Directed by James Cameron
Produced by Gale Anne Hurd
Written by James Cameron
Gale Anne Hurd
William Wisher Jr.
Music by Brad Fiedel
Cinematography: Adam Greenberg
Editing by Mark Goldblatt
Casting by Stanzi Stokes
Art Direction by George Costello
Set Decoration by Maria Rebman Caso
Costume Design by Hilary Wright
Makeup Department Head: Jeff Dawn
Hair Stylist: Peter Tothpal
Supervising Sound Editor: David Campling
Special Effects Supervisor: Gene Warren Jr.
Graphic Effects Animator: Ernest D. Farino
Stunt Coordinator: Ken Fritz
Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator
Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese
Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor
Paul Winfield as Lieutenant Ed Traxler
Lance Henriksen as Detective Hal Vukovich
Earl Boen as Dr. Peter Silberman
Bess Motta as Ginger Ventura
Rick Rossovich as Matt Buchanan
Bill Paxton as Punk Leader
Brian Thompson as Punk
Brad Rearden as Punk
Dick Miller as Pawnshop Clerk
Marianne Muellerleile as Wrong Sarah
Shawn Schepps as Nancy
Chino 'Fats' Williams as Truck Driver
Bruce M. Kerner as Desk Sergeant
Stan Yale as Derelict in Alley
Ed Dogans as Cop in Alley
Hettie Lynne Hurtes as TV Anchorwoman
John E. Bristol as Biker at Phone Booth
Franco Columbu as Future Terminator
Norman Friedman as
Flophouse Cleaning Man
Bill W. Richmond as Bartender
William Wisher Jr. as
Cop burned by the Terminator
Ken Fritz as Policeman
Tom Oberhaus s Policeman
Joe Farago as TV Anchorman
Tony Mirelez as Gas Station Attendant
Philip Gordon as Mexican Boy
Anthony Trujillo as Mexican Boy
Al Kahn as Customer
Leslie Morris as Customer
Hugh Farrington as Customer
Harriet Medin as Customer
Loree Frazier as Customer
James Ralston as Customer
Barbara Powers as
Club Technoir Ticket Taker
Wayne Stone as Tanker Driver
David Pierce as Tanker Partner
Webster Williams as Reporter
Patrick Pinney as Bar Customer
Gregory Robbins as Tiki Motel Customer
John Durban as Sentry
J. Randolph Harrison as Policeman
Randy Harrison as Policeman
Darrell Mapson as
Bar patron at pay phone with Sarah
John Stuart West as MacDougal
Academy of Science Fiction,
Fantasy & Horror Films 1985:
Saturn Award Best Make-Up
Best Science Fiction Film
Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival 1985:
By Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide
As relentless as the taciturn titular villain, The Terminator (1984) established James Cameron as a master of action, special effects, and quasi-mythic narrative intrigue, while turning Arnold Schwarzenegger into the hard-body star of the 1980s.
With a budget well under $10 million, Cameron created a dystopic, trashed future world ruled by sinister robots, before returning to a darkly ominous 1984 Los Angeles where Schwarzenegger's leather-clad cyborg fits right in.
Like the adversaries in Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982), the Terminator, with his computer matrix vision, embodied 1980s technological anxiety, an implacable, human-looking assassin engineered by machines and empowered through nuclear holocaust.
Schwarzenegger's pumped-up physical presence, sparse dialogue, and "I'll be back" slyness rendered him both terrifying and charismatic; as with Sylvester Stallone, his body would become his signature special effect.
With a time-bending romance to temper the perpetual violence, The Terminator became a sleeper hit, powering Cameron, Schwarzenegger, and producer/co-writer Gale Anne Hurd to the forefront of Hollywood action movies.
As Schwarzenegger's image softened by the late 1980s, Cameron resurrected him as a "kinder, gentler" Terminator in the blockbuster sequel Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991).
January 1, 1984
The Terminator is a blazing, cinematic comic book, full of virtuoso moviemaking, terrific momentum, solid performances and a compelling story.
The clever script, cowritten by director James Cameron and producer Gale Anne Hurd, opens in a post-holocaust nightmare, A.D.2029, where brainy machines have crushed most of the human populace.
From that point, Arnold Schwarzenegger as the cyborg Terminator is sent back to the present to assassinate a young woman named Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) who is, in the context of a soon-to-be-born son and the nuclear war to come, the mother of mankind's salvation.
A human survivor in that black future (Michael Biehn), also drops into 1984 to stop the Terminator and save the woman and the future. The shotgun wielding Schwarzenegger is perfectly cast in a machine-like portrayal that requires only a few lines of dialog.
James Cameron originally envisioned the Terminator as a small, unremarkable man, giving it the ability to blend in more easily. As a result, his first choice for the part was Lance Henriksen. O. J. Simpson was on the shortlist but Cameron did not think that "such a nice guy could be a ruthless killer". According to him and co-writer William Wisher, Schwarzenegger was offered the role of the human soldier Reese.
However, they realized that he would be better suited as the Terminator, which as a result became large and muscular. Michael Biehn was also on the shortlist for the Terminator, and not the hero Kyle Reese. The idea of Schwarzenegger as the hero would be revisited for the sequel. Production was originally scheduled for Spring 1983 in Toronto, but after Dino De Laurentiis chose to option Schwarzenegger to film Conan the Destroyer, filming was delayed until March 1984 in Los Angeles.
Several scenes cut from the film are available on some DVD releases. The secondary police characters Vukovich and Traxler had several of their scenes cut, in one of which we see Traxler realize that Reese is right, and hand over his weapon as he dies. One particular scene, involving the destruction of Cyberdyne, inspired a very similar plot point in the sequel. In this scene, Sarah suggests to Reese that they find Cyberdyne Systems and destroy it before they can invent Skynet, preventing the war.
At the end of the film, when Sarah is being taken away by the ambulance, two factory workers find the remains of the Terminator and decide to turn it over to Research and Development, with the camera zooming out to reveal the name of the factory: Cyberdyne Systems. These two scenes set up major plot points in Terminator 2, where the CPU and arm from the Terminator in this film are reverse engineered and used to create Skynet, and where Sarah, John, and the Terminator blow up Cyberdyne to prevent the war.
Director James Cameron has said that The Terminator was inspired by two episodes of the 1960s television science fiction series The Outer Limits – "Soldier" and "Demon with the Glass Hand" – both written by science fiction author Harlan Ellison. When Ellison threatened a lawsuit, Terminator production company Hemdale Film Corporation and distributor Orion Pictures gave him an "acknowledgement to the works of" credit on video and cable releases of The Terminator, as well as a cash settlement of an undisclosed amount.
In addition to Harlan Ellison, other writers have been pointed to as possible sources of inspiration for The Terminator, such as Philip K. Dick. Critic Zack Handlen, reviewing Dick's 1953 short story "Second Variety", wrote: "Cameron’s lucky that Dick died two years before The Terminator was released, or he might have had another lawsuit on his hands." "Second Variety" was adapted to film in 1995 under the title Screamers, which also attracted comparisons to The Terminator.
The Terminator was a low-budget movie, at roughly $6.5 million, which turned out to be a box-office hit, earning $38,371,200 domestically. The film went on to gross more than $78 million worldwide. The film has received mostly positive reviews. On At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, Ebert gave the film "thumbs up" and described it as a very violent, sometimes sadistic, yet solid action picture. Siskel gave the film "thumbs down".
Currently, The Terminator has ratings of 100% and 84% positive on popular review aggregator websites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic respectively. The film was placed in Time Magazine's Top 10 Films of 1984. In 2001, The Terminator was ranked 42nd on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills. In 2005, Total Film named The Terminator the 72nd best film ever made. In 2008, The Terminator was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
By Janet Maslin | October 26, 1984
Arnold Schwarzenegger is about as well suited to movie acting as he would be to ballet, but his presence in ''The Terminator'' is not a deterrent. This is a monster movie, and the monster's role fits Mr. Schwarzenegger just fine. He plays the computerized automaton of the title, sent from the year 2029 back to 1984 to assassinate a young waitress named Sarah Connor.
Even if the movie had nothing else to recommend it, the sheer unlikeliness of this mission, and the teasing gradualness with which its meaning is revealed, would be enough to hold an audience's attention. ''The Terminator,'' which opens today at Loews State and other theaters, is a B-movie with flair. Much of it, as directed by James Cameron (''Piranha II''), has suspense and personality, and only the obligatory mayhem becomes dull.
There is far too much of the latter, in the form of car chases, messy shootouts and Mr. Schwarzenegger's slamming brutally into anything that gets in his way. Far better are the scenes that follow Sarah (Linda Hamilton) from cheerful obliviousness to the grim knowledge that someone horrible is on her trail. The denouement is convoluted, to say the very least.
But it is set forth engrossingly by Miss Hamilton and by Michael Biehn as another 21st-century warrior, this one actually on Sarah's side. Both he and Mr. Schwarzenegger's Terminator arrive in Los Angeles stark naked, and they must somehow find clothes, weapons and Sarah before they can begin to fight. Mr. Biehn is seen stealing pants from a drunk and shoplifting a combat jacket, which make him a most inferior fashion plate compared with the star.
Back before Arnold Schwarzenegger's ascendence to his current status as Hollywood's designated Action Hero of choice, husband to Kennedys, and buddy of presidents, he was still willing to play villains. As such he made an indelible impression as the titular character of The Terminator. This was the film that demonstrated to the dubious everyone that the musclebound fellow with that outrageous accent might be more than just another passing blip on our pop culture radar screens.
The sleeper hit of fall 1984, The Terminator is an intelligent, smoothly crafted, and stylish low-budget science fiction action movie that astounded fans of the genre. This was an enormous career booster for writer-director James Cameron (Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2) as well as stars Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton (TV's cult favorite "Beauty and the Beast" and Terminator 2).
The Terminator is an amazingly effective picture that becomes doubly impressive when one considers its small budget. Looking better than most big-budget efforts, it contains dozens of impressive visual effects, including some very good stop-motion animation. For our money, this film is far superior to its mega-grossing mega-budgeted sequel. This is fresh, exciting, and surprisingly witty viewing.
By Max Messier
The Terminator stands as a personal favorite. Schwarzenegger was in his prime in the 1980s -- in guilty pleasures like Commando, Raw Deal, Predator, Conan The Barbarian, and The Running Man. But he gave many kids my age something to hang on to during the Reagan years. Schwarzenegger was our generation's John Wayne, a muscle-bound bodyguard extracting his own kind of vengeance from a cold and dangerous world.
He was always the good guy, but it’s almost ironic that his first indelible impression on our minds was that of a killer robot from the future sent back in time to murder a hot coffee shop waitress. The Terminator was actually conceived from a dream that James Cameron had of a killer robot from the future that was sent to kill him. The ingeniousness of The Terminator is in giving us one of the most memorable and brilliant villains ever printed on celluloid.
The size of Schwarzenegger and his deadpan, monotone voice lends an unnerving edge to all of his sixteen lines of dialogue and all of the bodies he leaves in his wake as he hunts Sarah Connor. The relationship between the befuddled and frightened Sarah Connor and her unexpected savior/hero Kyle Reese is also a high point. Michael Biehn has never been better in the role that fully defined his career.
Cameron’s use of a love story underlying an action film -- which he would repeat in virtually all of his films from The Abyss to Titanic to True Lies -- makes it raw and emotional. The Terminator is a profound reminder that science fiction can entertain while working as a warning about the future.
By Dragan Antulov | 3½ stars out of 4
Science fiction fans are seldom satisfied with the way their favourite genre is used in films, especially those produced in Hollywood. More often than not filmmakers totally forget the meaning of "science" in the term "science fiction", and such films ignore basic scientific facts, as well as elementary logic. This is especially the case with time travel films.
Screenwriters of such films are more than eager to embrace the concept of time travel (which is rather controversial in the realm of established science), but they seldom pay attention to some mind-boggling issues associated with it, like Grandfather Paradox. Fortunately, there are few filmmakers ready to approach time travel with these problems in mind. One of them was young Canadian director James Cameron.
In 1984 he co-wrote and directed The Terminator, low-budget science fiction film that would launch one of the most spectacular careers in modern Hollywood and also become one of the most influential films of its time. Script for The Terminator, written by Cameron and his producer Gale Anne Hurd, was based on the original screenplay by Harlan Ellison.
Today most people think of James Cameron as Hollywood's greatest and most successful megalomaniac whose trademark is big budget of his movies. In 1984 the budget for his groundbreaking film was quite low, even for the standards of the time. However, even in such conditions, Cameron's talent of superb filmmaker became more than evident.
JAMES CAMERON ARTWORK
Writer/Director James Cameron is also an accomplished illustrator. He created images to show both the Hollywood studios and his production team exactly what he had in mind for the film. The gallery below are a few of his illustrations from the DVD extras.