They Live (1988) – Horror Movie and Fantastic Allegory

By Melissa Antoinette Garza


They Live has grown from a little known gem to a cult classic with mainstream acceptance over the years.  At the very least, it is a great movie with one of the best fight scenes ever and even better action lines.  At most, it’s a prophetic and very relevant analysis of our government and the corporations that sell the merchandise we consume.

I’ll provide a summary for this film though I hardly believe one is necessary.  Nada (The Hot Rod Rowdy Piper) is an unemployed drifter looking for work.  He goes to an agency that can’t help him.  Finally, he finds a small job at a construction site.  Piper is perfect in this role and is at his best!

Nearby a church, there’s a large group of people living outside in tents.  Nada joins them.  One of the drifters (Buck Walters) gets angry at the TV when a man interrupts the satellite and warns of a dangerous elite who are attempting to take over the world and keep the people asleep.  Think Illuminati and the New World Order.

Nada gets curious and you know what they say about curiosity.  He walks into the church and looks around.  He hears the group of individuals who had broken through the airwaves discussing methods to make the people see.

Before they can come to a conclusion, the police attack.  Hundreds of cops in SWAT Gear show up with an excavator and ruins the entire place.  The drifters run away.  Nada grabs a box and leaves as well.

The box is just filled with sunglasses.  Not sure why they are so important, he hides the box and takes out a pair.  After putting them on, he begins to see the truth.

Everything we consciously see is a façade.  It’s a deliberate mask to hide what our subconscious sadly knows too well.  Every magazine, advertisement and product on store shelves has an alternative and subliminal message.  Stay Asleep.  Consume.  Marry.  Reproduce.  Don’t Question Authority.  Watch TV.  Work 8 Hour Days.  Sleep 8 Hour Days.  Don’t Think. These are the true messages.  And why do they want us to stay asleep – so that they may take complete control.

Nada flips through magazines shocked.  He removes the glasses and puts them back on.  What he sees without them is definitely different than what he sees with them.  Without them on, the pages seem to have pictures and articles, but with them it’s a blank white page with just the message written.

Worse than the subliminal messages, are the things behind them.  They’re not human.  One businessman who seems at least relatively wealthy is standing beside him.  With the glasses the man’s true face is seen.  He’s looks like a skeleton.

Nada walks into a grocery store where he sees more of these skeletons.  All of these things are in suits or dressed as high class individuals.  On the television, the president talks about how we have turned around – but he’s a skeleton too.  Nada laughs and says aloud, “figures it’d be something like this.”

When Nada insults one of these things they all start speaking through their watch telling the larger authority that he can see.  Outside, he is held up by police who too are skeletons.  He shoots them both and then runs.

He ends up getting a shotgun and going into a bank saying one of the greatest lines of all time, “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum.”  He does just that by blowing away all of the skeletons.

He ends up running into Frank (Keith David) his construction buddy who now wants nothing to do with him.  Frank thinks Nada is loco.  The two get into an epic battle where finally Nada forces Frank to put on a pair of the glasses.  Once Frank sees it too, he joins forces with Nada to takes these jerks on.

The problem is that some people do know they exist and they’ve joined forces.  Even with the glasses, they can’t detect a deceptive traitor among the human race.

The film is fantastic for so many reasons, but the most important is that it is so reflective of today’s society.  What the government and the media present as facts are false.  Thankfully, there are outside sources that help us get to the truth.  Alex Jones of and is definitely a great source.

On 9/11, I was on my way to college.  I had heard the first plane hit over the radio.  At the time, I thought it was an accident.  Then, the second plane hit when I was in school.  We were dismissed for the day.  I went home and stayed in front of the TV for days.

For the most part, I didn’t think “deception” until it was announced we were heading to Iraq.  The reason that stood out was because a professor at the time had said, “Bush is going to find some reason to invade Iraq.  Watch, something will happen that will make us invade.”

When that happened, it clicked.  Something was seriously wrong.  I started a journey that led me to find out about the Illuminati and The New World Order.  I watched documentaries about the falling towers, and I heard multiple architects speak.  I heard the people who were there talk.  I looked at the mainstream media and programs I respected like Penn & Teller Bullshit that tried to take a part the conspiracy.  I wanted them to, but the only thing they really did was call conspiracy theorists cooks.  Of course, the mainstream had their own conspiracy –and that didn’t make any sense.

This wasn’t the first time I doubted what the media told.  Not by a long shot.  After I learned about the Pentagon Papers, The Tuskegee Project, COINTELPRO, and the proposed Operation Northwoods – to name a few – I was definitely open-minded.  After being sickened by all I learned within the book Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions since WWII by William Blum (highly recommended), seeing 9/11 as an inside job was much easier to swallow.

I don’t dismiss or disdain those who believe what the government says.  They’ve been brainwashed by the media their entire life.  Americans are raised to look at the government, the way a sports fan cheers for their team.  Worse than that, they are trained to look at the government as America.  Any doubts about them or negative words towards them equates to treason.

I love America, but the government is dirty and the only legislation that is being passed are those that is used to further control the people and those that gives more power to the corporations.

As for the corporations, they are known to use subliminal advertising to encourage consumption of their products.

They Live is without a doubt one of the clearest and most honest allegories that I’ve ever seen.

Scared Stiff Rating: 10/10