THE TERMINATOR (1984)
One of my favorite all time films. A wonderful example of how talent and imagination can accomplish a lot on a small budget. A tenacious little action film with a cool sci-fi premise. Simple and very effective. This is the film that really pushed Arnold into the spotlight and set director James Cameron on his course.
Terminator tells the story of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), a waitress trying to make ends meet but, unknown to her, she has been targeted for death by a machine sent back from the future to eliminate her. The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has been sent by a computer network in 2029 to kill Sarah as she will be mother to John Connor, the man who will rebel against these self aware computers, who have taken over the world of the future, and end their reign before they eliminate mankind. The rebels send back a soldier, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) to protect her and Sarah becomes a fugitive on the run as soldier and cyborg battle for the fate of the future in 1984 Los Angeles.
James Cameron’s lean mean fighting machine of a movie is as relentless as the Terminator itself. He crafts a fast paced action classic that never stops moving yet, still tells a good story and builds the characters so we are emotionally invested in them. He gets great work from his cast and brilliant work from his SPFX people who provide some really effective glimpses of an apocalyptic future and the carnage by our title villain in the present. From models to make-up, the film has top notch work on a low budget. The action is simple yet very intense with numerous chases and shoot-outs as the cybernetic assassin will stop at nothing and go through anyone to eliminate his prey.
A bonafide classic that set many careers in motion and started a film franchise that is still going decades later. If I had to make a top ten list of favorite movies, The Terminator would be on it. Also starring Lance Henrikson and Paul Winfield as two cops caught in the middle of the conflict and the first acting role for a young Bill Paxton as a punk who unfortunately crosses the Terminator’s path.
MONSTERZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA: Amusing to know that Arnold was originally pursued to play the hero, Kyle Reese, but convinced Cameron to let him play the title villain instead. Furthermore, OJ Simpson was being considered for the role of The Terminator, but director Cameron felt, ironically, that no one would believe a nice guy like OJ as a cold blooded killer. Co-star Lance Henrikson was also considered in early stages when Cameron wanted a Terminator who could blend into a crowd, but Arnold took over the role and the rest is cinema history.
A classic 4 Terminator’s!
THE HIDDEN (1987)
Another of my favorite 80s guilty pleasures, The Hidden is basically The Thing, Lethal Weapon and The Terminator all rolled into one, as a body stealing extraterrestrial criminal is pursued on earth by an alien lawman and an earth cop with most of L.A. caught in the crossfire. Michael Nouri exudes tough guy charm as hard-nose cop Tom Beck who is teamed on a bizarre crime spree case with strange federal agent Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan). Soon Beck finds that there may be something unearthly going on and his “partner” may not be what he seems either.
Hidden is a fun sci-fi action thriller that is well directed and furiously paced by Jack Shoulder. Shoulder keeps Jim Kouf’s clever script moving fast and keeps the audience’s attention with plenty of blood, bullets and chase scenes. But Shoulder doesn’t move things too quickly that we don’t get to know our lead characters and a little about what makes them tick. While we rarely see the alien creature, the FX depicting it are good as is the carnage it leaves behind. The action scenes and stunt work are all top notch as well, for such a modest production and there is plenty of action to be had.
The cast are all good in their roles including supporting players Clu Gulager, Ed O’Ross and Richard Brooks as Beck’s fellow officers. Leads Nouri and MacLachlan make a good team and work well off each other and it’s fun to watch Nouri’s Beck try to figure out his weird Fed partner then start to warm up to him even after finding out he’s not from around here.
The Hidden is a mash-up of genres and movies that would have made Roger Corman proud had it been one of his productions and it does play much like one of Corman’s flicks. The film still holds up today as a fun Terminator style action flick and the added 80s nostalgia doesn’t hurt it either. Definitely a film to be enjoyed with a few beers and a few friends.
3 and 1/2 homicidal hookers