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SCRIPT: "TERMINATOR" by James Cameron


TITLE SEQUENCE - SLITSCAN EFFECT

Schoolyard, night, silence. Gradually the sound of distant traffic becomes audible. A low angle bounded on one side by a chain-link fence and on the other by the one-story public school buildings. Spray-can hieroglyphics and distant streetlight shadows. This is a Los Angeles public school in a blue collar neighborhood. Angle between school buildings, where a trash dumpster looms in a low angle, part of the clutter behind the gymnasium.


A cat enters frame prowling through the landscape of trash receptacles and shadows. The cat freezes, alert, sensing something just beyond human perception. A sourceless wind rises, and with it a keening whine. Papers blow across the pavement. The cat yowls and hides under the dumpster. Windows rattle in their frames.

The whine intensifies, accompanied now by a wash of frigid purple light. A concussion like a thunderclap right overhead blows in all the windows facing the yard. Cat, its eyes are wide as the glare dies. Dumpster: electrical discharges arc from the dumpster to a water faucet and climb a drain pipe like a Jacob's Ladder. The sound of stray electrical crackling subsides.


Frame comes to rest on the figure of a naked man kneeling, faced away, in the previously empty yard. He stands, slowly. The man is in his late thirties, tall and powerfully built, moving with graceful precision. His facial features reiterate the power of his body and are dominated by the eyes, which are intense, blue and depthless.


His hair is military short. This man is the Terminator. He glances down, taking calm inventory of himself, and notices that a fine white ash covers his skin. He brushes at it unconcernedly as he walks toward the fence, scanning his surroundings.


Terminator approaches the schoolyard fence beyond which is an embankment rolling down in darkness to the cityscape below. The school is perched at the edge of a promontory offering a respectable view of the urban sprawl teeming and glistening under a sullen sky. The night clouds are shot through with occasional flashes of lightning, presaging a thunderstorm. Terminator stands, hands on hips in prefect symmetry, gazing down at the city as the camera reaches full height.


A beer bottle smashes on the ground. Pull back to include its ex-owner and his two compatriots, youth gang members, lounging on the jungle gym of a deserted playground. They sport nondescript punk regalia . . . torn T-shirts, fatigue pants, combat boots or high-top sneakers, leather jackets. The leader notices something and sits up.

Leader (pointing): Hey, hey . . . what's wrong with this picture?


Seen past the lounging toughs, Terminator walks naked into a pool of streetlight, striding purposefully toward them. Angle, over Terminator's shoulder, as he approaches them. They slide from their perches and drop easily to the ground like liquid shadows.

Leader: Nice night for a walk, eh?

Terminator stops right in front of them.

Terminator (without inflection): Nice night for a walk.


They surround him, all swagger and malign good humor.

Second punk: Washday tomorrow, huh? Nothing clean, right?

Terminator eyes them without expression, unhurried. Reptilian.

Terminator: Nothing clean. Right.

Leader: This guy's a couple bricks short.


Terminator turn to the second punk, ignoring the others.

Terminator: Your clothes. Give them to me.

The punks exchange glances, dismayed.

Terminator (coldly): Now.

Second punk (bracing): Fuck you, asshole.


Without warning Terminator hammer-punches him in the temple with blinding speed. The blow flings him with a clang into the jungle gym. He drops to the ground in a still heap, eyes open, twitching. The leader whips out his switchblade and slashes in one motion. Terminator ducks back and catches the knife-wielder's wrist in an inhuman grip. Then he punches the leader with piledriver force just below the breastbone.


Angle, pavement, as the knife clatters down. The punk's combat boots are on tiptoe, barely touching the ground. Angle, two shot, Terminator and the leader are close together as if dancing, but motionless. Their bodies are in total shadow. The punk's eyes are wide, his veins distended with an agonizing pressure. Terminator jerks his fist back with a wet sound and the other drops out of frame.


The last tough is stumbling away, gaping with terror. He backs into a chainlink fence, turns to run along it, finds he is in a corner. Terminator takes a step toward him, his gaze ominous. The punk begins shakily stripping off his clothes. Thunder peals overhead.




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