A drifter finds a pair of sunglasses which allow him to see subliminal messages behind advertisements. What's more he sees some people are actually aliens in disguise, and they're behind these messages. The aliens also control big business and the media.
Final Verdict ★★★☆☆
This is another 80's cult favourite from director John Carpenter. The movie title refers to a graffiti seen in the movie which reads "They Live, We Sleep". Some of the subliminal messages are: obey, marry and reproduce, no independent thought, consume, watch TV, buy, conform, sleep, submit, stay asleep, do not question authority, no imagination.
The sunglasses are a metaphor for having an open mind and seeing the establishment's real motivations. I found this coupled with the alien invasion to be an excellent premise. The surveillance drones and the alien transportation systems were nice touches.
The alien invasion part of the story was quite basic, the aliens transmit a signal which hides the subliminal messages and the alien physical appearance from humans. There is a resistance movement which manufactures the sunglasses which block the alien signal.
The main character is played by Roddy Piper, a professional wrestler, so the fight scenes are very good. However the acting in general was not good. The special effects were not great either. The dialogue was atrocious. Watch it for the unique premise.