The Terminator

Year: 1984

Director: James Cameron

Written by: James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd

Threat: Robot

Weapon of Choice: Gun

Based upon: Original

IMDb page: IMDb link

      The Terminator

Other movies in this series:
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Rish's Reviews
In a great future war between humans and machines, the machines attempt to destroy the leader of the human resistence before he is even born ("a sort of retro-active abortion") by sending a cyborg killing machine back in time to murder his mother before she conceives. Humanity is able to send someone back to protect her, and a classic is born.
One of the greatest movies of the 1980's. I first saw Terminator when it was broadcast on NBC in the mid 80's. Even then, I knew who the Terminator was and recognized it as a important movie. In the years since then, my love for this film has only grown. It is simple and it is complex, it is funny and it is sad, it is cheap and violent, yet it is painstakingly created and beautiful. Thank you, James Cameron.
Arnold Swarzenegger is awesome as the Terminator, cold, strong, emotionless evil, threatening even bare naked, but so riveting the role made him a superstar. His target, young and naive Sarah Connor, is beautifully played by Linda Hamilton, the first in a series of Cameron's well-cast female leads. Michael Biehn, who should have become a star, is great as Kyle Reese, Sarah's sole protector from the most unstoppable villain imaginable.
Paul Winfield and Lance Henriksen share the best comedy in this generally very dark film as the policemen who try, unsuccessfully, to protect Sarah with their 20th century training. Our good friend Bill Paxton appears briefly with blue hair ("Nice night for a walk, eh?"), promising to bring me joy in Cameron films to come. And lest we forget, Dick Miller, who tells us that an UZI 9 millimeter is ideal for home defense.
I love this film, from the gritty and cheap look to it, to the pulsing, pounding electronic score by Brad Fiedel; from the surreal, almost poetic love story, to its resigned and pessimistic final line of dialogue. Though the 1991 sequel is more widely known and more popular, there's something in the original that's superior and more endearing to me.
I'd Recommend It To: Just see it again, okay?

The tyranist's thoughts
I'm not even going to argue with you about whether this is horror or not. If you want to find my justification, read my Terminator 2: Judgment Day review.
We've all seen this movie so I don't think that anybody out there is really interested it me rehashing the plot. Instead I will just rave for a second. In his inimitable way James Cameron has inserted himself and his ideas into the American psyche. The Terminator was really the beginning of this. Prior to directing this he had only done Piranha 2: The Spawning which really wasn't completely under his creative control. But here, when he finally held the reins he created something that is just as much a part of our culture as tea is to the British. Everyone knows who the Terminator is. Everyone.
Going back and watching it again (it had been a couple of years) brought a ton of amazement. The movie is gritty and sort of low-budget looking in parts. Some of the special effects aren't that special. But the acting is great. The concept is great and everything seems to be carries with a special dignity. I'm not always a good judge of what is classic (ask Rish about Dune) but this one definitely endures into an age with much better tools.

Total Skulls: 16

Sequel setup
Rips off earlier film
Horror film showing on TV/in theater in movie
Future celebrity appears skull Bill Paxton
Former celebrity appears
Bad title
Bad premise
Bad acting
Bad dialogue
Bad execution
MTV Editing
OTS skull
Girl unnecessarily gets naked
Wanton sex skull
Death associated with sex
Unfulfilled promise of nudity
Characters forget about threat skull
Secluded location
Power is cut skull
Phone lines are cut
Someone investigates a strange noise
Someone runs up stairs instead of going out front door
Camera is the killer skull
Victims cower in front of a window/door skull
Victim locks self in with killer
Victim running from killer inexplicably falls
Toilet stall scene
Shower/bath scene
Car stalls or won't start skull
Cat jumps out
Fake scare skull
Laughable scare
Stupid discovery of corpse
Dream sequence skull
No one believes only witness skull
Crazy, drunk, old man knows the truth
Music detracts from scene
Death in first five minutes skull
x years before/later skull
Dark and stormy night
Killer doesn't stay dead skullskull
Killer wears a mask skull
Killer is in closet
Killer is in car with victim
Villain is more sympathetic than heroes
Unscary villain/monster
Blood fountain
Blood hits camera
Poor death effect
Excessive gore
No one dies at all
Virgin survives
Geek/Nerd survives
Little kid lamely survives
Dog/Pet miraculously survives
Unresolved subplots
"It was all a dream" ending
Unbelievably happy ending
Unbelievably crappy ending
What the hell?