"They Live"– Great Movie, Better Short Story

I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I am all out of bubblegum.


“They Live” is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated science-fiction movies of  the past 25 years. A working-class hero, John Nada, dons magic sunglasses that filter

They Live Movie Poster
They Live Movie Poster

out an alien mind-control signal and allow him to see the world as it truly is. He quickly discovers  pervasive, subliminal  mind-control and aliens living among us. Happily, this is a John Carpenter movie, so no trying to “understand” or “negotiate” with the aliens.  Nada decides to make his feelings known about the alien invasion with one of the best lines in film history(click the link above to see it in all its glory)….and a shotgun!

Originally something of a box office flop, “They Live” aged well and developed a cult following. I enjoy it for its commentary about 1980s consumerism and self-involvement. It also has one of the longest fight scenes in movie history executed by the star, a former pro wrestler.  All of which makes it a movie that much better.

Back in college, I watched the film and noticed a reference to the original short story entitled “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” by Ray Nelson in the credits.  I tracked down the story and thought it very good. It dawned on me last night that most people have no idea what the film is based upon, so this post is to rectify that situation.  There are major differences between the short story and the film of course, but that is normal for anything Hollywood touches.  “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” is very short, only 1800 words and is one of the best arguments that longer does not mean better when it comes to writing.

You can read a version of “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” at the link below. It is also available on Amazon in various short story collections.

“Eight O’Clock in the Morning”

The author maintains a web site at raynelson.com with some biographical information and a bibliography, if you are interested. Interesting author biographical tidbit, Ray Nelson claims to have invented the propeller beanie!

Trask, The Last Tyromancer



Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.