The Terminator (1984)
Director: James Cameron
Lance Henriksen/Detective Vukovich
Two beings from the future are sent into the past to meet up with hottie waitress Sarah Connor (Hamilton). One is an unstoppable cyborg (Schwarzenegger) with an Austrian accent, programmed to kill her and the other is a flesh and blood soldier (Biehn) sent in to protect her. How’s that for a triangle? Take out the artillery and let the fireworks begin!
"You still don't get it, do you? He'll find her. That's what he does! That's all he does! You can't stop him! He'll wade through you, reach down her throat, and pull her fucking heart out!"--- Kyle Reese
Watching "The Terminator" again today felt like re-visiting an old dear badass friend. This movie meant so much to me while growing up as specific lines, scenes and even visual beats have been engraved in my mind for a very long time. There’s just a charm about this picture. How many of you out there went nuts for that silver laser sighted gun the Terminator had? How many of you wore dark sunglasses and a collar up leather jacket after seeing this rottweiler for the first time? I KNOW YOU’RE OUT THERE! Well, I did and yes…I was THAT a-hole.
"The Terminator" is an intelligent, edgy and techno somber sci-fi horror thriller that always reminds me what great genre filmmaking is really all about. While watching this baby today, having seen the sequel (and anticipating the third installment), I couldn’t help but feel that the “less is more” rule applied like a champ. The tackling of its sci-fi elements and action sequences were done on a smaller scale (due to budget) therefore giving the film a gritty, down-to-earth and more serious tone. For me, it gave the whole so much more impact than its big budget sequel.
In my opinion, this is by far Cameron’s more together effort. We get fleshed-out and loveable characters that are given enough screen time to express their pain, anguish and feelings (even the two token side cops were given memorable personalities via solid acting and slick lines). We get awesome dialogue all around (loved the exchange between the shrink and Reese), powerful future flashbacks some of which were action-packed while others were gut-wrenching in their sadness and a wooing love story that never fails to put my heart in a vice.
The cherry on top of this classic (and I stress the word "classic") was the enthralling action/mayhem sequences. The small budget was maximized to its fullest here to give us taunt chase sequences, Mack Truck damage, gripping gun play, motorcycle fun, explosions left and right and a scene that is now beyond-classic in the history of genre cinema: the police station slaughter-party where the now famous line “I’ll be back” was first uttered. Nobody cleaned house like The Terminator!
Shite, what else can I say about this flick that hasn’t already been said a thousand times; I guess I’ll go personal here. The film also sports, what I believe to be, one of the most tightly directed scenes in any film today. Yes, I’m speaking of the ASTOUNDINGLY staged sequence at the “Tech Noir” club. Check this out: the scene starts with the line “that guy didn’t pay” while the slick 80’s tune “Burning in the Third Degree” is booming in the background. It then rides on a delicious slow-motion frenzy up until a gunshot snaps the sequence out of its haze to send it off into full Uzi carnage mode. The club bit adequately ends with a well put line: “Come with me if you want to live”. COME ON! I GOT A CINEMATIC BONER OVER HERE! Now that’s a freaking slick scene! Easily my favorite one in the whole flick. PURE GENIUS!
Any negatives? Not really. Sure, some of the effects didn’t hold up to today’s standards, but that’s now part of the film’s magic. Other than that, maybe if you spend a couple days on it, you’ll find holes in the “time travel” angle, but since I got things to do-- I was all good with it. "The Terminator" is to me a perfect flick and it kicks my ass to fanboy heaven every time that I watch it. The 80’s fashion and tunes alone are worth the price of purchase. “Sarah Connor?”….”Yes?”…BANG-BANG-BANG! FUCK YEAH! !
We get a punch through the gut, lots of bullet hits, gross self-robot surgery (opened forearm / scooped out eyeball), a quick peek at Arnold's dick (now that’s gore!) and a Mack truck in the face. It gets messy.
Arnold Schwarzenegger (T-800) was at the top of his game physically here and that made him quite an imposing and frightening presence. The man IS a machine and nobody says “fuck you asshole” like this guy. Linda Hamilton (Sarah) and Michael Biehn (Kyle) both displayed the right amount of depth, strength and vulnerability. They also had poignant chemistry together. Lance Henriksen (Detective Vukovich) had a small part, but he made it memorable with his own unique brand of acting. Gotta love that duder!
T & A
My mom still thanks me to this day for making her watch "The Terminator" years ago-- she loved that full nude Arnold stuff! The ladies also get the boyfriend character in undies swinging a lamp and Michael Biehn’s bony ass. Us boys get some freshly squeezed Linda Hamilton oranges.
Cameron gave the film a slick ass look via an able smoke machine, grim atmosphere, an expert use of slow motion and sublime lighting. The tension was high, the pace effortless and the action mucho engaging. PERFECT!
We get an awesome aggressive score by Brad Fiedel and some 80’s pop tunes that will make you jism your pants. My favs were "Intimacy" by Linn Van Hek" and "Burnin and In The Third Degree" by Tryanglz.
"The Terminator" is a razor sharp, 80’s kool, beautifully romantic, effect-heavy and violent as hell sci-fi noir thriller. It’s also character driven, very well written and for the time it was made…mucho original. What else do you want from a film? Like seriously, man! It fully satisfied all of my cinematic cravings in one serving. This gem is quite an accomplishment and in my opinion, the best sci-fi film of all time. You're Terminated, f*cker!
Lance Henriksen was initially cast as the Terminator himself, while Schwarzenegger was going to play Reese. Schwarzenegger read the script, and asked to play the Terminator instead.
A scene where somebody picked up the Terminator's CPU after it was crushed was filmed, but never slapped into the movie.
The line "I'll be back" was originally scripted as "I'll come back".