Tag Archives: The Terminator

I Have A Strange Feeling Of Déjà Vu

Have you ever watched a film and thought you’d seen it before even though it’s your first time seeing it?

Yeah its a strange question for sure, but I have just had that feeling. I only recently watched Ready Player One and all through the film, something was niggling away at the back of my head. The overload of 80s nostalgia and video game references were not enough to distract me from the fact the overall plot was similar to another film. A film where five kids enter a world of wonder and amusement, a world that co-exists along with the real world…”a world of pure imagination” one could say.

Ready Player One.jpg

So quick synopsis for Ready Player One. A poor and underprivileged kid enters a contest to out-right win an entire multi-million dollar company. Along the way he meets four other kids all wanting the same prize. The five meet in a world called The Oasis, a world like no other crafted by an eccentric individual who is a genius video game programmer that creates tests for those who enter. Solve/survive the tests and inherit the whole company.

Does any of this sound familiar? What if instead of a computer generated world it was a chocolate factory and instead the eccentric individual being a computer genius he was a confectionery one? Well you’d have Charlie/Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Now I’m not saying the are the exact same film…but they are strikingly similar in various ways. Both films feature a poverty stricken main character, both are about escapism, both have an isolated and eccentric genius behind the company, both films revolve around testing the protagonist for them to claim their prize and so on.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

You know what, I have more too…

The Lego Movie

This film was much more fun that I thought it would be. A kids film adults can enjoy just as much if not more so.

The LEGO Movie

The plot is about a loner main character who meets a mysterious girl dressed in black. This girl introduces our hero to all sorts of surprising secrets including a whole other world our hero is not fully aware of. He gets questioned by the authorities, but the hero is rescued by the girl in black and he is then introduced to a male character who yaks on about some kind of a prophecy. As it turns out, the hero character is destined to be “The One” from the prophecy. The obligatory training begins to ready the chosen one for his unavoidable destiny. During an action scene where it turns out the hero has been tracked, the authorities turn up and take hostages. The hero comes up with a plan to save the hostages that are held in a skyscraper. The hostages are being tortured via some kind of brain thing to extract information from them. Near the end, the hero ‘dies’ only he’s not really dead and comes back stronger than before and takes on the bad guys to win fulling the prophecy after which the hero and girl in black fall in love.

The MAtrix

Cracking flick, but remove the kid friendly angle and aim it toward a more adult audience and well, you have The Matrix. Yes, The Lego Movie is a more kid friendly take on The Matrix.

The Terminator

One of the finest Sci-Fi films ever made. The right blend of action, thriller and even horror…yes horror.

The Terminator

This film tells the tale of an unaware female being stalked by a killer who is not all he appears to be. But before we get to that, the killer steals someone’s clothing before stealing a car and heading into town to find his victim. The killer stops off at a store to stock up on weapons. The female lead is helped along the way by a male character who is mainly there for exposition while wearing a trench-coat. Our female lead has a friend who suggests the lead needs to live a little and let her hair down and strangely enough this friend is killed off pretty quickly. The trench-coat wearing male tries telling the cops all about what is going on but they don’t believe his story.  Eventually, the killer discovers where the girl is and the stalking continues. It all builds to a showdown in a building where the trench-coat wearing dude seems to kill the killer…only for the killer to not really be dead.

Halloween

So lets just ignore the whole time traveling details of The Terminator for a second and you have a slasher horror film here, one we have seen before. Its Halloween isn’t it? The Terminator is a Sci-Fi spin on John Carpenter’s Halloween.

Interstellar

One of Christopher Nolan’s better pictures and shows what he can really do when he just copies another film.

Interstellar

So this one takes place in the future (from when the film was made) and is about a discovery of a big black thing in space. A board of suits get together and decide the big black thing needs investigating. So a team of astronauts are sent up into space to research and learn what this big black thing really is. The main character starts to feel homesick and tends to stay up late missing his family. The ship they are on has a super advanced A.I computer. Our main guy decides to get close to the big black thing which opens some kind of portal our hero enters. On the other side, he finds himself in a strange room looking at himself at another point in time. He eventually finds a way out that leads him to floating around in space.

2001 A Space Odyssey

So what we have here is a take on another Sci-Fi classic. A more lavish and emotional story I admit but still pretty much the same film as 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

This sequel to the smash hit original owes quite a lot to a certain other monster movie.

Jurassic PArk 2

A team of experts head out to a mysterious island in the middle of nowhere to document the life found there. This island is inhabited by numerous vicious creatures and the experts end up trapped on said island where they soon find themselves having to fight for their lives. Numerous chases and action sequences ensue but eventually they capture one of the bigger animals found on the island which is then transported via boat to a major American city. The enraged creature manages to escape and run amok around the city causing great fear and destruction along the way.

King Kong

The only thing that is missing here is the weird love story between a giant monster and female lead, cos what you have here is King Kong (any version).

Jurassic Park

Oh I’m not done with those damn dinosaurs yet, even the original film was not that original.

Jurassic Park

So here we have the basic concept of taking a theme park to a whole new level. A hugely successful company open an all new theme park with the major attraction allowing people to experience a time long lost in history they never otherwise would get the chance to visit and live through. Only things do not go according to plan as the main attractions turn on the visitors and the very people who created them. People die as the very things created to entertain turn to murder and the humans are left fighting to survive and escape the park that has gone haywire.

Westworld

So this one kind of gets a free pass seeing as the two movies were both written by the same person, Michael Crichton. But Jurassic Park is an updated version of Westworld.

Independence Day

Yeah I know its cheesy but I really enjoy this flick…the sequel, not so much.

Independence Day

Aliens come from somewhere (maybe Mars?) and strategically place themselves all over the planet. Have they come in peace? Well no as they then destroy famous monuments and buildings along with thousands upon thousands of lives. We Earthlings put up a bit of a fight but it soon becomes clear that these aliens are far to advanced and powerful, the planet is doomed…that is until the aliens become infected with a (computer) virus. They begin to die out and Earth is saved.

The War of the Worlds

I know invading aliens is hardly an original idea but how they were taken out with a virus? H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds was clearly the inspiration behind this one.


 

Have you ever watched a film and thought you’ve seen it before even though it’s your first time seeing it?

Yeah its a strange question for sure, but I have just had that feeling. I only recently watched Ready Player One and all through the film, something was niggling away at the back of my head. The overload of 80s nostalgia and video game references were not enough to distract me from the fact the overall plot was similar to another film. A film where five kids enter a world of wonder and amusement, a world that co-exists along with the real world…”a world of pure imagination” one could say.

Ready Player One.jpg

So quick synopsis for Ready Player One. A poor and underprivileged kid enters a contest to out-right win an entire multi-million dollar company. Along the way he meets four other kids all wanting the same prize. The five meet in a world called The Oasis, a world like no other crafted by an eccentric individual who is a genius video game programmer that creates tests for those who enter. Solve/survive the tests and inherit the whole company.

Does any of this sound familiar? What if instead of a computer generated world it was a chocolate factory and instead the eccentric individual being a computer genius he was a confectionery one? Well you’d have Charlie/Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Now I’m not saying the are the exact same film…but they are strikingly similar in various ways. Both films feature a poverty stricken main character, both are about escapism, both have an isolated and eccentric genius behind the company, both films revolve around testing the protagonist for them to claim their prize and so on.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

You know what, I have more too…

The Lego Movie

This film was much more fun that I thought it would be. A kids film adults can enjoy just as much if not more so.

The LEGO Movie

The plot is about a loner main character who meets a mysterious girl dressed in black. This girl introduces our hero to all sorts of surprising secrets including a whole other world our hero is not fully aware of. He gets questioned by the authorities, but the hero is rescued by the girl in black and he is then introduced to a male character who yaks on about some kind of a prophecy. As it turns out, the hero character is destined to be “The One” from the prophecy. The obligatory training begins to ready the chosen one for his unavoidable destiny. During an action scene where it turns out the hero has been tracked, the authorities turn up and take hostages. The hero comes up with a plan to save the hostages that are held in a skyscraper. The hostages are being tortured via some kind of brain thing to extract information from them. Near the end, the hero ‘dies’ only he’s not really dead and comes back stronger than before and takes on the bad guys to win fulling the prophecy after which the hero and girl in black fall in love.

The MAtrix

Cracking flick, but remove the kid friendly angle and aim it toward a more adult audience and well, you have The Matrix. Yes, The Lego Movie is a more kid friendly take on The Matrix.

The Terminator

One of the finest Sci-Fi films ever made. The right blend of action, thriller and even horror…yes horror.

The Terminator

This film tells the tale of an unaware female being stalked by a killer who is not all he appears to be. But before we get to that, the killer steals someone’s clothing before stealing a car and heading into town to find his victim. The killer stops off at a store to stock up on weapons. The female lead is helped along the way by a male character who is mainly there for exposition while wearing a trench-coat. Our female lead has a friend who suggests the lead needs to live a little and let her hair down and strangely enough this friend is killed off pretty quickly. The trench-coat wearing male tries telling the cops all about what is going on but they don’t believe his story.  Eventually, the killer discovers where the girl is and the stalking continues. It all builds to a showdown in a building where the trench-coat wearing dude seems to kill the killer…only for the killer to not really be dead.

Halloween

So lets just ignore the whole time traveling details of The Terminator for a second and you have a slasher horror film here, one we have seen before. Its Halloween isn’t it? The Terminator is a Sci-Fi spin on John Carpenter’s Halloween.

Interstellar

One of Christopher Nolan’s better pictures and shows what he can really do when he just copies another film.

Interstellar

So this one takes place in the future (from when the film was made) and is about a discovery of a big black thing in space. A board of suits get together and decide the big black thing needs investigating. So a team of astronauts are sent up into space to research and learn what this big black thing really is. The main character starts to feel homesick and tends to stay up late missing his family. The ship they are on has a super advanced A.I computer. Our main guy decides to get close to the big black thing which opens some kind of portal our hero enters. On the other side, he finds himself in a strange room looking at himself at another point in time. He eventually finds a way out that leads him to floating around in space.

2001 A Space Odyssey

So what we have here is a take on another Sci-Fi classic. A more lavish and emotional story I admit but still pretty much the same film as 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

This sequel to the smash hit original owes quite a lot to a certain other monster movie.

Jurassic PArk 2

A team of experts head out to a mysterious island in the middle of nowhere to document the life found there. This island is inhabited by numerous vicious creatures and the experts end up trapped on said island where they soon find themselves having to fight for their lives. Numerous chases and action sequences ensue but eventually they capture one of the bigger animals found on the island which is then transported via boat to a major American city. The enraged creature manages to escape and run amok around the city causing great fear and destruction along the way.

King Kong

The only thing that is missing here is the weird love story between a giant monster and female lead, cos what you have here is King Kong (any version).

Jurassic Park

Oh I’m not done with those damn dinosaurs yet, even the original film was not that original.

Jurassic Park

So here we have the basic concept of taking a theme park to a whole new level. A hugely successful company open an all new theme park with the major attraction allowing people to experience a time long lost in history they never otherwise would get the chance to visit and live through. Only things do not go according to plan as the main attractions turn on the visitors and the very people who created them. People die as the very things created to entertain turn to murder and the humans are left fighting to survive and escape the park that has gone haywire.

Westworld

So this one kind of gets a free pass seeing as the two movies were both written by the same person, Michael Crichton. But Jurassic Park is an updated version of Westworld.

Independence Day

Yeah I know its cheesy but I really enjoy this flick…the sequel, not so much.

Independence Day

Aliens come from somewhere (maybe Mars?) and strategically place themselves all over the planet. Have they come in peace? Well no as they then destroy famous monuments and buildings along with thousands upon thousands of lives. We Earthlings put up a bit of a fight but it soon becomes clear that these aliens are far to advanced and powerful, the planet is doomed…that is until the aliens become infected with a (computer) virus. They begin to die out and Earth is saved.

The War of the Worlds

I know invading aliens is hardly an original idea but how they were taken out with a virus? H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds was clearly the inspiration behind this one.

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The Best (Or Worst) Cinematic Villains

With the major disappointment of a bad guy that was the boring CGI-fest, Steppenwolf from the recent Justice League flick. I got to thinking about some of my favourite on-screen villains over the years. From total, outright murderous killers to more subtle antagonists that have you rooting for the bad guy or feeling sorry for them despite their nefarious ways. There is one thing all the villains on my list have that Justice League‘s Steppenwolf does not… personality, character, depth, charm and screen presence – okay so that’s more than one thing – but you get the point, Steppenwolf was shit.

A film’s bad guy (or gal) can be both despised and revered at the same time if they are written/acted well enough and a good villain is required for the film to work. So here we go and in no particular order – with my top (whatever number as I’m not counting) list of cinematic antagonists. Pre-warning SPOILERS ahead for some films…

Terminator (The Terminator)

Terminator

The movie role that catapulted Arnold Schwarzenegger into Hollywood fame. A killer cyborg sent from the future to kill the leader of the resistance that will stop the machine’s rule over the humans – before he has even been born. The Terminator is a low budget sci-fi/horror flick with a lot of heart and ambition. Still one of the all time great pictures that sticks in the mind thanks to its then unknown star, Schwarzenegger playing the titular Terminator… or The Cyberdyne Systems Model 101, Series T-800 – if you prefer.

A chilling villain that is seemingly unstoppable and for me, still Schwarzenegger’s finest on screen role that packs in a hell of a lot of screen presence even though he only has only 14 lines of dialogue in the entire flick.

Terminator: “Fuck you, asshole.”

The Kurgan/Victor Kruger (Highlander)

The Kurgan

Cruel, ruthless, megalomaniacal and brutal – The Kurgan (real name unknown) is the antagonist from Highlander, played to perfection by Clancy Brown. He sees no issue with running people through with his sword or terrorising nuns in a church. Not much is known about the character other than he used to be a member of an ancient tribe of the Russian Steppes known only as ‘The Kurgan’… which is where he took the name from. When he became an immortal is also unknown and its the unknown that makes the character so damn enjoyable. All we do know about him is that he likes to kill people – especially other immortals.

Brown’s performance as The Kurgan is both terrifying and humorous at the same time. A dark charm that should be wrong, but feels so very right with just the perfect amount of fun thrown in.

Kurgan: “I have something to say! It’s better to burn out than to fade away!”

Biff/Griff/Buford Tannen (Back to the Future)

Biff-Griff-Buford

I think Marty McFly pretty much summed it up when he said “He’s an asshole!” when describing Buford Tannen. Pick any of the iterations of the character from any of the Back to the Future flicks and they are complete assholes… yes even the mild and meek post 1955 time travel version of Biff is somewhat ‘off’ despite him being transformed into a ‘good guy’. Through the Tannen family history, they have killed lawmen, bullied and beaten up countless school kids, attempted to rape Lorraine Baines… oh and murdered George McFly. Yet each and every time they meet a rather repugnant end involving manure.

With Tom Wilson playing each of the Tannen kin through the years. There has been around 130 years of sheer ‘assholery’ through the Back to the Future trilogy and every second of it has been a joy to watch.

Biff Tannen: “Since you’re new here, I’m gonna cut you a break… today. So why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here!”

Roy Batty (Blade Runner)

Roy Batty

Whenever Rutger Hauer plays a bad guy – he proves why he’s one of the best. In fact, when it came to putting this list together – I had a tough time between choosing Roy Batty or ‘John Ryder’ from The Hitcher. I settled on Batty because I have something else planed for Ryder later…

Hauer plays the role as cold as he could giving Batty a chilling persona as the replicant (android made identical to humans but with a shorter life) just trying to find his creator to ask for more life. And when he does finally find his ‘father’, he ends up killing him in a brutal manner. One of the few cinematic villains you genuinely end up feeling sorry for, thanks to the amazing performance from Hauer – especially after his short but eloquent farewell speech.

Roy Batty: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain. Time to die.”

Tommy DeVito (Goodfellas)

Tommy DeVito.jpg

Tommy DeVito is a cruel, psychopathic sadist with ‘short man syndrome’ who’ll share a drink with you one second and then stab you in the neck with a pen the next or shoot you in the foot for not walking fast enough. With the mighty Joe Pesci playing the role, we are given a bad guy that is as fun as he is twisted.

Pesci made the character much more memorable than anyone could have guessed. Going from laughter to sheer rage on a sixpence and often without warning. DeVito really is one of cinemas all time great bad guys… or Goodfellas. Plus he also gave us one of the greatest and most tense scenes caught on film…

Tommy DeVito: “You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe. But I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest)

Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest).jpg

So this one is a little ‘different’ as its a portrayal of a real person and not just anyone – but one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses ever, Joan Crawford – played by Faye Dunaway. Mommie Dearest is a biographical dramatisation flick telling the true-ish story of Joan Crawford adopting a little girl whom she named Christina and finally became a mother after a number of miscarriages.

The film is wonderfully terrifying and that is thanks to Dunaway’s stunning performance as Hollywood royalty – Joan Crawford. The relationship between mother and daughter is disturbing as Crawford pushes and punishes Christina for pretty much nothing. The film was panned by critics when originally released, but has since found its audience today and rightfully so too.

Joan Crawford: “No wire-hangers, ever!”

Nurse Ratched (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

Nurse Ratched

From one crazy-ass bitch to another. Enter Louise Fletcher playing Nurse Mildred Ratched, the main antagonist from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She’s cold-hearted, vindictive and strict as the head nurse of a hospital for patients with mental illnesses. Its when a new patient, R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) enters the hospital that she is pushed to her limit and beyond.

Okay, so I have a confession to make here. I really didn’t want to include Nurse Ratched as a ‘villain’ because I quite honestly do not see her as one. Yeah she’s tough and manipulative – but I’ve always seen her as ‘just doing her job’. For me, I personally find R.P. McMurphy to be more antagonistic in the film than Nurse Ratched. But she is generally seen as the main antagonist so I’ll include her (cos she’s an awesome character) even if I don’t necessarily agree.

Nurse Ratched: “If Mr. McMurphy doesn’t want to take his medication orally, I’m sure we can arrange that he can have it some other way. But I don’t think that he would like it.”

Richard Vernon (The Breakfast Club)

Richard Vernon

Much like the previous Nurse Ratched, here was have a villain who is only considered bad because they are doing their job… except this character is a real asshole and played brilliantly by Paul Gleason. Vernon is the vice principal of Shermer High School, and one Saturday – he holds a detention for five students and tells them to write a thousand word essay on who they think they are.

The Breakfast Club is easily my favourite film from the legendary director John Hughes and I feel a big part of that enjoyment comes from the extremely controlling, devious and egotistic nature of ‘Dick’ Vernon who controls the students with an iron fist and shows no mercy or remorse either.

Richard Vernon: “But someday when you’re outta here and you’ve forgotten all about this place and they’ve forgotten all about you, and you’re wrapped up in your own pathetic life, I’m gonna be there. That’s right. And I’m gonna kick the living shit out of you. I’m gonna knock your dick in the dirt.”

Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)

Hans Landa

When it comes to Quentin Tarantino bad guys – we are spoilt for choice; Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson)… but I’ve gone for the Nazi officer of the SS, Col. Hans Lander and his impressive smoking-pipe. Lander, nicknamed ‘The Jew Hunter’ – a name his is extremely proud of, is ruthless in his investigations and capture (and often killing) of Jews.

Christoph Waltz (rightfully) won an Oscar for his performance as the relentless SS officer and the opening, very tense scene shows just why he fully deserved the award too. Waltz’s multilingual performance is a pure joy to watch and this is one bad guy I love to hate.

Hans Lander: “What a tremendously hostile world that a rat must endure. Yet not only does he survive, he thrives. Because our little foe has an instinct for survival and preservation second to none. And that, Monsieur, is what a Jew shares with a rat.”

John Doe (Seven)

John Doe.jpg

Real name unknown – John Doe is a clever and manipulative character who keeps diaries and notes on his crimes and victims. The film does a great job of keeping him in the shadows and we only learn who he really is in the latter part of the flick – he first ‘real’ entrance in the movie when he walks into the police station covered in blood and calmly saying “detective” over and over as he hands himself in (until he snaps and has to scream) is both twisted and revealing once you know just who’s blood he is covered in and why.

Recent allegations aside – Kevin Spacey is fucking awesome in this flick. He performance is so memorable that you’ll be talking about it for years later… as I am right now. The acting is subtle and calming. This all just adds to the performance and creates one of the best killers ever caught on film.

John Doe: “Wanting people to listen, you can’t just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you’ll notice you’ve got their strict attention.”

‘Angel Eyes’ (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)

Angel Eyes

Some more pipe-smoking action now from Lee Van Cleef playing ‘Angel Eyes’ (real name unknown, though he is named in the original Italian version of the film) in one of the best Westerns ever made. Also known as the titular ‘Bad’ from the film. ‘Angel Eyes’ is a ruthless and cunning killer who is not afraid to pull the trigger on anyone who gets in his way. Still, if shooting people is not enough – he’ll also have the living shit beaten out of you until you are barely alive… as Tuco discovers in the film, while just gleefully watching on.

Van Cleef’s performance of ‘Angel Eyes’ is undeniably cool but also cruel and unforgiving. He barely thinks twice about murder as he shoots his way through people just to find a man called Bill Carson.

‘Angel Eyes’: “Even a filthy beggar like that has got a protecting angel. A golden-haired angel watches over him.”

Hans Gruber (Die Hard)

Hans Gruber

Of course I had to include quite possibly THE greatest bad guy in an action film ever. Hans Gruber is cool, calm and collected – he dresses well and is a very reasonable person. But don’t let any of that fool as as he’s also ruthless and thinks nothing of shooting someone in the head at point blank range. He was once part of the Volksfrei West German terrorist group – but was expelled from the group… probably for being too damn bad-ass.

God damn it, I miss Alan Rickman and this is his best role ever. He dulcet, super smooth voice added to the character’s laid back attitude and persona. Check out any ‘top (whatever) bad guys list’ on the interwebs and you’ll find Hans Gruber pretty much always near the top if not at the top. The only reason he’s not at the top here is because I just don’t do ‘top lists’. Rickman’s performance is just memorising and makes Gruber one of those rare villains you can’t help but love and just wish he got away with it at the end.

Hans Gruber: “I wanted this to be professional, efficient, adult, cooperative. Not a lot to ask. Alas, your Mr. Takagi did not see it that way… so he won’t be joining us for the rest of his life.”

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (Full Metal Jacket)

Sergeant Hartman.jpg

A foul-mouthed drill sergeant who bullies his recruits – especially the struggling Private Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio) played to his shoutiest best by R. Lee Ermey. So strong and memorable was this performance that he has been held up as the template for any drill sergeant in TV and films ever since. He’s racist, obnoxious, uncaring and ruthless – his dialogue has gone down in movie history as being some of the very best from any single film character.

Ermey’s performance is shocking but he also makes it impossible to not ‘enjoy’ the character despite his sheer awfulness. The way he verbally,  physically and mentally abuses his recruits is tremendous but uncomfortable to watch and all comes to a boiling point when he pushes Private Pyle too far.

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: “Holy dog shit! Texas? Only steers and queers come from Texas, Private Cowboy, and you don’t look much like a steer to me, so that kinda narrows it down. Do you suck dicks?”

Don Logan (Sexy Beast)

Don Logan

You remember the movie Gandhi right? The one where (Sir) Ben Kingsley plays the eponymous peace-seeking pacifist and won the best actor Oscar for it too? Well this role is the polar opposite of that and in my opinion just as worthy of an Oscar too. This is Kingsley at his foul-mouthed, frenzied, frightening finest. Logan is a recruiter for the London criminal underworld who turns up in Spain to convince retired expert safe-cracker Gary Dove (Ray Winstone) to take part in a major London bank heist. But it is when Dove turns the offer down that Logan shows his true colours.

I avoided this film at first because I thought it sounded like a crap porn flick. So when I did finally sit down to watch it – going in completely unaware of what it was about, I was blown away by Kingsley’s stunning performance. Not only is Sexy Beast a great ‘London gangster’ flick – it features a brilliant bad guy with Logan and one that’ll stick in my head forever.

Don Logan: “You’re the problem! You’re the fucking problem you fucking Dr White honkin’ jam-rag fucking spunk-bubble! I’m telling you Aitch you keep looking at me I’ll put you in the fucking ground, promise you!”

Norman Bates (Psycho)

Norman Bates

Norman Bates – the man with severe ‘mommy issues’. Probably one of the greatest villains to ever grace the cinema screen. A young, shy and retiring man who’s nervousness hides a deep, dark secret. With Anthony Perkins playing the role in a charming and enduring manner which helps to hide just exactly what is going on in his head. Psycho is one of the greatest films ever made with such iconic imagery, music and of course that ending…

If you’ve ever read the novel Psycho – then you’d know just how different the character of Norman is in the film. In the book, he’s a fat, balding alcoholic. A million miles away from Perkins. But it was director Alfred Hitchcock who wanted to make the change so the audience would sympathise with Norman, and its a change that really works well and helped by the charismatic performance of Perkins himself which makes the ending all the more shocking.

Norman Bates: “It’s not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?”

Harry Lime (The Third Man)

Harry Lime.jpg

Not to be confused with the burglar Harry Lime from Home Alone. This Lime is a criminal who was killed in a car accident… or was he? When one of his close friends claim to have seen Lime alive and well, his grave is opened up only to find that Lime is not the man buried. Which all leads to a cat and mouse chase to track down the criminal.

Lime is effortlessly played by Orson Welles. He is amoral, careless but also wickedly charming and charismatic too. The Third Man is a wonderful flick that is most definitely lifted several levels by Welles’ performance – his infamous wry smirk hides a thousand lies.

Harry Lime: “In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

Vincenzo Coccotti (True Romance)

Vincenzo Coccotti.jpg

Vincenzo Coccotti is a Sicilian consigliere for local Detroit mobster ‘Blue’ Lou Boyle. Only a minor character in the film – but one you won’t forget in a hurry. Coccotti is cold and calculating played beautifully by Christopher Walken. He is hardly in the film and only appears in one scene… but what a great scene it is.

My second Tarantino bad guy on here, but he does create such awesome villains that I could probably do a list just full of them. The aforementioned scene in which Coccotti appears alongside Clifford Worley (Dennis Hopper) is a tense and wonderfully written scene that has Tarantino’s fingerprints all over it. Walken’s performance is both terrifying and engrossing at the same time.

Vincent Coccotti: “I’m the Anti-Christ. You got me in a vendetta kind of mood. You tell the angels in heaven you never seen evil so singularly personified as you did in the face of the man who killed you. My name is Vincent Coccotti.”

Amon Goeth (Schindler’s List)

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This guy is one psychopathic, sadistic, brutal, abusive and emotionless Nazi. He’ll sit on his balcony and shoot Jews for no reason other than they are Jews and he is bored. He also beat the shit of his maid because she turned down his advances. And these instances are some of his more tame crimes. At the end of the film, Goeth is executed by hanging, but not before calmly patting his hair into place and uttering “Heil Hitler” – showing his total lack of remorse perfectly clear.

Played by Ralph Fiennes to chilling effect, this performance is one of the most disturbing and difficult to watch in film. Some bad guys have a redeeming quality, if not more than one. Goeth has nothing redeeming about him, he’s just pure fucking evil personified. One of the most disgustingly, despicable movie villains ever.

Amon Goeth: “Today is history and you are part of it. Six hundred years ago, when elsewhere they were footing the blame for the Black Death, Casimir the Great – so called – told the Jews they could come to Krakow. They came. They trundled their belongings into the city. They settled. They took hold. They prospered in business, science, education, the arts. They came with nothing. And they flourished. For six centuries there has been a Jewish Krakow. By this evening those six centuries will be a rumour. They never happened. Today is history.”


Well there you have it, a selection of some of my favourite on screen villains… and all of them far more impressive and memorable than Steppenwolf. To be honest, there were a tonne I left off this list with plenty more antagonists I enjoy just as much if not more. But I had to pick and choose to keep this list at a reasonable length – still, I could always do another list in the future or even feature some of my other favourites in much more detailed articles…

Game Over Man, Game Over! Remembering Bill Paxton

Well this is a kick to the scrotum – we recently lost Bill Paxton and right here, I’d like to remember the man, his career and reveal what Bill was doing the day that JFK was assassinated.

Bill was born in Texas on the 17th May 1955. His first acting job was in a movie called Crazy Mama from 1975, where he played a small uncredited role. He directed and starred in the all too strange and surreal video to the Barnes & Barnes song Fish Heads in 1980.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. You want to know about that JFK connection right? Well…

The above photo is on display At The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Its a photo of the gathering crowd outside the hotel that JFK was staying in on the 22nd of November, 1963 and it was taken in the morning just as JFK was setting out for his what would be a fatal tour of Dallas, Texas. See that 8 year old boy being lifted above the crowd in the back? That’s Bill Paxton.

Anyway, back to Bill’s movie career. He managed to get a few small roles through the early 80s in movies including Stripes (1981), Night Warning (1982), Streets Of Fire (1984) among others. Yet it was a small role playing a spiky, blue haired street punk in some young and unknown film director’s low budget flick called The Terminator from 1984 that most movie fans remember seeing Bill for the first time.

He may have had the first line in the movie, but he learns the hard way that you just do not pull a flick-knife on a killer cyborg sent from the future. This small role kick-started a long friendship and career with director James Cameron. Bill and James collaborated several times through the years including True Lies (1994) and Titanic (1997). The duo even teamed up for a documentary on the real Titanic called Ghosts of the Abyss released in 2003. And yes, of course James gave Bill his breakthrough role as Private Hudson in the 1986 sequel – Aliens.

Yet there is one more collaboration between Bill and James that not too many people are aware of. You see, in 1982 Bill formed a musical band called; Martini Ranch. They released a song called Reach and the video was directed by none other than James Cameron. The music video is worth watching to see how many other The Terminator and Aliens alumni you can spot. But be on the look out for Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser and Jenette Goldstein.

Bill continued to forge himself a career as an actor through the 80s and 90s in films and TV. His many, many appearances include; Commando, Back to Back, Next of Kin, Brain Dead, Trespass, Predator 2, Tombstone, Apollo 13 and Twister just to name a few.

By the mid-late 90s, Bill was getting more and more roles. With his performance in the Sam Raimi’s tense thriller A Simple Plan from 1998 being one of my personal favourites.

All through the 2000s, he was continually working in movies and TV. Frasier, Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Thunderbirds, 2 Guns, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. all featured Bill. He even starred in a sequel TV show to the Denzel Washington movie, Training Day. And I can’t forget the Groundhog Day-esque Edge of Tomorrow where Bill acted alongside Tom Cruise from 2014.

From the morning of the JFK assassination of 1963 and his cheeky appearance to his as yet unreleased movie; The Circle where Bill will be seen acting with Tom Hanks, John Boyega and Emma Watson. Bill had an impressive, long and varied career. But I have always found it strange how he never really become the big leading man in the movies. A handful of larger roles aside, he always seemed to be a secondary character – and I’ve saved the best until last…

Even with over 90 roles in music videos, TV shows, documentaries and of course movies. There is one character in one film that I will always remember Bill Paxton for. You can keep your Private Hudson and Aliens. This is the Bill Paxton I’ll always remember.

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From the John Hughes classic Weird Science – the lovable asshole that is Chet Donnelly. I love this character so damn much even though he’s horrible, overbearing and does nothing but terrorise and bully his younger brother Wyatt throughout the film.

Chet is just so damn memorable with so many quotable lines.

But first I’d like to… butter your muffin.

That’s not a joke, that’s a severe behavioural disorder. I mean, the next thing you know, you’ll be wearing a bra on your head!

Not having a good time? Do you think they’re having a good time being catatonic in a closet?

How ’bout a nice greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray?

I’m gonna tell Mom and Dad everything. I’m even considering makin’ up some shit!

You two donkey-dicks couldn’t get laid in a morgue.

You’re stewed, buttwad!

And my all time favourite Chet Donnelly line from Weird Science

An accident? An accident? Do you realise it’s snowing in my room goddammit!

I really need to go and re-watch Weird Science for the 157th time.

Bill Paxton died on the 25th February 2017 due to complications from surgery. He was 61.

Thanks for the movie memories Bill.

Anyone who’s worked very hard on a craft or an art to get a certain precision in terms of execution and performance wants to get past all that stuff that holds you up – your ego, all the doubts.

An Incomplete History of Horror Films Part V.

Its the decade of big hair and even bigger horror films. the 80s.

If the 70s was my favourite decade for horror films, then the 80s is a very, very close second. This was the era of the slasher film (and their numerous sequels), plus a few examples of modernising the classic movie monsters from the past. Some of my favourite horror movie directors cut their teeth in the 80s and it was also the decade of amateur, low budget masterpieces. The effects were bigger, better and bloodier and the films became more controversial as the boundaries of what was allowed to be seen on film were pushed to breaking point with many movies being outright banned here in the UK as the censors hit hard and the dawn of the ‘video nasty‘ was born.

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Cannibal Holocaust (1980): Well, if I’m going to show how controversial the 80s horror movie was, I may as well go straight for the jugular. Directed by Ruggero Deodato and easily one of the most infamous and controversial horror films to ever be made. A team of four documentary makers go to a South American jungle to search for cannibals. They go missing, so an anthropologist and his team is sent to find them. The documentary team are never found, but their film reels are…

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Where to start with this film, so much to cover? This is often regarded as the first of the ‘found footage’ sub-genre that became popular in the late 90s onward, as the movie’s plot is told through the film that the missing documentary team made. Onto the controversy; the director was arrested and charged with obscenity then all copies of the film were ordered to be destroyed… but why, its only a movie right? Well that is not what a magazine in France thought, they believed the film was real and that people were actually killed. This prompted charges against director; Ruggero Deodato to now include murder. It all even went to court as Ruggero Deodato had to prove his innocence by having the actors who supposedly died in the film appear in court as well as show behind the scenes photos of other actors that ‘died’ on screen still being alive as well as the effects work used. Eventually the charges against Deodato were dropped, but that was not the end. So no human was killed making this film, but something(s) were. There are actual animal killings shown in this movie, not special effects but real animals being killed. A coati is killed with a knife, a large turtle is decapitated and its limbs are then cut off before its shell and entrails are removed, a tarantula and boa constrictor are killed with a machete, a squirrel monkey is decapitated and a pig is shot in the head with a shotgun. All real and all on film. This lead to the film being heavily censored or outright banned in some countries and its still a sore issue today. There is a lot more to cover with this film, but I have plenty more pictures to talk about so need to move on. But do I recommend this one? Yes I do. There are various versions of this film to watch, there is an edited version that cuts out most of the violence and all of the animal killings. However, I have to be honest here and say its crap. If you really want to watch this movie, then you just have to watch the full, uncut version. Yes its hard to sit through and I’m an animal lover so detest the killing of animals for entertainment. But for the full impact of the film, the uncut one is the only version to watch.

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Fade to Black (1980): A very low budget psychological horror movie written and directed by Vernon Zimmerman. Eric is frequently bullied and betrayed, he hides away from his torment in his love for horror movies and often fantasies about being one of the villains. Eventually he snaps and begins a killing spree against the very people that bullied and opposed him all while being influenced by some of his favourite horror icons.

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Its a shame this picture is so low budget as its a great idea, but the lack of money really shows on screen.The plot is a little bare, some of the death scenes are just pathetic and the editing is terrible. But there is still a watchable movie here. Its great to see someone get made up and dressed in classic movie monster garb (Dracula, The Mummy, etc) and show that there is still room for the old guard in horror films. Dennis Christopher playing Eric is a joy to watch and Linda Kerridge as a Marilyn Monroe look-alike is great too. Plus be on the look out for a small appearance by Mickey Rourke. A good film, but tremendously flawed. Only worth a watch if you enjoy low budget schlock.

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Friday the 13th (1980): Just like Halloween (1978), I think its law to include this in a horror movie list. Directed by Sean S. Cunningham. It summer at Camp Crystal Lake and a group of young camp counsellors are readying the camp for a busy season. But it seems that somebody isn’t happy about all the commotion as the camp counsellors are killed off one by one.

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I think it can be said without much argument that Friday the 13th is one of the main trendsetters in terms of the ‘slasher’ sub-genre of horror film. After John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) set the standard, many, many followed and this film was one of the big hitters that went on to become a very successful franchise with about six hundred sequels (I may have over counted), spin-offs and even a remake. The franchise became so huge and popular that everyone knows the killer in Friday the 13th is Jason Voorhees… isn’t he? One of the all time classic horror films with exceptional make up/effects work by the grand-master himself, Tom Savini. The film also features an early role for Kevin Bacon.

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The Shining (1980): I said in the previous part how The Exorcist (1973) is my all time favourite horror film, and it is, but this picture is a close second. Based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King, directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring the legendary Jack Nicholson. Jack Torrance is a writer struggling to write his next book, he takes on a job offer as a caretaker at a remote hotel that closes down for the winter. Arriving with his wife and son, Danny. As Danny starts to witness strange hallucinations, Jack begins to experience cabin fever and slowly goes insane.

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One of the very best examples of a tremendous psychological horror film. This movie was detested by Stephen King, so much so that he went on to publicly slam this picture and even make his own version as a three part TV mini-series in 1997. I love King’s novel and I also love Kubrick’s version just as much (I also enjoyed the TV mini-series… but not as much), they are two very different animals from two different geniuses. Jack Nicholson gives one of the best performances of his career, if not THE best and goes down in horror history as one of the all time great villains. There is a unnerving feeling of tension right from the opening credits of the film and it never lets up until the end credits roll. The hotel backdrop is both gorgeous and foreboding and Jack’s slow decent into madness is well done throughout the picture. It all builds up to a terrifying ending with a quizzical footnote involving a photo that still has people theorising and debating today. Beautifully shot, brilliantly adapted from the novel (despite what King says) and genuinely scary… “Heeeeeere’s Johnny!” .

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An American Werewolf in London (1982):I see the bad moon arising.“, great song by CCR from an equally great film directed by John Landis. Two American backpackers go exploring the English countryside moors where they are attacked by a wolf-like creature. One of the two outright dies, while the other is mauled but lives and he slowly learns he has been given the werewolf curse.

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Oh, how I love this film. A modern twist on the classic werewolf lore. The film is a great mix of genuine scares blended with a very dark sense of humour. The make up effects are just sublime, especially on the ever decaying Jack who haunts his werewolf friend David as he is trapped in limbo. The main werewolf transformation scene is still the greatest werewolf transformation ever filmed and make up artist, Rick Baker deservedly won and Oscar for his work in this movie. Another thing that needs mention are the terrifying nightmares David has as his curse starts to take over. Some absolutely amazing visuals and scary scenes. My favourite werewolf movie by far… and the soundtrack is awesome too as each of the main songs has the word ‘moon’ in the title. Almost forgot to mention the radio adaption form 1997 which is also worth checking out if you can find it.

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Docteur Jekyll et les femmes (1981): This is a French film by director Walerian Borowczyk. A modernised take on the Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Set in the 19th century in London. A celebration for Dr Henry Jekyll and Fanny Osbourne’s engagement is being held at Dr. Jekyll’s home. Later that night, one of the female guests is brutally attacked, raped and murdered in her room and this starts a very bizarre and bloody series of events.

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This film is a strange and often difficult watch (if you can find a fully uncut version), yet its beautifully shot and directed. The movie is very surreal and often feels almost dream like. There is quite a lot of sex and nudity in this one and often mixed with violence. The film feels very sleazy, but that sleaze just works. Not a film for everyone, but if you want a Dr Jekyll yarn that dares to be different and even shocking at times, then you may enjoy this picture.

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The Evil Dead (1981): Directed by Sam Raimi and starring cult fan actor, Bruce Campbell. Five college friends shack up in a cabin in the woods. A recording is found in the cellar and played back which unleashes an evil force with the power to possess humans and turn them into demons.

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I already did a quick overview of this film. I really enjoy low budget horror movies from first time directors and The Evil Dead is pretty much the pinnacle. The plot is bare basic, the acting is horrible and the effects work is cheap… but the film is still one of the best horror films made. This is the movie that got me interested in what happens behind the camera just as much as in front of it. I love reading/watching anything about The Evil Dead and think its amazing how this film was made by a few teenagers and how it has gone on the become a successful franchise recognised around the world. It a cheap, low budget effort. But its also a bloody, scary and effective picture with some of the best camerawork and direction seen at the time.

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Possession (1981): A little known French/German horror film directed by Andrzej Żuławski and starring Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani. Mark returns home from a business trip away, he finds is wife, Anna is restless and withdrawn, Anna says she wants a divorce and she starts to act even more irrational and bizarre. Mark believes another man is involved but it seems Anna’s behaviour is related to something much more sinister.

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How best to describe this movie? An extreme assault on the senses, that sounds about right. This picture is surreal and hyperactive, its beautiful and disturbing at the same time. The acting is OTT and eccentric, yet it all fits perfectly with the tone of the film. You’ll watch this film once and think to yourself ‘what the fuck did I just watch’ but then immediately want to watch it again and it is subsequent viewings that make this film so much more enjoyable. Isabelle Adjani won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1981 and deservedly so too. Not an easy watch, but if you can make it through, you will be rewarded with a hard edged and brutal horror film that will stick with you forever.

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Basket Case (1982): Written and directed by Frank Henenlotter. This is another one of those low budget, gore-fests that I enjoy so much. Duane is a strange young man who goes everywhere with a wicker basket which contains his surgically removed, deformed Siamese twin. The brothers set out to seek vengeance on the doctors who separated them.

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Bizarre seems such a tame word to use as a descriptive of the one, but bizarre it is. This is a trashy film, its not high art, it has no political statement to make. Its just what it is meant to be. A low budget, low brow piece of rubbish… but its great and entertaining rubbish. Its a film about a deformed Siamese twin kept is a wicker basket that wants revenge, what are you expecting? Its silly, hokey and gory. A stupid film that entertains from start to finish.

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Creepshow (1982): I love horror anthology pictures and this is one of the very best. Directed by George A. Romero, the film includes five tales (and a wrap around story); Father’s Day is about a cruel dead father who comes back to carry on his reign of terror. The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill is a tale where a country bumpkin discovers a recently crashed meteorite but after he touches it, things slowly go very wrong. Something to Tide You Over has a man who finds out his wife has been having an affair, so he buries his wife and her lover alive up to their heads on a beach as the tide comes in, only they return for revenge. The Crate is a wonderful tale about a hard done by man who finds a way to rid himself rid his overbearing wife thanks to a mysterious crate. They’re Creeping Up on You is about a ruthless businessman suffering from mysophobia and locks himself away in his germ free apartment only to be invaded by his worst nightmare.

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I could quite honesty go on about this picture for hours and hours… but I can’t here as there is so many other films to cover. What is there to like? Directed by George A. Romero, written by Stephen King and make up effects work by Tom Savini… you couldn’t get a better horror team than that in the 1980s. Each of the five stories are great and offer a varying amount of scares as well as macabre comedy. Inspired by the old horror EC comics of the 40s-50s and that inspiration shines through. This film’s tongue is firmly placed in its cheek and its a complete riot.

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Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982): The second sequel to the John Carpenter classic that isn’t really a sequel. Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, the film departs form the story of Micheal Myers and does its own thing. A mysterious toy maker releases a new line of Halloween masks for sale which seem to have some kind of a connection to a strange series of commercials on TV that are counting down to a big event… but what?

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This film was despised at the time of release as it took a severe departure from the Halloween movie franchise (even though this was only the 3rd film). Fans hated it as did the critics, yet over the years, the movie has gained a strong a loyal following. I adore this film and always have done, I got tired of the whole Micheal Myers thing after the first film anyway, so this movie was a breath of fresh air. Originally, John Carpenter wanted this to be the start of a whole new anthology idea after he killed of Micheal Myers in the first sequel. His intention was to have a series of Halloween themed films each year all with a new story, yet they would all exist in one shared film universe. But as the fans at the time were too small minded and just wanted more Micheal Myers, more of the same tired old formula, the idea was dropped and Myers was brought back for several other terrible sequels instead. Still, this movie is a great horror picture full of scares and a few hard to watch scenes too. A massively overlooked film that deserves much more credit.

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Poltergeist (1982): A true classic in every sense of the word. Directed by Tobe Hooper, written and produced by Steven Spielberg. The Freelings are a young and loving family who move into their new home. The youngest daughter, Carol Anne, develops a strange connection to the TV and things only get stranger from that point on.

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One of the all time classics and a modern retelling of a golden age ghost story. The film is chock full of iconic and memorable imagery/scenes. That picture of the clown up there probably sparked off childhood memories you’d rather forget. What about the tree or the skeletons in the unfinished swimming pool, maybe the scene where the paranormal investigator goes to wash his face? The visual effects in this one still stand up today (for the most part) and are still some of my strongest memories of a horror film. As scary as it is tense and well made, Poltergeist has stood the test of time and can still offer plenty of chills today.

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The Thing (1982): Another one form one of the all time greats, director John Carpenter. A loose remake of The Thing from Another World (1951) and based on the novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. Starring Kurt Russell and featuring music by the legendary Ennio Morricone. Set in Antarctica and a US research station is suddenly brought to attention by a Norwegian helicopter trying to kill a dog. After the helicopter crashes, the members of the US research station take the dog in as a pet, which was perhaps not the wisest idea.

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I must have been around 7/8 years old and watching this with my brothers and cousins at my Auntie Chris’ house one night. I have a very strong memory of watching THAT dog scene and if you have seen the film, then you know exactly which very specific dog scene I am talking about. I remember being both horrifically scared and yet unable to look away at the same time. I was terrified but amazed. It was that moment when I fell in love with horror films. Oh I had seen other horror films before this one, but nothing quite like The Thing. So I have John Carpenter and a dog to thank for my love of horror films. This film is amazing, the directing is spot on and the isolation you feel due to the setting is unnerving. Ennio Morricone’s score is almost minimal and fits perfectly. Then there is the small cast full of great performances of which the star, Kurt Russell is easily the best. Also of note is Rob Bottin who headed up the effects/make up department and created some of the most stunningly grotesque and yet beautiful effects work of the 80s. “You gotta be fuckin’ kidding!

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Psycho II (1983): The first sequel (there were others) to the Hitchcock classic Psycho (1960). Sitting in the director’s chair this time around is Richard Franklin and returning as Norman Bates is Anthony Perkins. After 22 years of being institutionalised following the events of the first film, Norman is released and goes back to his motel and it seems that mother is also back too.

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I love the original film, it is one of my all time favourite films ever. Is this sequel as good? No, not at ‘as good’… but its still a damn good film regardless. There are some genius moments of directing here including blending the aftermath of perhaps the most famous scene of the original film into this sequel seamlessly. There are a few scenes that I’m not a fan of (like a bloody, overflowing toilet… been done countless times before) but then there are also scenes that are also excellent. The film leaves you guessing as to whether Norman is settling back into his old ways, or is somebody attempting to give him a few gentle pushes? Maybe Norman is innocent in all of this? Anthony Perkins is just as great playing the role here as he was in 1960, also returning from the original is Vera Miles and even Hitchcock makes a cameo appearance despite dying three years earlier. An overlooked film and one of the better horror sequels made, well worth checking out as a double feature with the original.

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Gremlins (1984): Directed by Joe Dante and starring Zach Galligan & Phoebe Cates. Billy is given a Christmas gift, a small and unusual creature called a Mogwai. This Mogwai has a strict set of three rules that Billy must adhere to, but due to series of ‘accidents’ the rules are broken and the Gremlins are born.

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How do you categorise this film? Its a family friendly, Christmas themed, horror, comedy, action, satire of monster movies… movie. There is a weird cocktail of so many genres and sub-genres it just shouldn’t work, but it does. Gremlins can be genuinely scary at times, but then a few seconds later and it’ll make you smile with its humour. The very dark and macabre tale Kate tells about how she learned there is no Santa Claus is both disturbing and humorous. The Gremlins themselves are malicious but engaging and thoroughly entertaining. And of course, yes Gizmo the Mogwai is ‘cute’. This is a fun romp for all the family to enjoy regardless of age.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): The film that made me a fan of writer/director Wes Craven. The birth of one of the all time great horror icons, Freddy Krueger and the start of the career of some unknown actor called Johnny Depp. A group of teenagers are being haunted by nightmares where a horribly scarred and burnt maniac with knives for fingernails called Freddy, who scares them so much they refuse to sleep. It soon becomes apparent that if this guy kills you in your dreams, then you die for real. But who is this Freddy and where did he come from, maybe the parents know more than they are willing to let on?

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Does Freddy Krueger (or this film) really need any kind of an introduction? This is arguably Wes Craven’s masterpiece (for some anyway, there is another film he made later that for me is his masterpiece…). Rather like Friday the 13th (1980), this film is one of those trend setters that defined the slasher sub-genre of horror films and much like ‘Friday’, it too spawned many, many sequels, spin offs and a remake. Freddy has rightfully gone down as one of the all time great horror icons and has become cemented in many a subconscious of the horror fan. The film has some overtly bloody scenes, but also a film with just as many creepy/scary images and scenes that contain really well done frights. “One, two…

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The Terminator (1984): Its another one of those low budget films from a little known director and this time its James Cameron in the hot seat. Starring the then unknowns; Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton and some guy called, Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the year 2029, a killer cyborg is sent back in time to 1984 to murder the mother of the leader of the resistance who leads the humans to defeat the self-aware Skynet super computer. If the mother is dead, then the leader can never be born. But the resistance themselves send back a lone soldier as a protector.

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I know what some people are thinking as they read this. “The Terminator isn’t a horror film.”. Yeah, I’ve heard this before numerous times, even my girlfriend said the same thing as I was writing this when she peered over my shoulder. The Terminator is a horror film and please allow me to plead my case as not only will I put forward a convincing argument, I’ll also categorise what sub-genre of horror film it falls into. Okay, so we have a weak female who by the end becomes a stronger version of herself (Sarah), a virgin who has sex and dies shortly afterwards (Kyle), a killer that is in someway masked or in disguise (Terminator), POV shots from the killer, a chase type movie where the killer keeps perusing its intended victim(s) and there is even an ending where the killer is (supposedly) stopped just to come back at during the end for more. Does any of this sound familiar? These are slasher movie tropes as The Terminator is a slasher horror film. Just remove the sci-fi element for a while and think of the film on its purest terms. A movie about a stalking killer who systematically goes through a phone book and murders women named Sarah Conner. Change the killer form a cyborg to an everyday flesh and blood human, remove the time travel and sci-fi elements, change the title to ‘The Phone-book Killer’ and you have a bog standard 80s slasher film. The Terminator is anything but bog standard though and simple because it just threw in a few sci-fi elements. Watch something like Halloween (1978) and then watch this film directly afterwards and you’ll see so many of the tropes and clichés from the classic slasher film repeated in The Terminator. This flick is a horror film, and a damn good one too.

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Dèmoni (1985): AKA, Demons is produced by Italian horror guru, Dario Argento and directed by Lamberto Bava. A group of people are invited to attend a preview screening of a new film. One of the guests tries on a prop from the movie, a silver mask of a demon and this kick-starts a gruesome series of events that get worse and worse.

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The plot is simple, the acting is sub-par and the music is typical, cheesy 80s rock. But the film is one of the most enjoyable demonic possession films made with buckets of blood thrown in too. Much like the decade it comes from, this film is a bit of a mess and a lot of things don’t make much sense… but it all just clicks and works. It almost gets a bit meta with the idea of a film about demons being shown in a film about demons, as life begins to imitate art. The dead bodies build up, both human and demon as the film progresses and what is left of the survivors escape the cinema and out onto the streets where they are saved, only for the viewer to be hit with a great stinger of an ending that still resonates with me today. Here’s an interesting tit-bit for you too, the guy in the mask handing out invites at the start of the movie is Michele Soavi. A protégé of Argento who would go on to become a horror movie director himself.

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The Return of the Living Dead (1985): From writer/director Dan O’Bannon. A pair of employees at a medical supply warehouse accidentally release a gas into the air. The gas brings back to life a cadaver which the duo cut up and then enlist the help of a local mortician to burn and hopefully end their problems, only this triggers an even bigger problem.

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Braaaaaaaaiiins!” the zombies cry out in this film as they hunt for brains to eat. This was the first film to introduce the idea of a zombie that eats brains, something that has now become common place and referenced countless times. The idea of mixing comedy and horror is not a new one, it has been around since the 1930s, but very few films manage to get the balance right. ROLTD doesn’t just get it right, it nails the blend of comedy and horror perfectly. As gory and scary as it is funny, this film is a riot and wicked fun. The scene where a zombie torso is interrogated (above image) and it is revealed that zombies need to eat brains as being dead hurts and brains ease the pain is genius, as it gives a reason for the zombie attacks and you actually start to feel a little sympathy for them too. The make up is amazing with some of the most detailed and creative zombies ever seen on film, Tarman, need I say more?

reanimator

Re-Animator (1985): Loosely based on the H. P. Lovecraft short story, Herbert West–Reanimator. Directed by Stuart Gordon and starring Jeffrey Combs. Herbert West is a scientist who creates a fluid which can bring dead tissue back to life. With the help of his medical student housemate Dan, Herbert West gains access to a morgue where he can continue he research into bringing the dead back to life.

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Part Frankenstein, part zombie movie and all topped of with a deliciously dark flow of humour. Re-Animator is a gory masterpiece of horror cinema. Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West is wonderfully over the top and a joy to watch as his passion drives him to the brink of insanity, an interesting modern take on the ‘mad scientist’ of the 50s era. Also of note is the main antagonist of the movie, Dr. Carl Hill played by David Gale who ends up tangling with Herbert West and coming off worse for wear. There are some truly gore-tastic scenes in this one as well as some rather ‘WTF’ ones too that all build up to an unforgettable ending. Its also worth checking out the other films in this franchise; Bride of Re-Animator (1990) and Beyond Re-Animator (2003).

entrails

Entrails of a Virgin (1986): An infamous Japanese horror classic directed by Kazuo Komizu. A group involved in making porn head out to a house in the mountains where they find a mud covered demon who brutally kills the males and rapes the females with its ‘impressive’ appendage.

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Errrr, yeah. How do I cover this one? I really enjoy Japanese horror, alas not all of it is good. I find that it falls under three basic categories. 1) Damn good, 2) Damn terrible and 3) What the fuck did I just watch? Entrails of a Virgin definitely falls into category 3. There is no plot, just and excuse to show sex, nudity and gore. The sex is mostly censored/fogged out as there were some very strict rules when it came to showing sex on screen in Japan, yet strangely the gore is shown in all its glory. Never understood why something as natural and normal as sex was taboo but murder, blood and gore was perfectly fine. And the gore in this is taken to ridiculous levels. Is this a good film? No, its terrible. But it is a film that has become so infamous that I feel it deserves a mention here. Worth watching? Not really, but if you want to see some soft core censored porn alongside unbelievable gore… then this is the film for you.

thefly

The Fly (1986): A remake of the 1958 film that was based on the short story by George Langelaan. Directed by the wonderfully weird David Cronenberg and starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. Seth Brundle is a brilliant scientist who has created two pods capable of teleportation. he uses himself as a guinea pig to test his invention, but just as he prepares to teleport himself, a fly enters the pod with him and the DNA of the fly becomes part of Seth.

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This is how you do a horror remake well. The chemistry between Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis is amazing (well they did marry in 1987) and they play off each other perfectly. The make up effects as Seth slowly turns into ‘Brundlefly’ is astonishing and the slow transformation brings about some disturbing scenes. Goldblum gives a stunning performance as he manages to break through all the make up he has to endure and still make you feel something for the character. The ending is a bloody, grotesque conclusion and yet utterly heart breaking at the same time. Its a strange feeling how the film makes you feel for the monster by the time the credits roll. A simple story, but told so very well.

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The Hitcher (1986): An overlooked masterpiece of thriller/horror directed by Robert Harmon and starring the mesmerising Rutger Hauer. A young man has a job transporting a car from one state to another. While driving along a quiet desert road, he spots a hitchhiker and offers him a ride. This hitcher is not quite what he seems and a game of ‘cat & mouse’ begins between the two.

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Is this a horror film? Quite a few people I know don’t think so, but for me it most definitely is. This isn’t a picture about blood and gore, this is a movie that plays on tension and fear. Is a slow burner with a simple plot. Often massively overlooked and often forgotten about too. This film oozes atmosphere and tension, there are scenes in this movie that will stick with me forever. As every time I have a burger and fires, I always check the plate first. Rutger Hauer is simply astonishing in his role of ‘John Ryder’ (if that is his real name) and is perfect casting, Hauer is at his most ‘Rutger-ist” in this film. I could sit here and write about this film for hours, who is ‘John Ryder’, why is he doing all of this, etc? The film has a lot of subtlety and subtext that many people miss. An amazing flick the deserves a lot more credit… just avoid the terrible sequel and remake.

hellraiser

Hellraiser (1987): Clive Barker is the writer/director behind this gothic classic based on Barker’s own short story; The Hellbound Heart. Larry moves into his old family home along with his wife. They soon discover that Larry’s bother, Frank has been squatting in the house but has mysteriously disappeared. While moving in, Larry cuts himself by accident and this triggers a series of events that reveal what happened to Frank and his connection to a strange puzzle box.

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What a movie, I love this film. Its a great throwback to the gothic horror films Hammer were making in their heyday, but mixed with the blood-soaked gore that became common place in the 80s. Its essentially a haunted house movie… but not. There is so much memorable imagery in this film its hard to know where to start. Well you have the poster-boy himself, Pinhead (though only known as ‘Main Cenobite’ in the movie), it strange how Pinhead became the face of Hellraiser despite the fact he actually only has a few minutes of screen-time, I think the puzzle box itself has more screen-time. There is a scene in this picture that is disgustingly disturbing and yet strangely alluring and beautiful to watch, I refer to the re-birth of Frank. A visual treat along with a compelling plot, interesting characters and of course, plenty of blood. A great movie well worth watching and if you don’t, “we’ll tear your soul apart!“.

monstersquad

The Monster Squad (1987): Written by Shane Black and Fred Dekker, directed by Fred Dekker. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Gill Man, and The Mummy try to take over the world by taking possession of a scared amulet. But a group of young kids known as ‘The Monster Squad’ team up to take on the classic monsters.

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The classic Universal movie monsters are back in this wonderful Goonies-eque style family friendly action/horror/comedy. Really not so much of a horror film (compared to other films I have listed) but more of a horror themed movie the whole family can enjoy. It just puts such a huge smile on my face to see the classic Universal monsters still being used and in such a fun way too, and that is the best way to describe this flick… fun. There are some great gags here along with plenty of (mild) scary scenes. If you have kids, then sit down with them and watch this one. While mainly aimed at a younger audience, there’s still plenty for the older horror fan to find here with jokes, references, etc that will keep you more than entertained. And remember, this is the film that taught us that “wolfman’s got nards.

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The Lost Boys (1987): From director Joel Schumacher comes this teenage take on the vampire lore. A mother and her two sons move to a small coast town in California. The youngest son, Sam meets the Frog brothers who claim the town is being taken over by vampires.

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This film just proves how shit other teenage vampire moives really are… mentioning no Twilight, I mean names. A film of its age that is somehow ageless at the same time, the word ‘classic’ does not does this movie justice. There are some great scary scenes, but all through the picture there is a fun sense of humour. A particular highlight is Barnard Hughes who plays Grandpa who rounds of a great cast including; Dianne Wiest, Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman and Kiefer Sutherland. The title comes form the Lost Boys of Neverland, from Peter Pan. The film is topped off with a beautiful and memorable soundtrack. Modern vampires done justice creating on the best vampire pictures ever made.

shiryonowana

Shiryô no wana (1988): AKA; Evil Dead Trap is another Japanese horror film directed by Toshiharu Ikeda. A TV station host, Nami comes across a strange video tape. The tape appears to be a real snuff film and Nami along with her TV crew decide to investigate the location where the tape was filmed only to find themselves caught in a gory nightmare.

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Yes more Japanese horror and this one is brutally, bloody, brilliant. The flick feels very Argento-esque in many ways, its not shy with the gore and its plot is as basic as it can get. Yet the whole package just works and doesn’t fail to entertain and horrify along the way. The death scenes are graphic, gory and gruesome (there is a particular ‘eye opening’ opening) as the victims are dispatched of in pretty creative ways. The film’s plot is pretty formulaic and ‘slasher’ like and you’ll be correctly second guessing where this film is going… until, the last act where things go a little ‘weird’ and even almost ‘Cronenbergian’ and accumulates into a brilliant conclusion.

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Society (1989): Brian Yuzna is sitting in the director chair for this one. Teenager Bill Whitney feels as if he doesn’t quite fit in, even among his own family. He is given a disturbing tape that may prove incest within his family that involves a weird society. Bill then decides to try to uncover the mystery of this society that seem to be in control.

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To say this film is weird is a massive understatement. Its beyond bizarre, its in a world of its own. It feels Cronenberg-esque, but even I don’t think he would go this far. The effects work is both disgusting and beautiful and with effects by a guy called; Screaming Mad George, what do you expect? I think the film is trying to make some kind of social comment on the soullessness of the upper classes but at the same time, the movie never takes itself seriously at all. There are some pretty disturbing and hard to watch scenes as the picture builds to a 20 minute climax dubbed ‘The Shunting’ that will stick in your subconscious and never leave.

Well that is the end of the 80s in my Incomplete History of Horror and what a strange and wonderful journey it has been. In part VI, I’ll take a look at the 90s as horror films try to be clever.

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Terminator 2 is not a good sequel

That’s got the blood boiling of pretty much any Terminator 2 fan eh?

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Well this is my 100th post on this blog (Have I really written 100 pointless articles?). So may as well piss off as many Terminator 2 fans as possible.

But I do stand by what I say. The film often regarded as “the best sequel ever” really is a bad sequel.
But before I do elaborate on why its a bad sequel, allow me to remember the film that started the franchise.

T1

The Terminator: I actually wanted to cover this film for Halloween as its one of my all time favourite horror films ever made.
Yes I did write horror there because it is a horror film and more accurately it falls into the slasher flick sub-genre of horror film. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the staples that are considered when talking about slasher films…

Stalker type villain? The Terminator.
Villain often masked or disguised? The Terminator is a robot covered in living tissue.
Feeble female lead that overcomes the stalker? Sarah Connor.
POV shots from the villain? Plenty of those in this film.
The virgin that has sex and dies shortly after? Kyle Reese after being with Sarah.
The police are useless? The police in this film do nothing to help Sarah and end up being massacred.
After being defeated the villain still comes back? After being blown up by Kyle, the Terminator still goes after Sarah.

Okay, I think we have enough parallels there. But as you can see, The Terminator follows the slasher film formula pretty closely.
Also, it was a low budget film made by a lot of inexperienced crew mainly on their first film.
Just like Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday The 13th…and so on.

Anyway, The Terminator is an amazing film. Well crafted with believable lore and deep/interesting characters. Shame the same can not be said about Terminator 2.

Fire

So why is Terminator 2 a bad sequel?
Well a good sequel is one that takes everything the last film did and continues the fore-mentioned lore, it builds on the previous film and adds more depth to the characters. Terminator 2 does not do this.

My problems with Terminator 2 vary from gaping plot holes, terrible dialogue to poor scripting, inconsistent writing and just plain insulting the original film.
With so many problems, its hard to pick a starting point.

Let’s begin with the biggest plot hole of the entire film…

1) Nothing dead can use the Time Displacement Equipment (TDE). This is a rule explained and shown to be true in the first film, this is why both the Terminator and Kyle are sent back naked and why no future weapons are sent either. All this is explained and shown to be true. The T-1000 in Terminator 2 is nothing but dead material, it can not use the TDE, it can not be in the past. None of the events of Terminator 2 can happen given established in-universe rules.
Now some people claim that the T-1000 can mimic human flesh and that is why it can use the TDE, except it can’t. We know it can’t mimic human flesh as we are told it can’t mimic anything complex and human flesh is pretty damn complex. Plus when you see the T-1000 get shot in the film, there is no human tissue there its pure liquid metal. So within the opening minutes of this film already contradicts the rules established in the first film.

2) Why is there another Arnie Terminator in the film? Yes they are mass produced in a factory…but why would Skynet even build more T-800 (the robot) Model 101 (the skin) when the reason provided in the first film for the creation of the new T-800 is due to the fact the previous machine, the T-600 had rubber skin and was (quote) “easy to spot”?
Surely if Skynet is aware its T-600 units are “easy to spot” leading to Skynet creating the more advanced T-800 with living tissue. It would not make multiples of that same unit that look identical as it would be “easy to spot”, in fact easier to spot than the T-600 the T-800 was built to replace, making the existence of the T-800 redundant.

3) Why is the T-1000 naked when being sent through the TDE (which it can’t do anyway)? We know why the T-800 and Kyle had to be sent through naked as nothing dead will go, so they can’t wear clothing. But the T-1000 can mimic clothing as the film shows us. Skynet is aware clothing is important as the first thing the T-800 does in the first film when it gets sent back is acquire clothing, that is also what it does in Terminator 2. So clearly obtaining clothing is something programmed into the machines and obviously important.
So why is the T-1000 naked? Default appearance is often the excuse, but let’s look at my next point…

4) The T-1000 is supposed to be an infiltration unit. Designed and programmed to blend in. It can only mimic what it touches. So if being naked is its default appearance…would that not stand our when it was trying to infiltrate?
Picture the scene, war ravaged world where humans fight for survival against its AI oppressors. People are dying all around and through the smoke walks a completely naked male figure that is designed to blend in. Does not work does it? Why would a naked form even be part of the T-1000s programming?

5) Lets just go back to the first film and its exposition for a second. Kyle: “Its defence grid was smashed, Skynet had already lost” and “Its just him (T-800) and me, nothing else comes through. Nuff said.
So why is there a sequel and why are more terminators being sent if we have already been told this can not happen?

6) Why doesn’t the T-800 kill any of the bikers in the bar scene? We know it is programmed to kill as the scene with the two guys that come to help John shows later in the film.
John: “You we’re gonna kill that guy.”
T-800: “Of course, I’m a terminator.”
See, it is programmed to kill, but only roughs up the people in the bar. Now remember that bar scene? The T-800 is attacked, its mission is being hindered. That very same make and model terminator killed for much less in the first film, remember the clerk in the gun store? He was killed just for telling the terminator it couldn’t load the gun in the shop. But in Terminator 2, the same make and model kills no one despite being stabbed with a knife and attacked with a pool cue?
Even more so within Terminator 2 itself, that same machine was willing to kill the guy coming the HELP John later in the film, but not kill anyone in the bar that were getting into the way of its mission? The terminator would have left a trail and been traced if it killed people in the bar…maybe. But wouldn’t roughing people up in front of dozens of witnesses, stealing clothing, a motorbike and even guns also leave a trail?

7) If Skynet is supposed to be this amazing, militaristic thinking piece of AI. Why didn’t it send the more advanced T-1000 back to 1984 and the events of the first film when Sarah was more vulnerable and unaware? In fact seeing as Skynet can send multiple units through the TDE as this film proves (which contradicts the first film), why didn’t it send an army of terminators through to kill Sarah/John to ensure it would win?

8) Why doesn’t the T-1000 fully mimic the cop in the opening? We know it can fully mimic people as the film itself shows us. But instead of fully mimicking the cop, it just mimics the uniform (more on this issue later). Wouldn’t a person walking around in a police uniform that is numbered while also driving a police car that is also numbered not be a little bit suspicious? What if a fellow cop that knew the original cop recognised the uniform/cop car number and realised the person using them was not the cop they knew?
So instead of the T-1000 just mimicking the cop and passing itself off as him, we now have a missing cop and a strange man wearing his uniform and using his car. The T-1000 is supposed to be an infiltration unit remember.

9) The T-1000 can only mimic things of equal size. The cop uniform is not equal size, nor is John’s foster mother or the guard at the hospital as you see the size difference as the T-1000 morphs. Speaking of the hospital, it mimics the hospital floor and you can bet your arse that is most definitely not equal size. So it can mimic things not of equal size then?

10) John asks the T-800 to swear not to kill, but why? The machine has no concept of human rules and I can prove it.
John: “You can’t just go around killing anyone.”
T-800: “Why?”
John: “You just can’t.”
T-800: “Why?”
John: “You just can’t OK?”
See, the T-800 does not understand human rules to the point it doesn’t understand why it can’t kill…so why would asking it swear not to kill mean anything to the machine? John never explains what swearing means or its importance/meaning to humans. All the T-800 does is parrot John by holding up his hand and swearing not to kill, its programming remains the same and it is programmed to kill remember. So given what we have learned through the exposition of the film, there is no reason for the Terminator not to kill.
But just to add to the pointlessness of the “swearing” scene. Just minutes earlier we, the audience and John learn that the T-800 has to follow his orders, so why didn’t John just order the machine not to kill?

11) On the subject of John’s orders having to be followed by the T-800. Let’s skip to the end if the film and when the T-800 is lowered into the molten steel. What is it that John says again? Ahhhhh yes…
John: “I order you not to go, I order you not to go.”
Well there you have it, the T-800 can’t “die” as John just ordered it not to. But wait, what does the T-800 reply with?
T-800: “I’m sorry John, I can’t do that.”
Wait, what?
So now it doesn’t have to follow John’s orders, since when can it do that? If it can choose to not follow his orders then why did it break mission parameters by taking John into direct danger earlier in the film risking the mission just because John orders it to? What danger am I taking about? Next point.

12) Why would the more mature future resistance leader John allow the T-800 to follow his younger, immature self’s orders?
What if that immature version of himself orders the T-800 to rescue his mother, who we are told is not a mission priority and therefore breaking it mission parameters and taking John into direct danger putting huge risk onto the mission?
Wouldn’t it make more sense for the T-800 to be programmed to follow the more knowledgeable and prepared Sarah’s orders?

13) Another thing about the ending that makes no sense. The T-1000 stabs Sarah and asks her (quite eloquently too) to “call to John.” Why would it do this when we know it can mimic people? Even more so we are told in the film that the T-1000 typically kills whoever it mimics. So why didn’t the T-1000 just kill and mimic Sarah, get close to John and then kill him. Mission complete.
“It glitches, that’s why it can’t mimic Sarah” is the usual response. Yes it does glitch…in the extended cut, but not so much the theatrical cut and the one most familiar to everyone. But even if we go the glitch route excuse. The T-1000 still manages to mimic Sarah as the film proves later anyway. So the whole “call to John” bit is inane.

14) About that extended cut. There is a scene included where the T-800 has its chip removed so it can learn. From a filming perspective, its a great scene that features a mirror image with 2 T-800s, 2 Sarahs and 2 Johns. The amazing thing about this scene is the fact no mirror was used nor were any special effects either. Its a great shot done so using a simple magic trick. Brilliantly filmed…but from a plot and character perspective is makes no sense.
So the T-800 allows its chip to be removed and therefore is taken offline, meaning its no longer capable of doing its mission. Why would the T-800 let the happen? What if the T-1000 turned up while it’s chip was removed?
Plus its chip is removed so a physical switch can be moved to allow it to learn. So Skynet built a machine with a switch that has to be manipulated physically for it to learn, meaning if Skynet ever sent one of these units out not to learn but then changed it mind later and wanted it to learn. It would have to recall that unit to manually remove the chip and change the switch?
But maybe there are two ways to change the switch, one manual and one remotely. Maybe there is, but if the switch can be changed remotely then why would Skynet even bother with a manual switch to begin with?
Then if this particular T-800 switch is not set to learn (hence the need to remove the chip)…then how had it been learning anything up to this point in the film. Like swearing not to kill for example?

15) The Terminator actually fails in its mission in the end. Remember it is programmed to protect John. By the end if the film, the T-1000 is destroyed but John is still in danger and in need of protection. He and Sarah are still being hunted by the police for example.
So effectively, the T-800 abandons its mission at the end as John was still in danger. Mission failed.

16) Sarah is often cited as being a strong female character in Terminator 2…but is she really?
Let’s look at her key scenes.
Escaping the hospital. Yeah she does well here and gets quite far. But then she falls on her arse and has to be rescued by the big, muscle bound male hero.
Taking out Dyson. All Sarah has to do is kill Miles Dyson and Skynet never exists, she has him dead bang, all she has to do is squeeze the trigger. Then the males show up to show her the error of her ways as a woman can’t make decisions and its the male that has to step in.
Blowing up Cyberdyne. They all get rushed by the SWAT team and Sarah gets cornered and who is it that comes to save her, that same big, muscle bound male hero.
The helicopter chase. She holds her own for a while here until she takes a round in the shoulder and yet again its the big, muscle bound male hero that steps in by suddenly breaking in the SWAT van they are using causing the helicopter to crash. But he couldn’t do that before Sarah is shot?
Sarah is the one that shoots the at the T-1000 inching it closer and closer to the molten steel to meet its doom and then…she runs out of ammo and the big, muscle bound male hero is the one that comes along to save the girl…again.
I honestly fail to see how Sarah is considered a strong female character in this film when she has to be saved by the male hero every single time. She is nothing more than a set up to make the male hero look good. She’s the cliché damsel in distress…but with a gun.

17) The dialogue in this film is cringe worthy. Let’s look at some of the dialogue from both films and compare.
The Terminator: “It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”
Terminator 2: “Chill out dick-wad.”
The Terminator: “You still don’t get it, do you? He’ll find her! That’s what he does! That’s ALL he does! You can’t stop him! He’ll wade through you, reach down her throat and pull her fuckin’ heart out!”
Terminator 2: “I need a vacation.”
The Terminator: “John Connor gave me a picture of you once. I didn’t know why at the time. It was very old, torn, faded. You were young like you are now. You seemed just a little sad. I used to always wonder what you were thinking at that moment. I memorized every line, every curve… I came across time for you, Sarah. I love you; I always have.”
Terminator 2: “Hasta la vista, baby.”
Notice how the first film has beautifully written descriptive dialogue that furthers the plot, notice how T2 is full of inane catchphrases?

Smile

My fingers tire with the many, many problems Terminator 2 has so I’ll end it here…but there are plenty more problems with this film.

Do I “hate” Terminator 2?
Not at all, it is a good dumb popcorn flick and its directed brilliantly. But its a terrible sequel and even an insult to the original film. Its a superfluous and shallow picture and full of dull, terrible, lazy writing and horrendous plot holes.
I have to wonder if James Cameron even paid attention to the first film when he made this “sequel”?

I think one of my biggest problems with Terminator 2 is how much of a waste they made Sarah Conner. She should have been the central character in the film and not pushed to the back burner to help inflate Arnie’s (at the time) huge star power.
Let me give an example;
Sarah is the main conduit between the films. She listened to Kyle in the first film, she watched the police interview tape, she knows the rules. So why is she not the one asking the T-800 plot specific questions like; how can the T-1000 use the TDE, why is there another T-800 Model 101?
Even more so, there is a perfect time within the film to have had such a scene. Like when they are driving through the desert. But instead James Cameron chose to have John teach the T-800 pointless catchphrases, because that is more important than the plot right?

crap talk

Terminator 2 is an iconic film, it is a classic…but it not a very good sequel.

You want style over substance?
Terminator 2 is a prime example. Its the best Michael Bay film he never made.

If The Terminator didn’t exist then Terminator 2 would be a fine film in its own right…but The Terminator does exist and Terminator 2 comes off as a lazy and pointless effort.

Many people say the franchise died with Terminator 3, I say it was all over when the credits of the first film rolled.

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The Terminator Part III.

T-800 concept

Hello and welcome to my final part of my Terminator retrospective.
Here I will just highlight the (as yet) unreleased Terminator Genisys and just offer my personal views on the films so far.

T 5 poster

Terminator Genisys: So here we are, the fifth film in the franchise and of course a fifth production company. Seriously, what is with this franchise and bankrupting production companies? Now, Skydance Productions productions throw their hat in in an attempt to resurrect the franchise. Only they have the advantage of bringing iconic star Arnold Schwarzenegger back…well he did tell us.

The premise sounds quite interesting. With the idea being that the film is set in an alternate timeline. A previous attempt was made on Sarah Connor’s life by sending back a terminator to target Sarah as a child. But the Resistance also sent back a protector in the form of a T-800 Model 101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) which has raised Sarah when her parents were killed by the terminator sent back to kill her.
With Kyle Reese being sent back to find himself in an altered past due to the previous attempt on Sarah’s life. This film is part sequel, part reboot, part remake with the original T-800 from The Terminator (1984) making a return along with the older version of a T-800 that raised Sarah and even the return of the T-1000 as well as a new enemy…John Connor himself who has been turned into a nanotechnological human-cyborg hybrid, the T-3000.

The film seems to be mixing The Terminator with Terminator 2: Judgement Day all with a new twist.

My expectations of the film are quite low however. But I’m just looking forward to seeing an enjoyable action romp…or it could be a beautiful train wreck. With an all new cast playing the old parts with the exception of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’m not sure what to expect.
I’ll find out come July this year when Terminator Genisys is released.

Poking around I also found out that Terminator Genisys is intended to be the first part of a new trilogy (Hey, so was Terminator Salvation and look how that turned out), but along with two other films in the pipeline a new TV show is also in the works. With everything expected to be released by 2019 which is only 4 years away. But why 2019, why the big rush to get three new films and a TV show? Well after digging around I found out that copyright law after 35 years has to return to the creator. Which means by 2019, James Cameron (or should that be Harlan Ellison?) will become sole owner of the Terminator franchise, hence the rush to get out as much Terminator content as possible in 4 years.

So that is every film in the Terminator franchise so far. Despite my low expectations, I’m still looking forward to Terminator Genisys.
That is manly as my overall expectations of the franchise is low to begin with. As a franchise, I really do not think much of Terminator…

As I sat through all four films to do this retrospective. I may as well offer my personal views of the films today.

The Terminator: Still one of my all time favorite films. It was low budget and made by very inexperienced people from it’s actors, writers and even director. But it was and still is one hell of a great ride. A near perfect melding of Sci-Fi, Horror, Thriller, Action and even a Love Story. The Terminator is a wonderful, dark and yet beautiful journey and in my personal opinion, this film should have been the beginning and end as everything important is covered.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Often cited as “the best sequel ever” with many even claiming it far superior to the original…not me. I honestly find T2 to be a lazy and superfluous mess of a film and marked the downfall of the series for me. It’s overblown with very little heart and a perfect example of “style over substance”. Yet I adored this film when it was first released, even recall the first time I went to see it at the cinema with my oldest friend Paul (big truck) and could talk of nothing but T2 for weeks, even brought some offical T2 sunglasses. But watching the film now as an adult, I think the film is a horrible sequel and should never had been made…yes I said it. T2 is the reason my expectations for the franchise are so low now. “Best sequel ever”? Not for me.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: Pretty much a carbon copy of T2. The “cat n’ mouse” chase is back as is the now more advanced terminator going up against the reprogrammed older T-800 (or T-850 in this case). T3 also had some just plain terrible “humor” from the “talk to the hand” bit to the T-800 wearing those star-shades. T3 did a hell of a lot wrong… but it also did quite a lot right. The nice twist of the T-850 that is sent back is not there to protect John Connor really, but is sent back to protect his future wife Kate and even reveals that it was in fact that exact same make and model terminator that eventually kills John in the future. I also very much loved the bleak but appropriate and emotive ending. T3 was also a disappointment, but I have to say I enjoyed it more than T2…or I enjoyed it more because of T2.

Terminator Salvation: Could have been so much more. In all honesty, if I really wanted a sequel to The Terminator, I would have much prefered something more in the same vein as Terminator Salvation. With it being set after the war and telling the relationship between John Connor and Kyle Reese. If they had made this back in the late 80’s early 90’s with James Cameron attached, it could have been amazing. Being part sequel and prequel at the same time. But Terminator Salvation as it is, it’s a chore to sit through, while not a terrible film at all…but it really feels very “TV” and offers too little too late. The only part of the film I really enjoyed was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “pseudo-cameo”.

Terminator Genisys: Obviously yet to be released. But as I have said, my expectations are low for this one. But as long as I’m entertained by an inane action flick I’d be happy as the franchise for me died with the release of T2 anyway.

So there is are my views on the four Terminator films and the cinematic franchise.
I know there was also a TV show called; Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. But I never really got into it. There is also a comic book series that has terminators crossing paths with Robocop, Alien and Predator and even Superman…yes Superman vs The Terminator exists in the form of Superman vs. The Terminator: Death to the Future. Along with several stand alone comic book series as well as a series based on and inspired by T2 & T3.
There have also been novelisations of the films along with many, many videogame tie ins.

The Terminator is a big franchise indeed, but for me there is really only one film.

Thanks for reading my retrospective look at The Terminator franchise.

Ill be back

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The Terminator Part II.

Welcome back to my look back on The Terminator franchise, where I’ll cover the last two (as of writing) Terminator films in the franchise.

After the runaway success of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, everyone thought that would be the end of the series. But it seems those darn terminators were not done yet and would rise once again.

T3 poster

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: Coming hot off the heels after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was released just 12 years after the previous film in 2003. But this time, gone are James Cameron and Linda Hamilton with only Arnold Schwarzenegger returning. Written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris, directed by Jonathan Mostow.

Now living off the grid, John Connor has lost his mother to leukemia. Judgment Day did not occur on August 29 1997 as the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day prevented it. However, John still believes that war between humans and the machines could still come about.
Unable to locate John in the past, Skynet sends a new more advanced model of terminator back to 2004 called the T-X. The T-X is programmed to hunt down and kill other members of the human resistance lead by John Connor in the future. The T-X has an endoskeleton with built-in weaponry, a liquid metal exterior similar to the T-1000, and the ability to reprogram other machines. Also of note, this is the first terminator that utilizes a female appearance.
As in T2, the resistance send back a reprogrammed and this time upgraded T-800 in the form of a T-850 terminator that is programmed to protect the T-X’s targets including John’s future wife and second-in-command in the future resistance, Kate Brewster.

With a budget of $187.3 million, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was not only the most expensive film in the franchise so far but also the most expensive film ever made at the time.
T3 would also go on to be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s final starring role before his becoming Governor of California until his 2013 film The Last Stand 10 years later.
Linda Hamilton was asked to reprise her role as Sarah Connor for this film but turned the offer down. Linda said after reading the script and finding her character was to be killed off before halfway through the film, she felt Sarah had become “disposable”.

James Cameron even tried to get his own T3 project off the ground in the mid 90’s but never finished a script. Then Terminator 2: Judgment Day developer Carolco Pictures went bankrupt. Assets included 50% of the Terminator franchise rights, as the other 50% remained with the producer of the original Terminator, Gale Anne Hurd. James Cameron and 20th Century Fox had some interest in making T3, even arranging meetings with Gale Anne Hurd regarding her share of the franchise and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to return in the starring role. Eventually budgetary concerns and Cameron’s troubled post-production of Titanic for 20th Century Fox lead them to back out of the plans.
Carolco founders Mario Kassar and Andrew G. Vajna purchased the rights to the franchise for $7.5 million, and then later also got Gale Anne Hurd’s half of the franchise to become full owners of the Terminator franchise. They then founded a new company named C2 Pictures which produced T3.

Even at the time, it was unsure whether Arnold Schwarzenegger would return as the film had been in development hell for years and Arnold had turned his interests to politics. Plus with James Cameron pulling out of the project, Arnold felt it wrong to return to the character James created without him. Still after talking to James Cameron and taking his advice of accepting “nothing less than $30 million.”, Arnold eventually put his political career on hold to make T3.

T3 met with generally positive reviews at the time but just could not beat or even match the praise for the previous installment, T2. Making $433.3 million at the box office worldwide, T3 was considered a success.

Three films in and three different production companies. While the films were all successful so far, there seemed to be some kind of trouble following the franchise around as each production company that made a Terminator film eventually went bankrupt.
It was even doubtful another film in the franchise would happen…but would there be salvation in the future?

T4 poster

Terminator Salvation: The fourth film in the franchise so that means a fourth production company for the film. This time it was The Halcyon Company crack at the whip with the Terminator franchise, with John Brancato and Michael Ferris taking on writing duties and Joseph McGinty “McG” Nichol directing. This time none of the cast from the previous films return not even iconic star Arnold Schwarzenegger…technically speaking.

Now set in 2018, almost fourteen years after Judgment Day. John Connor leads the Resistance to attack a Skynet base, where he discovers human prisoners and schematics for a new type of Terminator (the T-800 Model 101). John is the only survivor of the assault on Skynet after the base is destroyed in a nuclear explosion.
Later, the Resistance discovers a radio signal believing it to be sending an order to shut down Skynet machines. The Resistance plan to launch an offensive against the Skynet base in San Francisco, in response to an intercepted “kill list” created by Skynet with a plan to kill the Resistance command staff. John learns he is second on the list, following Kyle Reese. The Resistance leaders are unaware of Kyle’s importance, but John knows Kyle will eventually go back in time to 1984 and become his father.

Originally convinced to be a fresh start and a new trilogy of films with Terminator Salvation being the starting point of a series set in and around the future war. Terminator Salvation met with below average reviews and critical acclaim, effectively putting an end to the new trilogy concept. Also the fact that the production company, The Halcyon Company filed for bankruptcy in 2009 (that’s four out of four) didn’t help much either.

With an estimated budget of around $200 million, but box office returns of only $371.3 million, Terminator Salvation was the most expensive and yet least profitable of the franchise so far.
Reviews are average at best but the film became more infamous for Christian Bale’s angry rant at director of photography Shane Hurlbut. Which is probably more well known, thanks to the interwebs than the film itself.

Terminator Salvation seemingly buried the Terminator franchise once and for all…or did it?

That just about warps up part II of my retrospective look at the Terminator franchise and all the cinematically released films to date.
In part III I will take a quick look at upcoming sequel/reboot; Terminator Genisys and offer my own views on the films and franchise so far.

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