Top 10 Best Terminator Rip-Offs!

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

With T-minus less than two months until TERMINATOR: DARK FATE bombards the Cineplex, what better time to ask this: aside from T-2: JUDGMENT DAY, which of the TERMINATOR sequels and reboots do you dig the most? Crack your skull and leak some brain matter on the subject below!

In the meantime, as we prepare for the epic long-awaited return of Linda Hamilton as the badass Sarah Connor, we thought it’s be a killer idea to rehash, with true adoration, some of the all-time best TERMINATOR rip-offs, knock-jobs and awesomely unabashed imitators. Shouldn’t be too difficult right, there are only about 6,378 of these sumbitches. We know the obvious might be CYBORG, but to be more accurate, we’re sizing up coldblooded action thrillers rather than cybernetic martial arts joints. Still, there’s a little something for everyone. Check out our Top 10 Best Terminator Rip-Offs Below!


Also known as THE RETALIATOR, one of the coolest aspects of PROGRAMMED TO KILL is how it swaps genders to prop CONAN vixen Sandahl Bergman as the estrogen-fueled bionic ass-kicker known as Samira, a former terrorist who gets in too deep when the CIA apprehends her in Greece. Samira is extradited back to the states, where a team of scientists transform her into a cybernetic slayer. The plan? Send Samira back to the middle east and use her newfangled technological weaponry to utterly waylay the rivaling terrorist factions. Only problem is Samira has a mind of her own and a lethal operating system only she can control. Keep an eye peeled for a young Paul Walker!


Score another one for the ladies! Indeed, our second list entry, EVE OF DESTRUCTION, also features a gender-bending robotic murderer in the bald attempt to recreate the success of Jimmy Cameron’s TERMINATOR. Here’s the difference. In the film, stunning Dutch siren Renée Soutendijk (SUSPIRIA) at once plays the brilliant creator, Dr. Eve Simmons, and her own murderous offspring, Eve VIII – both Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s monster if you will – as she’s sent into the big city armed with a nuclear bomb. It’s up to her human counterpart and Col. Jim McQuade (good old Gregory Hines) to find Eve VIII and disarm before she detonates and turns the city into n ashy nuclear winter. GET HERE

#8. HANDS OF STEEL (1986)

Holy f*ck! The great Italian genre and Giallo maestro Sergio Martino (TORSO, ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK) went full-blown TERMINATOR sellout in 1986 with the shameless action-thriller HANDS OF STEEL, which in turn, clearly inspired Sly Stallone’s equally hilarious arm wrestling farce, OVER THE TOP, just one year later. That’s one for the history books! John the mother*cking boss Saxon plays an ultra-greasy tech tycoon who creates a cyborg named Paco (Daniel Green), assigning it to assassinate an ecological leader who threatens to undermine his business. When Paco can’t get the job done, he flees for the desert, where he puts those Hands of Steel on every assailant and wrongdoer that dare sneer his way. GET HERE

#7. CLASS OF 1999 (1990) 

Cribbing the visual aesthetics more than the storyline, CLASS OF 1999 still boasts a pretty badass sci-fi premise. A futuristic high-school arms its teachers not with guns per se, but with an undercover robotic staff! For further ties to Arnie, look no further than director Mark L. Lester, who not only made this movie as a sequel to his 1982 crime flick CLASS OF 1984, but also directed the Schwarzanator himself in COMMANDO in 1985. Malcolm McDowell and Stacy Keach work wonders trying to steal scenes from the magnetic Pam Grier and Traci Lind, but fail to do so at almost every turn. We’ve got the black leather jackets, metallic endoskeletons, the literal Gatling-gun arm and more! GET HERE

#6. DIGITAL MAN (1995) 

Damn, look at our boy Matty Hues dumpin' the lead! If you haven’t already done so, check out our review and interview of Matthias Hues’ killer new memoir, Shirtless in Hollywood, on shelves now. You won’t be disappointed! In the meantime, allow us to refresh your memory regarding DIGITAL MAN, a highly enjoyable knockoff about a hulking, red-eyed Robo-Nator who threatens a small town after going haywire. Hues plays the titular titan, with support coming from a roster of D-list celebrity siblings like Don Swayze and Adam Baldwin. Grizzled vets Paul Gleason and Ed Lauter give lead Ken Olandt solid support, but make no mistake, it’s Hues hour of ultimate destruction as he razes a tight-knit community with mirthless abandon!


Please tell us you’ve seen Jean-Claude Lord’s splendid Canadian import THE VINDICATOR. No? Then it’s homework night for all you non-back-to-schoolers! Also known as FRANKENSTEIN ’88, the flick focuses on Carl Lehman (David McIlwraith), a dedicated employee working on a top-secret government mission. A major mishap ensues in the special weapons unit and the result morphs Carl into a cybernetic slaughterer programmed to terminate every damn thing that dare cross his path. The lovely Pam Grier makes her second appearance on this Top 10, with Richard Cox, Maury Chaykin and Teri Austin lending support. A fun, f*cked up and fiercely ferocious film!

#4. HARDWARE (1990) 

Ah yeah, we all remember HARDWARE, don’t we? F*ck yeah we do! One of the more critically extolled killer-robot TERMINATOR offshoots, not to mention the most brutally violent, Richard Stanley’s bleak vision of the future is just as memorable as that of Cameron’s original TERMINATOR. After nuclear fallout leaves the Earth a deserted wasteland, a scrap merchant called Nomad (Carl McCoy) comes across a disembodied robot skull. Thinking it cute to gift to his girlfriend for her sculpture collection, regrets come fast and hard when the skull animates, begins to reassemble itself, then goes on a rampaging carnage-fest of the goriest proportions. Cut from an original X-rating, HARDWARE is as hardcore as they come! GET HERE

#3. NEMESIS (1992) 

While we consciously omitted his earlier CYBORG title, Albert Pyun’s NEMESIS deserves nothing less than bronze-level mention as a more accurate, and just as entertaining, terrifying TERMINATOR homage. To be honest, this entire series is sort of slept on! Olivier Gruner plays Alex, a spun-out L.A. copper assigned to protect highly valuable data that his old partner has sent to a group of cybernetic terrorists. Some bona fide baddies in the form of Brion James and Tim Thomerson are out to deter Alex from completing his mission, which may or may not be legit. The cool film-noir tropes Pyun channels here is what both sets it apart from the rest on this list, while hewing most to the original TERMINATOR tableau! GET HERE


Come on now, if it ain’t Arnold, what better tandem than Dolph and Van Damme can one craven action-fan ask for as a replacement? Indeed, Roland Emmerich’s overly-silly-serious, downright supercilious, sci-fi spectacle takes the kernel of TERMINATOR’s premise and plants in a new territory altogether. You know what’s up. Luc Deveraux (JCVD) and Andrew Scott (Lundgren) get fracked in Nam, only to have the army reanimate them as a pair of bionic-zombie-super-soldiers. One problem, the memory wipes aren’t effective enough, and soon Luc and Drew are conjuring old wounds and following their own orders. The expensive FX-driven marvel is top-tier-low-brow action at its finest! GET HERE

#1. THE HIDDEN (1987)

Iniquitously so, THE HIDDEN sort of remains just that. A maddeningly overlooked film, Jack Sholder’s THE HIDDEN picks up where Cameron not only left off in THE TERMINATOR, but in ALIENS as well, giving us a slithering organic bio-organism from another dimension to correspond with the dystopic urban iconography known in both. Shite’s insane! The plot takes too many twists and turns to enumerate here, but trust us, this is the highest quality action-horror-sci-fi flick on this list, and one that owes the most to THE TERMINATOR’s dourly gravid tone. That it doesn’t resort to aping a robotic android is seen as a plus, but the real standout is the stellar FX work and performances by Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Nouri! HERE

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