Ten Things You Might Not Know About… They Live!

10. Roddy Piper’s character never gives his name nor is he referred to by name throughout the entire movie. He is simply referred to as “Nada” in the credits, which means “nothing” in Spanish. The name is most likely a reference to George Nada, the main character of Ray Nelson’s short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning,” which was the basis for ‘They Live’

9. Director John Carpenter is the voice that says “sleep”when Nada wears the glasses

8. John Carpenter has said of this movie that it was a critique of Reaganomics, a “vehicle to take on Reaganism”.

7. John Carpenter wanted a truly rugged individual to play Nada. He cast wrestler Roddy Piper in the lead role after seeing him in WrestleMania III

6. Roddy Piper, being a married man at the time of filming, refused to take his wedding band off. That’s why in several scenes you can see a wedding ring on.

5. The communicators that the guards use are the P.K.E. meters from Ghostbusters

4. The big fight sequence was designed, rehearsed and choreographed in the back-yard of director John Carpenter’s production office. The fight between Nada  and Frank was only supposed to last twenty seconds, but Piper and Keith David decided to fight it out for real, only faking the hits to the face and groin. They rehearsed the fight for three weeks. Carpenter was so impressed he kept the five minutes and twenty seconds scene intact.

3. The line “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubble gum” was ad-libbed by Roddy Piper. According to director John Carpenter, Piper had taken the line from a list of ideas he had for his pro wrestling interviews

2. The only character given a first and last name is Holly Thompson (Meg Foster).

1. There is a thinly veiled jab at film critics Siskel & Ebert, with both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert as aliens. “Siskel” is denouncing George A. Romero and John Carpenter as too violent. (In fact, Siskel had written a scathing review of Romero’s Night of the Living Dead)

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William Burns
Staff Writer at Horror News Network

Bill Burns joined the Horror News Network staff in 2014. Bill Burns grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, the second Golden Age of Horror. His mind was warped by John Carpenter, H.P. Lovecraft, In Search Of…, and the Man, Myth, and Magic series of books.


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