. From its iconic campy dialogue to its take on Reagan’s America, “They Live” has aged like fine wine.

After Carpenter began watching more television throughout the 1980s he discovered that capitalism controls our society. However, he didn’t know he wanted to make a movie about this until he read “Eight O’Clock in the Morning,” a short story by Ray Nelson. Soon thereafter Carpenter had a plot for a movie in which aliens manipulate humans to conform to the status quo through subliminal messaging and mass media.

However once our hero, Nada, puts on a pair of special sunglasses he can see the aliens in their true, ghoul-like form. In the photo above Carpenter (right) and a makeup artist fix one of the aliens’ skinless face. According to Carpenter, the aliens represent the yuppies of the 80s and the “rich get richer” conspiracy.

Also pictured above are the sunglasses that Nada uses to see the truth. John Carpenter wears the glasses as well as a director’s viewfinder around his neck while on set.

“They Live” features solid performances from Roddy Piper and Keith David as well as many thought provoking themes. The film is available to stream for free on Peacock.

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