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The Terminator (1984)

by on 2013/08/30

The_Terminator_1984“Just look at it this way, in a 100 years who is going to care?”

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The Terminator has been written about so many times that I don’t really know what I can add to the petabytes of collected global discourse (including a previous review on this site).

So I bring you my critical addition (coughcop-outcough) to pop culture, the Ten Things I Love About The Terminator. By me.

1. The glorious perms. Towering. Frothing over. Billowing like cumulus clouds from heaven. The sheer enormity of Bess Motta’s hair as Sarah Connor’s headphone wearing-roomate Ginger is a one of the great wonders of the film world. “Better than mortal man deserves.” Indeed.

2. Just how crappy a waitressing job Linda Hamilton has as long-suffering Sarah Connor. I was a waitress for four hours once, and I thought that was bad. Customers yelling, she spills a drink on someone, while a brat fills her apron pocket with ice cream. Purest work hell. I’d be almost grateful for an apocalypse after a diner job in a frilly pink uniform.

3. Bill Paxton (Near Dark) as a punk with a black tire track mark over one eye and stiff blue “liberty spikes” all over his head. Paxton only manages a few expletives and a very, very aborted attempt to stab the naked, time-travelling Arnold Schwarzenegger (End of Days), then he’s gone again. His screen time is little but he’s great. 

4. The look on the “Wrong Sarah Connor’s” face (that’s how she’s billed in the credits) played by the great Marianne Muellerleile (Thank You For Smoking). She plays a house wife who is in the wrong place, wrong time with the wrong name. She’s got a look on her face that combines mild annoyance “damn door-to-door salesman” then a soupçon of terror, then just a little shocked outrage right there at the end. Then Arnie shoots her in her expressive face. Then a bunch more times.

5. The way the great Michael Biehn says “Year …the year!” I think Hacker Renders and I say it like that, exactly like that, at least once every fortnight. I realize I love Michael Biehn (Insatiable) quite a lot, I have a lot of respect for him as an actor. He’s great. Also he says “year” more entertainingly than anyone, ever.

6. Lance Henriksen (Aliens) as Detective Vukovich turns in another terrific performance, but the best part is his horrifying ‘cop who has seen it all’ stories. Particularly about one about the guy who has um, amorous relations with his dog sets it er, alight. I thought about including the whole lively anecdote. I can’t. (I wonder if they were ad libbed…)

7. The look on Paul Winfield’s face as Lt. Traxler when Arnie the Terminator storms the police station. This is moments after he tells Sarah she’s safe, “there’s 30 cops out there.” Winfield manages a look that is both terrified and sheepish.

8. Linda Hamilton’s transformation from fluffy-haired waitress (and I do mean fluffy-haired as it is also magnificently huge) to stone-cold warrior. Deeply enjoyable. As I said in my Terminator 2 review, if I were a religious sort, I would pray to the patron saint of Sarah Connor in any disaster situation.

9. Arnold can be quite scary when he wants to be but he’s scary beyond all reason without eyebrows. Scary. Beyond. All. Reason.

10. I am a sucker for a hide and seek, chase-based horror film. This film is that wrapped up in a satisfying science fiction time travelling story. Although as Hacker Renders knows, I am normally opposed to naked time travelling in all its forms. Damned opposed.

Ta dah, I am done. So that’s my contribution to the popular discourse on The Terminator.

Perms, Biehn and story time with Lance Henriksen.

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107 minutes

Rated R for particularly when Arnie digs out his own cornea

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