Galaxies Of Terror: Where SF Collides With Horror

It’s Always Midnight In Space…  

sci-fi-horror

“The fundamental premise remains the same: What lies in wait in the darkness of space?” – Space.com

Often, the realm of science fiction delves into wondrous and inventive imagery, but when you consider the darkness and dread that lurks “in the coldest regions of space,” the potential to unleash the most unutterable terrors becomes boundless (budget-permitting of course).

With Halloween fast approaching like a relentless Imperial Star Destroyer, and elements of horror spliced into SF as long as motion pictures have existed, the results can turn out to be truly horrendous.

Instead of making contact, alien monsters would much rather feast on astronaut flesh; drain the lifeforce from living humans; or reanimate dead humans. Nudity is just as bountiful as gore; distress signals and fog machines are commonplace; and if you should ever stumble upon the work of Roger Corman, for pity’s sake, DO NOT HESITATE to make the jump to light-speed…  

vampires-dead-astronauts-rising-from-the-grave

planet-of-the-vampires-1965

“I stole the giant skeleton from Planet of the Vampires… It struck me as evocative. It had this curious mixture that you can get in these Italian films of spectacularly good production design…” – Dan O’Bannon. 

In Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires (1965) original Italian title: Terrore Nello Spazio, two spaceships: the Argos and Galliot respond to a distress signal from a previously unchartered planet. On landing, for no apparent reason, the crew of the Argos attack each other. After overcoming this malevolent psychosis, they quickly find out that – oh no! – the same madness gripped the Galliot’s crew but nobody survived.

It’s not long before their buried bodies rise up and stalk the Argos crew. There then follows a tense and unsettling fight for survival. What Planet of the Vampires lacks in production values, it piles on skilfully eerie atmospherics, evoking a dark and lonely feel to its overall look.

The title is quite erroneous. The alien entities that rise from the newly-prepared graves are not vampires; they’re not bloodsuckers; and they certainly do not talk with Eastern European accents. Planet of the Strange Entities That Exist On A Different Vibratory Frequency And Possess Dead Bodies” would have made a more accurate title. On this godforsaken world, the fog-machine is working on spooky overdrive. 

At first glance, it looks so different from its ’60s contemporaries, but then you realise what an obvious influence on numerous subsequent sci-fi/horrors it is. Possibly the most (in)famous of all such outings: Ridley Scott’s second-best film: Alien shares so many similarities in both tone and imagery. The “space jockey” – one of this 1979 classic’s most iconic images – was lifted from what Bava portrayed originally.

galaxy_of_terror_1981-c

mutant-1982

“Forget the story, ’cause there isn’t one, but see it for the gory bits and marvelous gutsy make-up. Yech!” – Time Out.   

Galaxy of Terror (1981) aka Mindwarp also appears to be a rehash of Planet of the Vampires with its premise of the crew of one spacecraft haunted – oh no! – by projections of their own deepest fears materialized by an ancient alien pyramid. This, by the way, is the one featuring a young, pre-Freddy Krueger Robert Englund, and Erin Moran (Joanie from Happy Days). 

Honestly, it is difficult to tell the difference between this and the following year’s Forbidden World. James Cameron is credited as a production assistant; the less said about its notorious worm-rape scene the better… 

Nothing could prepare you for Mutant aka Forbidden World (1982) – another bargain basement bomber from Roger Corman. In a research lab on the remote planet of Xarbia, a genetic experiment is developed which – oh no! – goes berserk and hunts the scientists down one by one.

Talk about cheap…

Within a few minutes, you realise that the same set from Galaxy of Terror is being (re)used, and – presumably to immediately catch the viewer’s attention – an unnecessary laser battle is inserted… using effects footage directly pilfered from Corman’s cult space opera: Battle Beyond the Stars.

Incredibly, this lab boasts not one, but two, “ridiculously hot” scientists who spend much of their screentime scantily clad or completely starkers. As this is 1982, the soundtrack consists of shrill synths; and the sheer tackiness of the mutant itself is offset by filming it mostly in semi-darkness.

Still, on the plus-side, it does feature SAM-104, the android pilot who is one of the more distinctive characters of ’80s cult SF.

LifeforceSpaceship

Lifeforce-1

“Lifeforce is a pretty curious specimen in its own right. Its sci-fi/horror concept is epic in scale and metaphysical reach, but the casting is catchpenny…” – Parallax View.  

Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce (1985) – based on the novel: The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson – turned out to be a really infuriating watch. The opening is actually quite impressive: a rousing score by Henry Mancini sets the scene for some rather spectacular imagery: the HMS Churchill shuttle, on a mission to study Halley’s Comet – traditionally considered to be a harbinger of doom – detects, in the coma of the comet, a derelict, artificial structure: 150 miles long. Inside, a search party discover dozens of desiccated giant bats and three naked humanoids: two male and one female. 

But – oh no! – they have to take the bodies back to Earth. As this is a British sci-fi/horror movie, the terrible trio “awake” in the European Space Research Centre in London. The males are obliterated, but the female wanders off into the night. The capital is quickly reduced into one bat-shit bonkers zombiefest. Preposterous!

Talk about amateurish effects: those lifeforceless “corpses” could have done with a tad more convincing animation. And the “actors” appear to have graduated from the Mindwarp School of Acting… 

“Approach with caution.”

So, best not to splice these two genres together – results can invariably turn out to be… disastrous. 

*

And, if that wasn’t scary enough, try this on Saturday night… if you dare!

The-Martian-Teaser-poster1-slide

NIGHT OF THE DAMON!

CHILLS! He can’t remember who he is!

SPILLS! He beats up anybody and everybody who gets in his way!

THRILLS! He absolutely will not stop until he’s got whatever he wants… whatever that is…

*

Only joking. 

For Halloween this year, my favourite horror movie will be dusted down, replayed and reviewed on Saturday.

Can you guess what it is? 

Here’s a couple of clues: it was not made in the last thirty years (obviously!)

And it doesn’t feature any fog machines… 

comments

Sweet dreams!

Advertisements

“Give Me Genisys!”: Or Is This A Case Of Ever Decreasing Sequels?

He Said He’d Be Back…

terminator-genisys-wallpaper

“It’s wild… it’s just amazing what they’ve accomplished with the visual effects and then to see yourself the way you were, it’s really fantastic. They’ve imitated exactly the motions and the fights, the way I walked. All this can now be duplicated exactly the same way…” – Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The hardest thing is deciding what to tell you and what not to.

Should this Post tell you that this sequel turns out to be nothing special, barely more agreeable than the last two misguided efforts? That’s a tough one. Will it change your decision to venture to the cinema… knowing? And to think “they” plan to make two more sequels – as part of an intended trilogy – which may be of rapidly decreasing quality?!

God, you can go crazy thinking about all this…

Sure, you can’t deny it’s fantastic to see Arnold Schwarzenegger, back reprising his most iconic role, but it seems that Terminator Genisys has seriously let him down. Originally undecided as to whether to watch this, in the end, what pulled me in was the prospect of a clash between old (not obsolete) “Pops” versus the T-800 from the original movie.

If there is one golden rule in the torturous world of film criticism, then avoid movies that deliberately misspell any part of the title in some lameass ploy to sound cool. Sure enough, this misfire seems to be no exception…

TERMINATOR GENISYS

sarah-T800

“It was one of those: ‘Let’s give it a round of applause’ moments. I mean, Arnie said that line to me, in a helicopter… if that’s not career defining, I don’t know what is” – Emilia Clarke.

So, what good points can we take from this movie?

Emilia Clarke puts in a good, gutsy turn as a decidedly different 80’s girl who can balance her checkbook. There is such a charming subplot about how the “Guardian” came to protect the nine-year-old Sarah Connor lurking somewhere in that script; development of this angle would have added such sorely-needed emotional depth to proceedings, but – typical – we got no more than the briefest of hazy flashbacks.

What about this Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney)? Sent back to a 1984 none of us expected, then – before you can say “mimetic polyalloy” – he has to hurl back to the strange and disconcerting “future” of 2017! Jeez, poor boy. A tad too much tampering with the temporals for my liking. How much more of the space-time continuum can they screw up? 

It was intriguing to see J.K. Simmons involved in this; however, after an astonishing (well-deserved) Oscar-winning performance in Whiplash, he is wasted here, with nothing significant to contribute.

And as for John Connor (Jason Clarke), well, how they’ve handled him this time round is just… wrong. Didn’t like it at all. What can one say – what can one do – when the smartest aspect of the whole movie is having both Connors played by two Clarkes? 

Terminator Genisys is watchable – notably less painful than the last two; but it could – certainly should – have offered so much more. Towards the end, one dissatisfied viewer was seen marching for the Exit, presumably seeking to keep intact the timeline he knew and loved. Sarah Connor herself at one point summed up this whole fruitless exercise rather well: “I know it needs work…” 

Liquid-Metal-Terminator-Genisys

“They’ve reimagined it. They’ve upgraded it. It’s left me in a state of paralisys. It’s crushing every brain synapsys. This is a personal crisys and I may need analisys… Terminator Genisys is the antythisys of enjoyable” – Peter Bradshaw.

Hey, buddy, did you just see a real bright light?

Riding a wave of nostalgia has done wonders these past two months for other fondly treasured franchises such as Mad Max and Jurassic Park, but does it – should it – work for The Terminator? Reshooting the sequence in which the original T-800 arrives at Griffith Park Observatory in LA, was actually quite a nifty move, and the twist was kinda cool – yet if they’re going to digitally recreate 1984 Arnie, then it’s only fair that 1984 Bill Paxton should reappear as well.

The general consensus of reviews basically dismissed Genisys as “witless,” “artless,” thus a pointless exercise. A major factor in the success of those first two movies was the abundance of cool and quotable lines, but here – and you know how much Brad digs groovy quotes – there are no lines worthy of note. Also, there are a few attempts at humour, but they fail miserably. The whole package does look hastily and shoddily assembled, as if by machines (ha!) – the 600 series, most likely (we spotted them easy.)

…And James Cameron himself personally endorsed this? 

If you need me, you can find me drowning my sorrows down at Tech Noir. (You know it, it’s on Pico.)

epcjckx9aql6darbtjvv

Cheese!

Fear Of F/X: The Evolution Of CGI

Trapped inside an electronic arena, where love, and escape, do not compute!   

tron-landscape

“Nobody cares About making movies about people any more. All they care about is special effects” – Ellen Keith, F/X: Murder By Illusion (1986). 

The lone cowboy marched through the terrain, determined to track down the man who had shot him dead. The pixelated vision of Yul Brynner’s relentless android gunslinger, developed for Westworld (1973), introduced computerised effects to movies (not Tron (1982) as commonly misconceived). These pioneering images were the work of Information International Inc. or Triple-I. 

Little did anyone know that from these tentative beginnings, we would get the ubiquitous Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) of today.

Before we were bombarded by CGI, there was an exciting period of SF imbued with the more awe-inspiring and organic delights of animatronics, make-up, puppetry and blue (not green) screen wizardry. You got the feeling that real ingenious creativity was unfolding before your very startled eyes, and the fantastic results often inspired the how-the-hell-did-they-do-that?! response.

Nowadays, we know that it’s a team of technicians working on machines. Jeez, where’s the sense of wonder in that?! 

ACE IN THE HOLE: "The shaft is ray-shielded, so you'll have to use proton torpedoes"
ACE IN THE HOLE: “The shaft is ray-shielded, so you’ll have to use proton torpedoes”

“That’s impossible, even for a computer” – Wedge Antilles.  

The director of American Graffiti needed to create special effects for a new “space adventure” he’d been working on, tentatively titled: “The Star Wars.”  In May 1975, the effects team Industrial Light and Mgic (ILM) was born to create the flying spaceships, lasers and explosions in space and all the other awesome stuff. What they achieved in terms of sfx magic was nothing short of rermarkable. Most notable were the 3D wireframe graphics used during Jan Dodonna’s Death Star attack briefing. 

Obviously, this line of historical enquiry must reserve a special mention for Tron (1982) which, as the first feature-length computerised film, is commonly referred to as the one with the first computerised images ever. Apparently, a heaving 2 Mb of memory (that’s approximately 1/2000th of the capacity of your average PC, folks!) went into the making of this film about a computer programmer (Jeff Bridges) who gets sucked into the gaming world. Who can forget that pulsating light cycle race? Still looks pretty neat even now…

Th Last Starfighter (1984) relied on revolutionary new computer technology to produce its space battles. A childhood fave (to be covered more fully in a later Post), its story and entertainment value still stands up remarkably well, but regrettably, those vfx have dated horribly…

terminator2-morpht2j

“It’s all CG now, creating worlds in CG. It’s a completely different toolset. But the rules of storytelling are the same” – James Cameron. 

James Cameron’s The Abyss (1989) presented the first CG water effects, while Total Recall (1990) provided engaging viewing primarily for the varied experimentation that went into crafting a substantial number of original visual effects, but then two veritable game-changers were set to burst and crackle onto the big screen.

Terminator II; Judgment Day (1991) (Cameron again!) became one of the most enjoyable Summer blockbusters of all time. A new level of technology pioneered by ILM was unleashed. Quite unlike anything experienced before, the liquid metal T-1000 morphed, mimicked and mutated in highly original ways into the SF(X) Hall of Fame. Then in 1993, along came another colossal pioneer of sfx. Jurassic Park (1993) offered the first physically-textured CG animals, which just happened to be the species made extinct millions of years ago. Admittedly, the T-Rex and the raptors were very impressive… but how many technicians were required to painstakingly process those awesome scenes? Having marveled at stop-motion animation, you just cannot beat the one late great Ray Harryhausen…

Starship Troopers (1997) was a dull and forgettable experience, and not surprisingly a box office flop, but it carries the distinction of being the first motion picture to showcase an intricate CG military battle. Funnily enough, it would have won the Best Visual Effects Oscar that year if it wasn’t for Cameron’s Titanic…

Beyond Y2K, computerised viz accelerated at an exponential rate. There appears to be an abundance of CGI at the expense of a decent plot, characterisation or any other essential ingredient necessary for sufficient visual story-telling. CGI now holds scant joy for me – that’s why no CG movies from the last two decades feature in this historical study. Yet there are those who would argue that computer-generated effects are imperative because they have attained spectacularly sophisticated standards. Like some inhuman unstoppable force, CGI appears to be relentless, uncompromising, and looks like it will mercilessly consume all traditional f/x methods until the allure and awe of cinema are eradicated forever.

The beast is loose… 

OMG F/X: Fear and loathing in the CGI Factory
OMG F/X: Fear and loathing in the CGI Factory

“Even today, a lot of the CGI you see in movies is so clean and crisp that it just looks fake. It’s weird: the more advanced they get, the faker it looks” – Jim Lee. 

What do you think of CGI? 

comments

Is Neill Blomkamp The Right Choice To Make Alien 5?

Stop Worrying About These Pet Projects!

alien 5

“I can’t think of a better director. He’s a real fan. I think he’ll… take it in unexpected directions… It will certainly stand up to the others and probably break a lot of new ground as well” – Sigourney Weaver. 

It has been common knowledge for some time that Sigourney Weaver wants to reprise her most famous role: Ellen Ripley. This week, it was confirmed that Neill Blomkamp (whose latest movie: Chappie has just opened) will direct Alien 5, after some of his impressive concept art for such a movie project recently emerged. Following some encouraging buzz online, Fox execs were quick to give Blomkamp the green light… but really, is this wise? 

Let’s sift through the evidence: Blomkamp’s debut feature: District 9 (2009), was an intriguing anti-apartheid parable set in South Africa, and showed much promise. Yet when the less impressive Elysium received unfavourable reviews in 2013, it looked like the talent had collapsed. Now, instead of reversing the downward trend, Chappie – apparently an expanded remake of Blomkamp’s own 2003 short: Tetra Vaal – has garnered some very discouraging reviews.

On the strength of District 9, Blomkamp would have been good to go, but now, it looks like an ominous – almost regrettable decision. The latest edition of Time Magazine summed it up aptly: “The world needs good sci-fi movies. Unfortunately, Chappie isn’t one of them.” 

alien_5_hicks_by_djahal-d8cg797Aliens-1986-Sigourney-Weaver-Michael-Biehn-pic-101

“…We’re gonna need immediate evac. I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure” – Cpl. Dwayne Hicks.  

The last time we saw Corporal Dwayne Hicks he’d had his face sprayed with a xenomorph’s acid. This past week, it was confirmed that the actor who played him back in 1986: Michael Biehn, had been approached to possibly reprise that role. Nearly thirty years on, is Biehn ready for active duty once more? “Yes…” he nonchalantly replied. “Looks like it.” 

With this stunning news, we now have to erase Alien 3 (1992) and Alien Resurrection (1997) from memory; fine, some fans believe that both these underwhelming sequels deserve to be expunged from existence anyway. Which brings us back to Crappy. Sorry! Chappie…

It was a tough weekend, ruminating on whether to watch this new release. Just consider the paltry goods on offer: it splices elements of Short Circuit, Robocop and other goodness-knows how many ’80s robo-pics together into a disjointed mess; a supposedly endearing” robot which soon resorts to violence – any chance of a meaningful exposition on artificial intelligence and its ramifications literally blown away; narrative shortcomings aplenty; there appear to be no likeable characters anywhere because it is “too tonally conflicted to engage our sympathies.” 

Die Antwoord are probably the most disconcerting aspect of the whole package. Had never heard of them before; now wishing they had stayed beyond my sensors… And Hugh Jackman sports a mullet… 

Really!

Science fiction should not have to be as painful as this…. surely? Can count avoiding Jupiter Ascending as one of my finest accomplishments during February, but there was no warning about this other misfire lying in wait…

Is Chappie as bad as it looks? Please feel free to Comment. 

Chappie_THUMB-1415140242076sigourney-chappie

“You’ve been in my life so long, I can’t remember anything else” – Ellen Ripley.  

From Alien to Avatar, Sigourney Weaver has shown how to create bold and no-nonsense roles for women in SF. Can’t help thinking that she would have presented an infinitely more suitable casting choice than Jodie Foster in Elysium…

Last week, while publicising Chappie – in which she plays the CEO of a weapons corporation – this charming and versatile actress – recalled how her next project came about: “…You know it’s a pity we didn’t really finish the story. I said: ‘I should probably talk to Jim Cameron about that.’ And he [Blomkamp] said: ‘Don’t talk to Jim about that, talk to me about that.’ So we kept talking about it.”  

From the first day on the set of Chappie, Blomkamp enthused about his admiration for the first two Alien movies to Weaver; and then he “started sending these incredible paintings of this world and some very detailed story ideas…” 

Yes, but as we have seen, unfortunately, time and time again, how so many projects began with the most impressive pre-production designs only for the finished film to flounder so disappointingly. Weaver should tread cautiously; we don’t dispute that Blomkamp is a swell guy – it’s just that his grasp of SF seems to have diminished somewhat of late… 

On the possibility of working on an Alien 5 with Neill Blomkamp, Weaver remarked: “It would be cool… because I’d love to work with him again.” Very diplomatically, she continued: “…If it’s happening, I’d be curious to know how I would not be in it, but I imagine the alien is in it, and they’ll probably make his deal first, and give him more money.” 

Alen 5: Do you think Sigourney's in safe hands?
Alen 5: Do you think Sigourney’s in safe hands?

Xenomorph! It’s Got A Great Defense Mechanism – You Don’t Dare Kill It…

In space no one can hear you scream.

alien 1979

“The biggest problem, of course, was: What’s the alien going to look like? I mean, you could screw around… trying to come up with something that wasn’t all nobs and bobs… When I went into Fox for the first meeting, they had a book there by H.R. Giger: The Necronomicon. I took one look at it, and I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life” – Sir Ridley Scott.  

With Halloween just weeks away, it would be cool at this point to just break away from the usual SF themes explored in this Blog, and delve into something darker and more sinister. The cold and cruel depths of outer space seems like an all-too-obvious choice in which to set horror movies. A quick glance over the last 35 years since Ridley Scott’s seminal sci-fi shocker: Alien reveals that the challenge was met with some gruesome, sleazy and downright odd specimens!

It doesn’t matter that E.T. (1982) – with its endearing portrayal of a harmless but lost, dopey-looking alien – overtook Star Wars to become the Highest Grossing Movie Of All Time. No, audiences clamoured for beasties with a bit more bite, preferably with acid for blood…

A whole spate of low-budget video nasties offered a range of horrendous xenos (of the cheap and nasty kind!) and delivered a standard mix of gore, dimly-lit scenes and a copious supply of invariably loud and incredibly dumb humans whose chances of survival were just as miniscule as their “acting” abilities.

Let’s rummage through the bargain bin of bug-eyed beasties and see what this SF/Horror hybrid really looks like! So, anyone fancy a bug hunt?

xenomorphit

“Giger seems to be painting aliens, but the closer you look, the more you realise he’s painting twisted versions of us” – Clive Barker.

The term: “xenomorph” was first used in connection with the weird cyclopean entities of It Came From Outer Space (1953). With their spacecraft having crashlanded in the Arizona desert, these aliens could take on human form, but in the rare glimpses of their natural forms, they were truly terrifying.

Possibly the grandaddy of sci fi-horror beasties would have to be It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958). Having gone to the trouble of creating a genuinely scary-looking “Terror,” the creature still hid in the shadows for maximum shock effect (not to mention to make the most of a miniscule budget!) It! holds a special place in this Post, being widely regarded as the primary influence behind Ridley Scott’s vision.

Alien (1979) is justifiably considered to be the pinnacle of SF/Horror; not only does it capture the claustrophobia and debilitating loneliness on a space freighter in an unknown sector of the galaxy, but it also can be treated best as a traditional haunted house story set in deep space. The biomechanoid design of the xenomorph by the late great H.R. Giger has stood the test of time as one of cinema’s greatest creations. The Swiss surrealist artist derived his unique style from his own nightmares; how fitting then that he has gone on to disrupt the sleep of many others!

And ya know what? Harrison “I’m Han Solo/Indiana Jones, get over it” Ford turned down the opp to play Captain Dallas(!), while Peter “walking carpet” Mayhew lost the chance to don that infamous xenomorph suit.

“I find that hard to believe,” said Ripley incredulously.

mutantcreaturetrash

“You still don’t understand what you’re dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. It’s structural perfection is matched only by its hostility” – Ash.

During the mid-80s, there were hordes of downright despicable carnivorous aliens on bloodthirsty rampages in SF movies, at a time when slasher flicks were dominating the shelves labelled: “Horror” in every video rental shop. Despite this serious lack of variety, this blogger nevertheless confesses to have rented out (almost thirty years ago, of course) some of these cheap and (below) average Alien clones on too many weekends to mention. Among them, the likes of Star Crystal and Titan Find would get screwed up played in my long-suffering VCR.

Actually, these rip-offs were just as ridiculous as they were unlimited. To illustrate this extreme situation, take for example: Galaxy of Terror (1981) (aka Planet of Horrors) produced by Roger Corman, and then Forbidden World (1982) (aka Mutant) produced by (yes!) Roger Corman – very confusing, especially considering how their equally shoddy production values made them virtually undistinguishable!  

Interestingly enough, considering the tacky nature of the special effects, more or less the same team responsible for Titan Find (1985) would reunite shortly after for another marauding monster vs. hapless humans thrill-fest. Only this time the effects were supervised by an FX Master: Stan Winston, and a certain James Cameron was onboard to direct the Mother of all Bug Hunts: Aliens (1986).  

It’s ironic to think that the only true rival to Alien came in the form of its own sequel! (There is too much to say about this veritable Classic, so will deliver a Post devoted to this some day soon).

Has it really come to this conclusion? That in order to make a really enjoyable SF/Horror monster movie you had to have either Scott or Cameron’s direction?! Or Giger’s superior design?! Admittedly, back in the day, there was a certain charm… then, but now that brand of garish and outrageous action/horror cannot exist outside the 80s, and the enthusiasm once readily mustered for them can never be replicated…

Well, it’s getting late, and it’s a heckuva long way back to Earth, so…

Back to the old freezerinos.

blog poster

Sweet dreams!

T-30

 

Posted: 26 March 2014.

One of the most iconic posters... EVER
One of the most iconic posters… EVER

“The Terminator is a blazing, cinematic comic book, full of virtuoso moviemaking…” – Variety (Dec 31, 1983).

It’s hard to believe, but that sci-fi classic: The Terminator is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year! In October 1984, this low-budget action thriller became an instant cult fave, secured the star-status of Arnold Schwarzenegger and launched the career of James Cameron.

Its plot is well-known universally, so there really is no need for Bradscribe to mull over it for the umpteenth time, but as a keen scriptwriter, it would be interesting to find out how this inherently absurd premise got pitched in the first place!

Let’s be honest, the plot is so blatantly absurd, but the energy and enthusiasm with which this package is delivered is instantly compelling, no matter how many times you watch.

The script offers such a ripe collection of great, memorable dialogue; it really has been a struggle to refrain from citing the numerous lines that could have been quoted here!

"It absolutely will not stop...!"
“It absolutely will not stop…!”

“As for Schwarzenegger… with his choppy hair, cryptic shades and state-of-the-’80s leather ensemble, he looks like the Incredible Hulk gone punk” – Richard Corliss.

What more can be said about this classic movie, 30 years later? For one thing, it’s still relevant. It’s influence can be seen in dozens of copycat, albeit inferior, vehicles. Looking at it retrospectively, the plot is rather ingenious in its sheer simplicity.

The three principal characters were memorably portrayed by the respective actors, so it is alarming to learn that none of them were first choice. Is it possible to imagine Lance Henriksen (who would play ill-fated Detective Vukovich), Mel Gibson or (heaven forbid!) OJ Simpson as the killer cyborg? Regarding the latter, as Cameron observed at the time, it would be just wrong to have: “such a nice guy playing the part of a ruthless killer.” Arnie made it his own, so anyone else as this distinctive figure would be unthinkable.

Linda Hamilton made Sarah Connor a career-defining role, but the list of would-be contenders for the part during its preliminary stages reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood in the early ’80s!

Considering what a a cold and merciless machine this cyborg really is, it was a nice ironic touch that on the stolen police car driven so recklessly, the door is adorned with the motto:“to care and to protect” By the time the car had crashed, this writer was surprised to notice that all of a sudden the door read: “Dedicated to serve.”

"God, you can go crazy thinking about all this..."
“God, you can go crazy thinking about all this…”

“I’m not stupid, you know. They cannot make things like that yet” – Sarah Connor.

The Terminator has had three sequels, but none could come close to recreating its raw and original power. Now, it is difficult to imagine the James Cameron being responsible for a low-budget movie, but everyone has to start somewhere. It is astounding to think that when Sarah Connor gets jilted via answering machine, it is Mr Cameron himself providing the voice we hear. 

TechNoir – the nightclub in which Kyle Reese finds Sarah Connor and confronts the T-800 – has its own story to tell. This site on Pico Boulevard had recently become vacant, so the set designers moved in. Apparently, during filming, people were convinced that it was a real club and had to be turned away. Amazing how a venue playing such dull pop music could be so heaving.

It should be said that the animated scenes of the T-800 exoskeleton were well done for its time, despite the limitations of budget and technology available then. Perhaps it is this aspect which has causedsome people out there to believe that the time is right for it to be remade… sheesh! As those of you few intrepid souls who have been following this Blog will know, Bradscribe despises remakes with every fibre of his being.

To conclude, this film’s reputation will not waver. It remains a bravura piece of movie-making, deservedly polling high in Best Film polls. For once, the trailer got it right: “An adventure unlike anything you’ve seen before!”  

So unique, so distinctive, it is hard to envisage seeing its like again…