Director: James Cameron
Written by: James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd
Weapon of Choice: Gun
Based upon: Original
Other movies in this series:
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
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
|Rips off earlier film|
|Horror film showing on TV/in theater in movie|
|Future celebrity appears||Bill Paxton|
|Former celebrity appears|
|Girl unnecessarily gets naked|
|Death associated with sex|
|Unfulfilled promise of nudity|
|Characters forget about threat|
|Power is cut|
|Phone lines are cut|
|Someone investigates a strange noise|
|Someone runs up stairs instead of going out front door|
|Camera is the killer|
|Victims cower in front of a window/door|
|Victim locks self in with killer|
|Victim running from killer inexplicably falls|
|Toilet stall scene|
|Car stalls or won't start|
|Cat jumps out|
|Stupid discovery of corpse|
|No one believes only witness|
|Crazy, drunk, old man knows the truth|
|Music detracts from scene|
|Death in first five minutes|
|x years before/later|
|Dark and stormy night|
|Killer doesn't stay dead|
|Killer wears a mask|
|Killer is in closet|
|Killer is in car with victim|
|Villain is more sympathetic than heroes|
|Blood hits camera|
|Poor death effect|
|No one dies at all|
|Little kid lamely survives|
|Dog/Pet miraculously survives|
|"It was all a dream" ending|
|Unbelievably happy ending|
|Unbelievably crappy ending|
|What the hell?|