The Terminator


Cameron allegedly came up with the idea "all in one wallop" whilst lying sick in a hotel room in Rome during the completion of his first movie, Pirahna II. Unfortunately he probably unwittingly came up with a story that used elements of other people's work. Many sci-fi writers claimed that their work had been used, but Harlan Ellison successfully settled with the studio over similarities to two or more of his works, notably a short story entitled "Demon with a glass hand" and an episiode of "The Outer Limits" called "Soldier".

More Trivia from The Terminator
Very occasionally, a 'B' movie comes along which massively exceeds all expectations and ends up eclipsing all the 'A' movies of that time.

Even less often, that 'B' movie shakes up the whole genre and maybe even the whole film world. Forever changing people's expectations.

Only a few movies ever released have done all this and gone on to have a seismic effect on the culture and movies of the day and still be very anticipated re-release fifteen or twenty years later.

One of those movies is Star Wars. Another, surely, is The Terminator.

Both these movies shared a 'B' movie budget. Both were made by novice directors who were making only their second studio picture. Neither movies were expected to last more than a few weeks at the box office before quietly slipping into oblivion.

In the case of The Terminator, the budget truly was miniscule. Many more accomplished directors may have been forgiven for resigning themselves to 'B' movie results on the basis of the budgetary constraints alone... But The Terminator wasn't made by just any director. It was made by James Cameron, a man who would become almost infamous for his endless persuit of perfection --a persuit no less relentless than his cyborg assassin from the future in the film that made his reputation. Cameron would gain this repuation through the production of films like "Aliens", "The Abyss" and, of course, Titanic.

In my opinion, the common element that binds all 'cult' movies together is the absolute care and dedication shown by the filmmakers and cast during production -- regardless of the budget.

The proportion of low budget movies achieving such cult status seems to have fallen markedly since the 80's. Some movies made since have seemed to be becoming cult classics. Movies like "The Blair Witch Project" have appeared to be carrying on the tradition, only to disappear almost entirely six months or a year later in a "puff of hype".

Not so with The Terminator, for this time he really is "Back". Back with a vengance -in limited release at the theaters and on a 2 disc DVD with a stunning new film transfer, remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and a whole DVD full of extras.

In a curious twist of fate, it was the Europeans who got the DVD version first, with anything up to a years delay before it was seen in the USA. Conversely, the "Ultimate Edition" DVD of the sequel was available in the USA for about aa year, whilst Europeans had to wait their turn.

This was not necessarily a bad things for Europeans, as in the absence of the high budget sequel, more people will probably get to enjoy the original. And enjoy they will, for despite what your memory may tell you about the 1984 classic, it more than holds its own compared with it's hugely expensive sequel.

It's also a much darker, more brooding film. The absense of 'knowing' in the one-liners seems to give the film a 'sincerity' that is absent from the sequel.

Cameron works wonders in creating the tension in this dark world too (he insisted that much of the film was shot at night).

The effects, which in recollection may have seemed hugely inferior to the sequel, in reality are still very, very impressive. Rarely does the film reveal it's budgetary disadvantage. With it's new, crystal clear picture and stomping 5.1 sound it could have been made yesterday.

The truth is, of course, that The Terminator only really achieved it's huge success when released on video, so most of us will only remember seeing the film through the 'fog' of a grainy VHS or Beta copy. When seen in the proper way, the reason for it's hugely deserved cult status becomes all too clear...


One of the true greats in the all time sci-fi hall of fame. The original, far from being outclassed by its $100 million+ sequel, shows itself to be a darker, more sinister stablemate, easily holding it's own without ILM's liquid metal effects.

If you haven't seen it in a while.. SEE IT!. If you don't own it BUY IT!. Whatever you do, DON'T MISS this lovingly restored and enhanced classic.

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Unstoppable endlessly quoteable movie that smashed the 'robot movie' genre forever...

Weaknesses? The Terminator has no weaknesses... or if it does, do you wanna tell it? ;)

Our rating: 9.6 out of 10

Review Written by Nick:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Nick
The Terminator