20 Socially Conscious Horror Movies

9 of 21

They Live (1988)

The Issue: Consumerism

The Movie:

Even if you haven’t seen They Live, you’ve probably seen the image of the aliens and the ‘OBEY’ message. Yes, that came from here, not whatever street art you’ve seen it on.

A drifter going by the name John Nada (Roddy Piper, of WWE fame) is working construction in LA when he finds a box of sunglasses. When he puts them on, he can see the world as it really is. Everything is black and white, and media advertisements tell him to obey, conform and consume. The rich and powerful are actually aliens with skeletal faces. Nada confronts one of the aliens, who speaks into her watch and alerts others about him. Alien police offices chase Nada, but he kills them and takes their guns. Nada goes on a shooting spree killing aliens, shooting down a surveillance drone and takes a TV producer hostage. He tries to convince her of the aliens, but she doesn’t believe him and attacks Nada.

Nada runs into his friend from the construction site and forces him to put on the glasses. While the two try to figure out what to do next, a man finds them and tells them about an activist group. They learn the aliens are depleting Earth of its natural resources and causing global warming and will move onto the next planet when they are done. The use subliminal messaging to force people into conforming and not seeing the aliens. The TV producer joins the group and apologizes to Nada, saying she now believes him.

They start attacking the aliens and working their way to the roof of the TV station to destroy the aliens satellite. The TV producer kills Nada’s friend and reveals herself as a human collaborator. Police helicopters arrive and Nada manages to take out both Holly and the satellite before he is killed. Humans all over the world suddenly are able to see the aliens as they really are.

What It’s Saying:
In a nutshell: the media is brainwashing you into complacency while the rich and powerful destroy the Earth. The whole “let’s go on a shooting spree” part is harder to watch now that we live in the age of mass shootings every week, but otherwise it’s a solid political film.