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Directed by John Carpenter

United States 1988 94 mins. In English

John Carpenter—absolutely a master filmmaker by 1988, with such key films as Assault on Precinct 13, Escape from New York, and The Thing (among many other greats) under his belt—delivered with They Live the most withering critique of mass media since Sidney Lumet’s Network. Now considered a key film of the 1980s, the film imagines a world in which the ruling class are aliens manipulating the masses through subliminal messaging delivered via mass media. Only “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s nameless hero is equipped to see through the ruse, using his magical glasses (well, and his wrestler’s physique and toughness). A critical influence on a generation of filmmakers and artists (including Shepard Fairey, of course), They Live is an incredibly visionary film still ahead of its time.