Monday, October 20, 2014


“I’ll be back.”
This month marks the 30th anniversary of James Cameron’s THE TERMINATOR.

A hybrid of the science-fiction, horror, and action-film genres, THE TERMINATOR dealt with a cyborg assassin sent back in time from the year 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor, who was destined to give birth to a future resistance leader. The time-travel element was ironic, because THE TERMINATOR and its creator were both ahead of its time.

The idea for THE TERMINATOR came to director James Cameron not long after he wrapped production on his debut film, PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING. It came to him in a dream, in which he saw a metal torso dragging itself from an explosion. Cameron immediately wrote a story around the vision, in which two Terminators were sent to the past. Cameron’s agent hated the idea and told him to work on something else. Cameron, confident in his material, fired his agent.
The project pressed on, and Cameron’s vivid imagination already began to leap past the limits of movie technology in the early 1980’s. His initial outline of the script had one of the two cyborgs composed of liquid metal, but the visual effects at the time were not up to the task, so THE TERMNATOR went to just one. It would take nearly seven years for the industry to catch up with Cameron’s imagination, as the liquid-metal cyborg would finally see the light of day in the sequel in 1991. The metal-torso vision would eventually play into the film’s climax.

During the casting process, the studio had suggested former football player O.J. Simpson for the role of the Terminator, while Austrian import/bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger was considered for the role of Kyle Reese, the human soldier sent back in time to protect Sarah. Once Arnie took the role of the Terminator, the role of Reese went to Michael Biehn. The central role of Sarah went to Linda Hamilton, who just wrapped up filming Stephen King’s CHILDREN OF THE CORN. The job of providing visual effects went to effects expert Stan Winston.
The results were spectacular. THE TERMINATOR was No. 1 at the box office for two weeks upon release and gained critical acclaim; acclaim that would only grow as the movie got older. The American Film Institute ranks the film on many of its lists, including Greatest Movie Quotes and 100 Heroes and Villains. Total Film named it the 72nd best film ever made, and Empire Magazine selected it in its 500 Greatest Movies of All Time list. In 2008, the film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States Film Registry. THE TERMINATOR would live on in three movie sequels and a television series, and its success would empower James Cameron to pursue his bigger dreams in film.

As a wee-lad in 1984, this Blogger wasn’t really going to the theatre to see R-rated movies. The earliest memories of the film came from a good Uncle who hated the film to pieces. It wouldn’t be until several years later when THE TERMINATOR would come to HBO when this Blogger could experience it for himself, and the mind was instantly blown. Between the time-travel concept (which a person could go crazy trying to make sense of), the eye-popping visuals and the absolute feeling of dread and menace when Arnie/cyborg walked in the room…THE TERMINATOR was a perfect watch. It was a great balance of sci-fi (time travel), action (gunfights), horror (mysterious stalker), and even a little bit of a love story (Kyle and Sarah). But more importantly, THE TERMINATOR moved the industry forward. Cameron, whose visions almost always move too fast for the rest of the world, would capitalize on new technologies that THE TERMINATOR sparked…and would then change our movie futures.

“The future is not set…”



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