Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Terminator

Being an 80s kid and 90s teenager, The Terminator (1984) has been on rotation so many times. The quintessential 1984 sci-fi killer cyborg movie, its only rival back in my day was RoboCop (1987).

*****

Come with me if you want to live. 





I guess every Terminator fan has that key scene emblematic to their natural experience which just seems to resonate the most. For me it is the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) emerging with his gun, its laser scope pointed right at Sarah Connor, in a club within the smoky, trash-street urban LA of '84 called Tech Noir. Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), a soldier from a distant future where there was devastating nuclear war and a rise of machine intelligence that saw human life as fit for extermination, was waiting for the cyborg to show itself in the steely-eyed, unemotional form of muscled bodybuilder Schwarzenegger. Taking clothes from a punk who no longer resisted after seeing his boozing bros annihilated in quick order, the Terminator now no longer naked can walk among the human LA denizens undetected. So in Tech Noir, Kyle reads it and intercepts the cyborg before it can kill the mother of the human leader of a resistance that defeats the Terminator. A time machine sends a cyborg and Kyle to the past, 1984, and eventually there's the expected showdown between the two with the life of Sarah (Linda Hamilton) at stake.




Of course there are a number of key scenes gleaned from this masterpiece that might come to mind. The police station massacre (Paul Winfield and Lance Henricksen are cops who interrogate Kyle and try miserably to keep Sarah safe, with their entire force, including them, executed in one fail swoop), Kyle evading the police when he first found himself in 1984 LA (taking pants from a homeless alleycat and securing a pair of Nikes from a department store), Arnold naked as a jaybird as he approaches the punks (two of them played by Bill Paxton with a colorful Mohawk and a barely recognizably insignificant Brian Thompson, known for menacing heavies, quite easily dispatched in his minor part opposite Schwarzenegger) looking for clothes, Kyle recollecting the harsh environs of a dark, unforgiving world as tanks crush skeletons and skulls of the many dead under them, those who survive (for however long) starving and filthy, and Terminators disguised as human infiltrating their hiding areas, & the repairs Arnold must make to his arm and the look-see of his damaged eye as director Cameron wows with help from the late, great special effects wizard Stan Winston.





A hurdle one might consider a bit difficult is the development of a hurried romance over the course of maybe twenty four hours or so between protector Kyle and protectee, Sarah. Their lovemaking produces a child later targeted for  termination. So can such a union form so quickly? Is it doomed due to the Terminator coming after them? As far as the limited time together and immediacy of eventual intimacy, I chalk that up to what they experience together, the chemistry shared between them, his bravery and openness to her, the way peril and terror can bring two people from totally different worlds (space and time) together, and their mutual attraction and respect developed over this short span.

I think "The Terminator" gets it right if just because it's lean, mean, and keeps the time traveling angle as simple as possible (not true of later sequels/prequels) without a bloated running time and convoluted storyline to break the intellectual bank trying not to logically implode while contemplating the uprising of miriad plot complications. You have a human warrior who has seen every awful thing imaginable sent backward to halt the efforts of Skynet Rebel Computer Network Rogue T-800 Terminator and a 19 year old waitress key to the future of the human race's existence. Anyone in 1984 who gets in the way, inadvertently or purposely, is in deep shit.





My first recollection of seeing this was on network television. I seem to recall the "eye" scene being cut but knew this was a film that would be ideal entertainment pivotal in its endurance as a favorite. I still think the stop motion work by Winston's team is impressive to this day. It might be regarded as inferior to the computer animation so prevalent today, but the movement of the substitute Arnold face with the eyeball gone and red light peering out in a straight line remains a breakthrough to be admired even if raw and rough around the edges. The metal, skeletal cybernetic "hunter-killer" absent the "human disguise" remains an iconic character that I'm fond of. It is creepy and menacing, an extension of the icy, soulless Arnold shell that covers in order to assimilate with the people.

I'll be back.

Arnold came into my radar when I was over my cousin's house one late Friday evening. On HBO was "Conan, the Destroyer" (1984), the childish, sanitized PG sequel to the adult, violent, and quite R-rated Barbarian from two years prior. As a kid I hadn't seen the 1982 Conan, so this was the film I linked Arnold to. I had so much to learn! Grace Jones and Wilt Chamberlain (every bit the stilt) pale in comparison to James Earl Jones. And Sandahl Bergman is sorely missed. All that said, it has the adventurous sensibilities that charmed the kid I once was, with the likes of Mako and Tracey Walter offering amusing clowns as a counterpoint to Arnold's serious performance. It caused me to give him attention, later seeing The Terminator and Commando which secured my fandom. With all his faults, and I certainly have mine, he is still one of the action heroes of my youth...it accounts for something.






After the Conan movies, it was quite a big deal he would lose himself into the role of a killing machine shooting unarmed women who answer the doorbell/knock or are rocking to their Walkman cassette while getting some grub from her refrigerator. His face turns and blank stares are deliberate and robotic, Arnold gets it down and he's got the determined walk as well. He needs to convince us that underneath the skin is a cybernetic machine...he succeeds!

Michael Biehn, all that controlled pain and drive to keep Hamilton safe, left such a mark with me. I remember really thinking he was just the coolest in Aliens, bringing a courage and doggedness to see his mission succeed no matter the cost to him personally to Kyle. There was an anguish buried deep I found vital to the role...Biehn also posits a willingness to show a vulnerability to only Sarah. It just seemed easy for me to respond to him than other incarnations. He was full of energy and youth then, not undermined by life's problems which might have cost him a career as a lead actor.






Hamilton, for her part, was so fresh faced and young, equipped with a marvelous character who was not quite prepared for what lied ahead but far stronger than she might have imagined. Losing her roommate/friend to the Terminator, being pursued and endangered, learning how to make plastic explosives, using her wits to put a stop to the Terminator, and ultimately realizing her child will need a parental guidance in order to know just how to combat and lead when the world goes all to hell, Sarah had to grow up quickly. She would have to transition from a cute and bubbly sweetheart in order to just make it out of the movie alive.



What a history this film has. The serendipity of how the casting and production came about and how it's legacy has lasted because of all the talent involved (including Brad Fiedel's music) is the stuff of movie lore. It most specifically speaks to Cameron's passion for seeing as close to the desired result as possible.



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The Girlfriend Experience- Boundaries

Before I sod off, I have had this on paper for a week! Been either forgetting about it or just avoiding it. Last Thursday night I watche...

Ahs

Ahs

Edc

Edc
Blog's Dead all Over
"... perhaps we invent artificial terrors to cope with the real ones."

--host, Donald Pleasence, Terror in the Aisles (1984)

Sbut

Sbut
Snip. Snip

Hal

Hal
There are many things under the sun
---Dr. Werdegast, The Black Cat

hal1

It's Halloween, everyone's entitled to one good scare.

Jtm 2

Jtm 2

Rave

Rave

Mrub

Mrub

Gb

"Back off, man. I'm a scientist."

--Ghostbusters

sm6

sm6

Rv1

Rv1

Nas

Nas

nos3

nos3

Lok

Lok

Po

Po

Ra6

Ra6

dawn

dawn

Dracula's Daughter ('36)

Countess Zaleska: Be thou exorcised oh Dracula, and thy body long undead find destruction throughout eternity in the name of thy dark unholy Master.

mh2

mh2

z2

z2

Hiii

Hiii

Fred

Fred

Ghspo

Ghspo
Movie, so-so, but poster, cool

Enl

Enl

nos4

nos4

gm

To a new world of gods and monsters!


No 2

No 2
Jason Lives

clothes line

clothes line

Ahorr

Ahorr

Cbi1

Cbi1
Case of the bloody iris

Wsha

Wsha

Mouth3

Mouth3
In the Mouth of Madness

Fdfn2

Fdfn2
Freddy's Dead '91

Vyr

Vyr
Vampyres 1974

Sh fr

Sh fr
Friday the 13th Part 2

Vlov

Vlov
Carmilla's kiss

f133

f133

Edpos

Edpos

Ttf2

Ttf2

Jm2

Jm2
El Hombre Lobo

Psycho '60

It's sad, when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son. But I couldn't allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They'll put him away now, as I should have years ago. He was always bad, and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man... as if I could do anything but just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. They know I can't move a finger, and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do... suspect me. They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching... they'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly..."

Kife

Kife
Knife is calling, Psycho 2

Meg

Meg
Meg Tilly, Psycho II

ring 2

ring 2
the ring 2002, "the tape"

poster

poster

exor1

exor1
"the visitor" The Exorcist (1973)

Conj

Conj

Tz1

Tz1
"Masks", Twilight Zone

In the kitchen, The Shape

In the kitchen, The Shape
In the kitchen, The Shape

exc4

exc4

Ps56

Ps56

Hun

Hun
Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932

Ps89

Ps89

Cof

Cof
Victor and Paul, with their Monster

pcushig

pcushig

His

His

Efny

Efny

sus

sus
I'm going to grind you down to blood and screams.

--Innocent Blood 1992
Rest in Peace, Robert Loggia

wb

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

WZ

WZ

Edfen

Edfen
"Do not enter the city...It belongs to the dead now."

h1

h1
Look behind you!

Bs

Bs
"There is no terror in the bang, only the anticipation of it."
--Alfred Hitchcock

linnea

linnea

Amer

Amer
Taste of metal

The h gang

The h gang

Nlc

Nlc
Old Skool Nostalgia

Hp

Hp

Smoke

Smoke
Got a smoke?

Strek

Strek
Live long and prosper

Hill

Hill

Castle

Castle

SRW

"This seems to be the place where the plot begins to thicken..."
--Spooks Run Wild (1941)

Frere and dummy

Frere and dummy

Mlove

Mlove

Alone/dark

"There are no crazy people, doctor. We're all just on vacation."

--Alone in the Dark (1982)

Lips

Lips

Fhz

Fhz

Ph

Ph

Vestron

Vestron
Vintage VHS

sm 3

sm 3

Monique parent

Monique parent
Erotique in Review

Were5

Were5

f13

f13
November 2015

Bmate

Bmate

--Wes Craven

I think there is something about the American dream, the sort of Disneyesque dream, if you will, of the beautifully trimmed front lawn, the white picket fence, mom and dad and their happy children, God-fearing and doing good whenever they can, and the flip side of it, the kind of anger and the sense of outrage that comes from discovering that that's not the truth of the matter, that gives American horror films, in some ways, kind of an additional rage.

Ms45 w

Ms45 w

Churcvh

Churcvh
The Church 1989

Ww

Ww
The Whip and the Body 1963

Lsho

"Now, no novacaine....it dulls the senses"

--Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Christopher Lee

Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.

Vampyros lesbos

You are one of us now. The Queen of the Night will bear you up on her black wings

The Unknown 1927

No....not sick. But I have lost some flesh.

Alonzo, the Armless.

Ckvh

Ckvh

Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)

Glen: We'd like to speak to the Townsends, please.

The Butler: They are not available till after sunset.

Bw5

Bw5

Jill

Jill

Mad Love 1935

Doctor Gogol: Did you ever hear of Galatea?

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: Gala - who? Not wanting a statue of him, are you?

Doctor Gogol: I don't want a statue of Galatea. You see, she was a statue herself. Pygmalion formed her. Out of marble, not wax. And then she came to life in his arms.

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [calling to his assistant] Start the motor, Henry. There's queer people on the streets of Montmartre at this time of night.

Doctor Gogol: [handing him his card] Here, a hundred francs if you deliver the statue to my house.

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [reading card] It's a go, Dr. Go... gol. First thing in the morning.