The Terminator

The Terminator ★★★★★

Let's get this out of the way: Between this and its great sequel, I prefer the original. Yet, a comparison is almost pointless. While T2 is this well-oiled machine of an action movie, The Terminator is an 80s slasher movie - horny roommate included.

This film works as a high concept sci-fi horror film and is also able to fuel existentialist fears. Its small scale makes the prospect of this bleak future feel even more oppressive and inevitable. The dread is further conveyed by the cinematography. They somehow managed to make L.A. look like the filthy New York City of Taxi Driver.

You could nitpick the hell out of it: Arnie's glittery jacket, the cheesy synth score, that terrible opening text, Sarah's hairdo drives me nuts! But Cameron excels where it matters. The little details like naming the club Technoir: Perfect. Reese's flashbacks ending with him in mortal danger being left unresolved: Perfect. Schwarzenegger's commitment to portraying the ultimate killing machine: Perfect!

The fact that this was made in the pre-digital age gives me comforting shivers down my spine.

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