Mixed or average reviews - based on 10 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 10
  2. Negative: 4 out of 10
  1. All in all, an entertaining (if ideologically incoherent) response to the valorization of greed in our midst, with lots of Rambo-esque violence thrown in, as well as an unusually protracted slugfest between ex-wrestler Roddy Piper and costar Keith David.
  2. Has its share of underthought or overwrought moments. The tone keeps shifting radically. It has some silly lines, plot lapses and goofball action scenes. But you can forgive the movie everything because of the sheer nasty pizazz of its central concept. [4 Nov 1988]
  3. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Live dies around the time Carpenter allows 10 minutes of gratuitous Piper-David eye-gouging, an apparent bone to wrestling fans. Forget the amusing premise; a full crate of magic glasses couldn't make this a bearable movie. [7 Nov 1988]
  4. 75
    The looniest movie of the season and also one of the most engaging. [7 Nov 1988]
  5. Mr. Carpenter has directed the film with B-movie bluntness, but with none of the requisite snap. And his screenplay (written under the pseudonym Frank Armitage) makes the principals sound even more tongue-tied than they have to. [4 Nov 1988, p.C8]
  6. Typical of some of the absurd moments in this film is a long drawn-out fist fight between the hero and Frank, who almost kill each other because Frank is too proud to try on the magic dark glasses. It is completely stupid. [5 Nov 1988]
  7. Reviewed by: Chris Klimek
    Dec 3, 2013
    They Live is, to scramble its most famous line, better at chewing bubblegum than kicking ass.
  8. Reviewed by: Staff (Non Credited)
    Carpenter is trying for a satire of advertising and consumerism under late capitalism, and although the film is great fun at first--especially when depicting the world through Nada's glasses--it rarely rises above the intellectual level of a comic book.
  9. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    A fantastically subversive film, a nifty little confection pitting us vs them, the haves vs the have-nots.
  10. Reviewed by: Richard Harrington
    The plot for They Live is full of black holes, the acting is wretched, the effects are second-rate. In fact, the whole thing is so preposterous it makes "V" look like "Masterpiece Theatre." [5 Nov 1988]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 49 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. Dec 1, 2011
    The movie was well ahead of its time if one considers contemporary affairs (2011). The premise is both satirically hilarious and compelling on its own terms. The execution is admirable. This is a must see cult-classic. Full Review »
  2. Sep 21, 2014
    Unexpectedly I loved it. Amazing fight between Piper and David! Nice bluesy-country feel to Carpenter's soundtrack. It really showed Carpenter's strengths, both in terms of ideas and visual storytelling. Piper's ad-libbed dialogue was hit and miss, probably the film's only weakness, but still had some wonderful gold to mine. Sad to say, due to the state of the world, this is a film that not only doesn't age, but is years ahead of its time. Full Review »
  3. Sep 23, 2013
    I love this movie. john carpenter has a way of making his actors iconic. he did it with kurt russel and he does it here with rod piper. The premise of the movie is pure genius and makes you think and mistrust the begin to question the world around you. The violence is over the top fun and the one liners are the best ever. Full Review »