Contributed by: Dennis O'Brien
This film has a heavy Liberal subtext to it, sort of a lashing out at the Reagan 1980s where the rich got richer and the poor got left behind. Anyway, one of the movie's original tag-lines was: "You see them on the street. You watch them on TV. You might even vote for one this fall. You think they're people just like you. You're wrong. Dead wrong." This was 1988 so that's an attack on eventual President George Bush. In fact, when Piper looks up at a television set and sees a leader standing in front of a sign that reads, through the glasses, Obey, the guy sounds an awful lot like George Bush.
Roddy Piper's character is never named in the movie, but in the credits he is listed simply as "Nada", which is Spanish for "Nothing".
The famous "Bubblegum" line was adlibbed by Roddy Piper.
The screenplay was attributed to "Frank Armitage", who is really John Carpenter
The communicators that the guards in the underground complex use are really P.K.E. meters from the movie Ghostbusters.
The "Bubblegum" line became such a pop-culture phrase, that it was included as one of the lines frequently quoted in the 1990's video game "Duke Nukem".
Contributed by: Byron Law
I have the UK R2 DVD which features a commentary with Piper and Carpenter and Piper states that he agrees with what the film is saying and that it needed to be said. Many, but not all, of the homeless people in the movie were real LA homeless people that were fed and paid to be extras. Many of them were hired, employed actors attempting to get the message of the homeless out to the masses. Piper praises Carpenter for this and says that although the problem is not as bad now it needs to be fixed by the government. He also says that he knows what is like to be homeless as he has lived on the streets. I can confirm from this commentary that Piper is not a Reagan fan.
The special glasses are called "Hoffman Glasses". This may be in reference to a US Patent for a way to make capacitors (US3544330: GLASSES AND CAPACITOR DIELECTRIC COMPOSITIONS MADE THEREFROM). Another theory is that they are in reference to Albert Hoffman, the "inventor" of the drug LSD.
The budget for the movie was only $3,000,000.
Contributed by: Jeff / Mike George
We used to say that the fight scene between Roddy and Keith’s characters is the longest in cinematic history. Nearly 8 minutes long.
However, Mike George writes in to point out that:
The fight scene in "They Live" is not as stated on your website 'the longest in Film History'. You may be thinking of American films only (even if you are it still doesn't count as the longest - there's a longer scene in one of the Matrix films), but you only have to turn to Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee to know that there are scenes from their films which are longer than 8 minutes. For example, in Drunken Master, the fight scene between Jackie Chan and 'Thunderleg' runs in excess of 10 minutes.
The Roddy Piper v Keith David scene is epic though, and it certainly feels like the longest fight scene in Film History!
-Ed note: In our defense we probably put that up long before 1999 when The Matrix came out ;-)
While this movie may have had a liberal subtext to it, I read somewhere that Roddy Piper didn't agree with the movie's politics.
Contributed by: John Edward Kilduff
A shot-for-shot spoof of Roddy and Keith's fight scene was used in the "South Park" episode "Cripple Fight".
Contributed by: Secret Admirer
Holly Thompson is the only character with a last name in the movie.