Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The real reason The Terminator should be a horror movie

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That’s right: The Terminator is a slasher flick, and it wasn’t alone in hitting screens in 1984. A whole slew of slashers dropped that year, and at least three of those were highly notable: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was the best entry of its entire series, Silent Night, Deadly Night caused a nationwide controversy while launching a profitable franchise, and A Nightmare on Elm Street reinvented the genre while launching an even more profitable (and much better) series.

“But Looper,” we can hear you saying, “You can’t peg The Terminator as a slasher flick just because it’s centered on a cold, emotionless killing machine who hardly says two words, can’t be stopped even when literally pumped full of bullets, and is single-mindedly focused on a specific target.” And yes, we can also hear you trailing off in stunned realization that you just made our first point for us. Schwarzenegger’s T-800 reminds us of nobody so much as Friday the 13th‘s Jason Voorhees, minus the hockey mask and with a preference for firearms over machetes. Midway through the film, Sarah’s protector, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) succinctly sums up the Terminator’s threat, and see if his words couldn’t just as easily apply to Mr. Voorhees: “That Terminator is out there. 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.”

For that matter, Reese himself manages to embody another slasher archetype: the guy who knows exactly what’s going on, but who is apparently so freakin’ crazy that nobody will listen to him (until it’s too late, of course). Then, there’s Sarah herself — a pretty excellent example of a trope so well-known that without it, a movie is pretty much disqualified from being called a slasher flick.

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