They Live: A Visual and Cultural Awakening

Sold Out
Unit Price
- +

Craig Oldham 

Politics, art, music, comics, literature, philosophy, and of course film, They Live touches on topics that are as relevant now as they were then. Leading cultural figures explore and examine the film’s influence and impact.

Foreword from director, John Carpenter and published by Rough Trade Books.

Written and directed by legendary filmmaker, John Carpenter, They Live (1988) is a science-fiction action film, which belies many of the genres in which it’s cast. Dismissed by critics upon release, the film has gone on to claim a cult following and earned a reputation for its political satire, social commentary, philosophical and technological forecasting, and visual aesthetics—areas in which the film has both inspired and exerted its distinct influences since.

Starring former WWE Wrestler, Roddy Piper, They Live follows an unnamed drifter as he discovers, the ruling class are in fact aliens. Stumbling on an antidoting pair of sunglasses, the truth is revealed. The people in power have been concealing their identity and operating clandestinely to control humanity through consumerism, greed, and subliminal messaging in mass media. On the brink of his discovery, the protagonist, Nada, seizes a magazine from a newsstand and what it unveils changes not only the course of the film, but the aesthetics of counter- culture indefinitely. This publication, is that magazine.


Produced as a perfect replica prop, with exceptional attention to detail, They Live: A Visual and Cultural Awakening celebrates the importance of the film today, and explores its influences, inspiration, and ideas, as well as its relevance to us socially, culturally, and politically.


The book offers commentary through original contributions on the film’s core themes – including street artist, Shepard Fairey, responsible for the Obey label and iconic HOPE poster for Barack Obama; celebrated musician and soundtrack aficionado, John Grant; radical philosopher and thinker, Slavoj Zizek; international subvertising and activist group Brandalism; international horror and science-fiction critic and author, Roger Luckhurst; as well as featuring the original short story Eight O’Clock in the Morning, on which the film is based and its comic adaptation, written by Ray Nelson, and inked by Bill Wray of Ren and Stimpy fame. It also features the work of artists Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Guerrilla Girls and more.


Subliminal messages play with your mind throughout, as well as the smell of bubblegum, and even an essay written in the language of the film’s aliens and the means to decode it. This distinct and meticulous book is a must for any film lover, and is an artefact to behold in both its object and conceptual sense.