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The Terminator (1984) Poster

Trivia

Director Trademark 

James Cameron: [Biehn's hand] (at around 42 mins) Michael Biehn's character gets bitten on the hand by another character. See Aliens (1986) and The Abyss (1989).
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Jump to: Cameo (1)  | Director Cameo (1)  | Director Trademark (3)  | Spoilers (11)
Arnold Schwarzenegger worked with guns every day for a month to prepare for the role. The first two weeks of filming he practiced weapons stripping and reassembly blindfolded until the motions were automatic, like a machine. He spent hours at the shooting range and practicing with different weapons without blinking or looking at them when reloading or cocking. He also had to be ambidextrous. He practiced different moves up to 50 times. He wound up garnering a compliment in "Soldier of Fortune" magazine for his realistic handling of the guns on camera (whereas the magazine usually lampoons movies for their inaccurate depictions of weapons use).
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(at around 15 mins) In the beginning of the movie, The Terminator drives over a toy semi truck. Towards the end of the movie (at around 1h 26 mins), The Terminator is run over by the same model of semi truck.
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The beginning of production was postponed for nine months, due to Arnold Schwarzenegger's commitment to Conan the Destroyer (1984). During this time, James Cameron wanted to be working but didn't have the time to do a whole other film. He had a talk with some producers at 20th Century Fox who liked his screenplay for Terminator, and gave him a writing assignment; this turned out to be Aliens (1986). On the same day, he was also asked to write a script for Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985). While handling these two assignments, he also did additional work on his Terminator screenplay, writing each script at night at a different desk, in order to keep the projects apart. He calculated how many pages he had to write each night, by dividing the total number of pages by the number of waking hours per night. He said that he accomplished that by drinking lots of coffee, a habit that he finally kicked after completing Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).
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One afternoon during a break in filming, Arnold Schwarzenegger went into a restaurant in downtown L.A. to get some lunch and realized all too late that he was still in Terminator makeup - with a missing eye, exposed jawbone and burned flesh.
(at around 23 mins) Near the beginning of the movie, when Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) receives a message on her answering machine breaking her date, the voice on the machine is James Cameron's. Years later, Hamilton and Cameron got married and subsequently divorced.
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James Cameron got the idea of giving Arnold Schwarzenegger even fewer lines in the film than Schwarzenegger's earlier film Conan the Barbarian (1982), in which Schwarzenegger only had 24 lines. In this film, Schwarzenegger has only 14 lines.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to avoid Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn as much as possible since the Terminator was trying to kill them, not forming connections.
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O.J. Simpson was considered for the Terminator, but the producers feared he was "too nice" to be taken seriously as a cold-blooded killer. In 1990 (before Simpson's first trial) Dark Horse Comics printed issues using his likeness.
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In the film, the name of the night club where the Terminator first targets Sarah was named Tech Noir after a film genre which James Cameron coined himself in describing what category this film falls under after dismissing the notions that it was a mere horror or slasher film. Tech Noir films like Blade Runner (1982) and this film combine the old style grittiness of noir films with the futuristic elements of a sci-fi thriller. Cameron himself had the club built specifically for the film and had to turn away local club goers who thought Tech Noir was a real night club. The building still exists but is now a jewelry store.
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James Cameron's original story idea was much more elaborate, and involved Skynet sending two Terminators back in time: the first one was a cyborg that would be defeated by a human also sent back in time (the Resistance actually sent two men, but one was to die during the time travel). A second Terminator, one consisting of liquid metal that would be able to shape-shift, would be sent by Skynet in response (reluctantly, as it is so experimental that it may alter the past beyond Skynet's intentions). Cameron briefly considered clay-animation in dark shots to portray this shape-shifter, but he soon realized that the concept was too ambitious for what he could achieve with contemporary techniques. He also knew that his reputation at the time wasn't big enough to sell a story of such scope to a studio, so he used only the first half of it. When a completely computer-generated special effect proved to be a success in Cameron's The Abyss (1989), he revived the idea of the liquid Terminator for the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).
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Arnold Schwarzenegger was originally being considered to play Kyle Reese instead of the Terminator. The bodybuilder-turned-actor had made a name for himself in The Long Goodbye (1973), Pumping Iron (1977) and Conan the Barbarian (1982), and when Orion Pictures executive Mike Medavoy met the actor at a party, he sent him the script for consideration. James Cameron, however, had envisioned Reese as a non-bulky and more sensitive man, so he was less than enthusiastic about casting a former Mr. Universe in the pivotal role. Largely on Medavoy's insistence, he went out to meet and have lunch with Schwarzenegger anyway; he later admitted that he had planned to pick a fight with him, so that he could claim that the actor was impossible to work with. But against his expectations, they got along just fine, and Schwarzenegger showed great enthusiasm about the script in general, and its dark antagonist in particular, providing tips on how this villain should behave. It was then that Cameron had a change of heart, and offered Schwarzenegger the title role of The Terminator, saying that "this movie is not about the hero. It's about The Terminator." Schwarzenegger gladly accepted, even overruling his agent who advised him against playing villains. Cameron and Schwarzenegger have been good friends ever since.
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(at around 59 mins) Arnold Schwarzenegger's famous line, "I'll be back," was originally scripted as "I'll come back."
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James Cameron got the idea for the film during post-production of his previous film, Piranha II: The Spawning (1981), in Rome. Since he had been fired from the production, he had spent the last of his own money on the plane ticket to get there, hoping to be at least involved in the editing process. Without money for proper food, he became increasingly sick, and went to bed one night with high fever. He had a nightmare of a metal endoskeleton emerging from flames, dragging itself over the floor holding kitchen knives. When he woke up, he immediately made a drawing of this vision. Most of the script was written backwards from there: the endoskeleton would have to be futuristic, but since Cameron couldn't afford to set the film in the future, the solution was to bring the future to the present, hence the 'time travel' aspect of the script was written in. When special effects artist Stan Winston was brought in, he added a few more designs for the endoskeleton, but in the end they basically used the one that Cameron had drawn the first time.
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The initial draft for the movie was sold to Gale Anne Hurd, James Cameron's production partner and former collaborator at New World Pictures, for the price of only $1.00. The symbolic gesture came with a 'blood oath': Hurd had to promise to do everything in her power to get the film produced, but with Cameron as director. She kept her word, and dismissed every studio that showed interest but wanted to ditch Cameron. He and Hurd would get romantically involved during production of this movie, made Aliens (1986) and The Abyss (1989) together, and were married from 1985 to 1989 (they had separated by the time they made The Abyss).
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(at around 36 mins) Michael Biehn and Arnold Schwarzenegger are in the same frame together only once. It is when Kyle blasts The Terminator the second time at Tech Noir. When they finally meet in the factory, it is not Schwarzenegger, just a metallic puppet.
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The puppet of Arnold Schwarzenegger's face took six months to create.
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In James Cameron's original treatment, Sarah Connor has an old figure skating injury that was fixed with a couple of surgical pins, and the Terminator cut the legs open of the first two Sarah Connors to find this identifying mark. In the novelization of the story, the pins were instead inserted into her leg after it was broken during her final fight against the Terminator. SkyNet knew Sarah had surgical pins in her leg, but not when or why she got them. The Terminator was therefore looking for a sign of an injury she had not yet sustained.
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The Terminator is the only character to be listed in the American Film Institute's 100 Heroes and Villains as both a villain (for this film) and a hero (for Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)). Al Pacino and Arnold Schwarzenegger are the only two actors to be on the list as playing a villain and a hero, but Pacino played two different characters. 13 other actors and actresses appear twice or more but either all as heroes or all as villains.
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Michael Biehn almost didn't get the role of Kyle Reese because in his first audition he spoke in a Southern accent as a result of working on a part for a stage production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (he didn't get the role), and the producers didn't want Reese to seem regionalized. After a talk with Biehn's agent, the producers called Biehn back for another audition and he got the part.
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According to a 2008 interview with Lance Henriksen, James Cameron had no agent and was either living in his car or sleeping on the couch of a friend when he wrote the script for the film. Cameron had actually fired his agent because he didn't like the story idea Cameron had conceived for this film.
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(at around 1h 12 mins) The future terminator who infiltrates the human camp in the dream sequence is played by Franco Columbu, who is a multiple Mr. Olympia title winner like Arnold Schwarzenegger and is a close friend of his.
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Shots through the Terminator's vision shows a dump of the ROM assembler code for the Apple II operating system. If you own an Apple II, enter at the basic prompt: ] call -151 * p This will give you the terminator view. Other code visible is written in COBOL.
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(at around 58 mins) When The Terminator attacks Sarah in the police station, the cop states that there are "thirty police officers" in the station. If you count the cops that The Terminator kills on screen and the burst fire that he shoots for off screen kills, it adds up to thirty.
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(at around 1h 15 mins) The revolver Reese carries after the police station massacre and gives to Sarah at the motel is Lt. Traxler's. In a deleted scene, Reese and Sarah are trying to escape the police station when they come across the wounded Traxler. He now believes their story and gives Reese his sidearm, telling him to protect Sarah. Several other scenes were removed from the film that showed Traxler's increasing belief that Reese may be telling the truth.
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Science fiction author Harlan Ellison sued James Cameron, claiming that while he hugely enjoyed the film, he felt the story was plagiarized from the two The Outer Limits (1963) episodes that he had written, namely The Outer Limits: Soldier (1964) and The Outer Limits: Demon with a Glass Hand (1964). The concept of "Skynet" could also have been borrowed from an Ellison short story called "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream". The suit was settled out of court and newer prints of the film acknowledge Ellison. Cameron has claimed that this settlement was forced upon him by the producers, who refused to support him. He felt that Ellison made invalid and opportunistic claims, and wanted the case to go on trial. However, the insurance company told him that he would be held personally responsible for financial damages in the event that he lost the trial. Since he was short on money at the time, Cameron couldn't take the risk, so he had no choice but to accept the settlement, a fact that he has always resented.
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Mel Gibson turned down the role of the Terminator, simply feeling he wasn't right for the part. After seeing the film, he praised Arnold Schwarzenegger as a much better choice.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger's iconic catchphrase almost became "I will be back" because he thought it sounded more machine-like without a contraction; he also felt "I'll" sounded too feminine. It was the one major disagreement between Schwarzenegger and James Cameron, and all Cameron had to say to that was "I don't tell you how to act, so don't tell me how to write".
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Sarah Connor is 18 years old in the movie. This is proven in the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) where Dr. Silberman says Sarah is 29 years old and T-1000 checks Sarah son's, John Connor's, profile which states he's 10 years old, having been born when Sarah was 19.
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(at around 1h 23 mins) Kyle Reese smiles only once during the entire movie, when Sarah makes to playfully throw the bag of dynamite at him after their night of intimacy.
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The laser sight on the .45 Longslide was specially built by Laser Products Corporation (now Sure-Fire). This was in the early days of laser-aimed weapons and what was seen was actually not a complete assembly. Only the laser was mounted but the required battery pack was hidden from view. In those days the battery packs were very large, about the size of a TV remote control. A wire was hidden underneath Arnold Schwarzenegger's sleeve.
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The crew made T-shirts saying, "You can't scare me, I work for James Cameron."
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Arnold Schwarzenegger allegedly suggested that the advertising campaign play up the romantic subplot between Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese in order to appeal to a wider audience but his advice was ignored. The film proved surprisingly popular with women anyway.
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(at around 1h 15 mins) Wolfie, James Cameron's German Shepherd dog, can be seen at the Tiki Motel.
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The Terminator endoskeleton was very heavy and hard for Stan Winston's team to carry. They found out that building a prop robot out of metal is realistic, but not practical.
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Production company Hemdale was quick to step in and co-finance the movie, because director James Cameron and producer Gale Anne Hurd had already found Orion Pictures willing to provide part of the budget and distribute the movie. However, the relationship between Cameron and executive producer/Hemdale head John Daly deteriorated during post-production. According to Cameron, Daly and Orion executive Mike Medavoy (who had recommended Arnold Schwarzenegger to Cameron) wanted the film to end right after the tanker explosion, removing the climax at the robot factory and epilogue. Quoting from Cameron: "Daly said, 'The film has to end right after the tanker explosion.' I told him straight, 'F**k you! The film isn't over yet.'" Daly would ultimately back down, a decision that led to the sudden success of the film. However, Orion Pictures wanted to be known for its quality movies (like Amadeus (1984) and Platoon (1986)), and perceived this film as little more than a low budget sci-fi vehicle to make some quick money. Their advertising support for the film was minimal in Cameron's eyes. Three weeks after the film was released, Medavoy still ignored Cameron's request to beef up the film's ad-campaign: "They told me, when you have a dirty-down action thriller, the film can last in the box-office for about three weeks plus or so. They are treating the film like dog-s**t!" Hemdale ultimately raised money to fund more advertisements by the time that positive word-of-mouth from critics reached the studio. Reportedly, Schwarzenegger still holds a grudge towards Orion Pictures due to their lack of support.
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The teaser trailer for this film was narrated by Peter Cullen, best known to fans as the voice of the robotic hero Optimus Prime from Transformers.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger had his eyebrows insured at Lloyds of London as he feared that they might not grow back properly after he shaved them for the scene where he runs over a car on fire in the alley after the Tech Noir shootout.
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During production of Conan the Destroyer (1984), Arnold Schwarzenegger was interviewed about upcoming projects, and then referred to The Terminator as "some shit movie I'm doing, take a couple weeks". However, he has since recanted this statement, saying "It was wrong of me to judge the movie before I even got fully involved. James (James Cameron) created a fantastic character and while I was hesitant, I now know The Terminator is a defining work in my career."
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The movie was released in the late 1980s in Poland under the title "The Electronic Murderer". The title was changed because there is a Polish word 'terminator', meaning roughly 'an apprentice', and so the title was changed to something more catchy and interesting to audience. By the time Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) was released, the original movie was widely available on pirate copies under its original title, and because of it in the early 90s in Poland the word 'terminator' was widely recognized as the character played by Arnold Schwarzenegger instead of its original meaning, so all the sequels had their titles unaltered.
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James Cameron cited The Road Warrior (1981) as one of his influences behind "The Terminator".
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(at around 37 mins) A hydraulic arm was used when the Terminator punches through the windshield in the alley scene. This was rehearsed several times and since Arnold Schwarzenegger's face was in the shot too, it all had to be choreographed perfectly, since replacing a windshield was too costly and time consuming.
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(at around 12 mins) The scene where the Terminator breaks into a station wagon was the very last thing shot and it was added a few weeks before the film's release. The scene was filmed in 2 hours by James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger alone. Due to insufficient funds, Cameron had to pay for the scene himself, but could not afford a police permit. As such, another set of Arnold's clothes was placed behind the wagon trunk and Cameron told him to change the moment the scene was deemed finished.
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Sylvester Stallone was considered for The Terminator. Coincidentally, a year after, James Cameron and Stallone wrote Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) together. Also, there was a competition between Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger's success in action movies about who would win in a battle: Rambo or the Terminator. Stallone later worked with Arnold on the Expendables movies and Escape Plan (2013). In Last Action Hero (1993), a scene features a video store cardboard cut-out of Stallone as the Terminator.
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Though it is now considered a Sci-fi classic, this film was originally conceived and written as a horror movie. If you strip away the robots and time travel plot, it is very similar to a Slasher picture, and borrows many of the genre's tropes, most prominently from Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981). The Terminator is the movie's "Unstoppable Killer," who silently stalks an innocent woman, killing all of her loved ones until he is in turn killed off in a creative way. Sarah Connor is the movie's "Final Girl," who is strong enough to outsmart the killer and the only one to make it out alive. The end of the film also employs many of the Slasher genre's techniques and scare tactics. A final showdown in an isolated place where no one can help, crawling through tight, cramped, and dangerous spaces to escape, and the killer comes back for a "final scare" multiple times (Halloween II even ends with the killer getting blown up). That being said, in following these Slasher movie tropes, that makes the Terminator one of the few "Unstoppable Killers" of the genre to use firearms as his main weapon, and makes Sarah Connor one of the few "Final Girls" of the genre to have sex in the picture and make it out alive.
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Linda Hamilton broke her ankle prior to production, so most of the chase scenes were moved towards the end of the shooting schedule to allow her leg to heal. Even so, her ankle had to be taped every day so she could do her running, and she spent most of the shoot in pain.
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The body bag Reese is put in at the end of the film is actually a suit bag owned by director James Cameron.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't think much of the initial screenplay and was only going to do it for the money and because he felt a contemporary film would be beneficial to his career.
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The Terminator's motorcycle was later displayed in Arnold Schwarzenegger's restaurant Planet Hollywood.
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(at around 1h 13 mins) The "fog" in the scene after Sarah and Reese leave the bridge where they spent the night is actually bug spray, due to the big "fly scare" in the filming location at that time. The crew was going to wait until the spray dissipated, but decided to use it as fog for the effect instead. This is revealed in a DVD Easter egg, which can be found by pressing the right arrow in the languages section until the square on the right is lit up.
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Paramount was one of the studios that wanted to produce this film, but they stipulated that James Cameron could not direct it, since he hadn't proven his talent with a successful film yet. As this was Cameron's pet project at the time and he wanted to direct the film himself, he turned down their offer. Paramount would later be the main studio behind the fifth film of the franchise, Terminator Genisys (2015) (which was not directed by James Cameron).
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The original treatment by James Cameron included the detail that the Terminator needed to eat periodically in order for his human flesh to survive. A scene is included where the Terminator eats a candy bar, wrapper and all. This detail was incorporated into the script for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), with the Terminator selecting Arnold Schwarzenegger's favorite Austrian chocolate wafer. When fans learned that a scene had been shot where the Terminator ate chocolate, the reaction was overwhelmingly negative and the scene was omitted.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger said James Cameron did an extraordinary job creating that character (The Terminator) and whole phenomenon. "I never thought we would do a sequel, catchphrases like "I'll be back" or "Hasta la vista, baby" would catch on and be repeated or think that 30yrs later I would be asked to come back to a franchise like this playing The Terminator, unlike Batman or James Bond."
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Prior to filming, Arnold Schwarzenegger spent weeks learning to reassemble, dismantle, reload and fire every weapon used in the film without looking at the weapon. The result was a more robotic feel towards the weapons handling which added to the eerieness of his performance.
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Prior to being cast as The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger watched Westworld (1973), and was amazed by Yul Brynner's performance as a robot in the film. During their first meeting, Schwarzenegger talked to James Cameron about how The Terminator should be played and that whoever plays it shouldn't act like a machine, but be a machine. This convinced Cameron to cast Schwarzenegger as The Terminator.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger was considered so indispensable to the film that when he went off to do Conan the Destroyer (1984) first, they were prepared to wait, rather than recast him in the interim.
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In the original script the Terminator was supposed to steal a car at the beginning of the film. The scene involved the Terminator observing an elderly woman getting into a car and as she saw the Terminator she panicked and put it into reverse hitting a trash can then correcting herself put it into drive and sped off. The Terminator then enters the car, puts it into reverse then into drive mimicking the woman's actions. This was cut from a later script.
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(at around 59 mins) The movie's line "I'll be back." was voted as the #37 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100), and as #95 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger said The Terminator "was a small movie. We really had to cut costs all the time. We shot it very quickly. We felt we had a good story and it would be successful. But we thought it would be for certain audiences only. No-one suspected it would be in Time magazine's top 10 movies of the year and that successful at the box-office and that people demanded a sequel that would be the highest grossing movie of that year."
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(at around 19 mins) In the future scene when Reese throws a grenade under the wheel tread of one of Skynet's machines, it took 26 attempts to get right.
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There was minimal interference from the film's financial backer, Orion, partly due to the budget offered. However, they suggested two things. The first was a cyborg canine that accompanies Reese - an idea turned down by James Cameron; the second was strengthening the relationship between Kyle and Sarah, which Cameron decided to accept.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger started work two weeks later than the rest of the cast. His first day of work was on the car garage scene where he was looking for Sarah, driving a police car that the Terminator hijacked.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger's voice is used in exactly 16 lines, with 17 sentences spoken. The Terminator has two other lines on-screen, one with the voice of a police officer overdubbed, and one with the voice of Sarah's mother overdubbed. There are also many lines with the voice of Sarah's mother, and we learn that the Terminator is actually saying them, but we don't see it.
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The whole Cyberdyne plot from the sequel was meant to be in this film, but was cut due to budget reasons.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger allegedly delayed the start of filming by two days by claiming that the custom made leather jacket wasn't manly enough.
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Contrary to popular belief, Lance Henriksen was never going to be the Terminator. However, James Cameron based some of his early sketches of the Terminator on Henriksen's likeness. He also helped Cameron pitching the film's idea to the producers in a rather unique way: He prepared himself for the meeting by dressing up in some leathers, adding a cut on his head and putting gold foil on his teeth. Fifteen minutes before the meeting, he kicked the door to the office in. He then just silently sat there and stared at the producers, which made them gradually uncomfortable. When Cameron arrived, Henriksen left the room. He later overheard that one of the producers even said "I don't care who you use for the Terminator, not him."
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Although stereophonic sound existed in 1984, this film was filmed in monophonic. This was because during the production, the budget was too low to allow the filmmakers to get all the effects they wanted and still allow for the film to be shot in stereo. Although a stereo remix was produced later for the Hemdale VHS release, it was not until MGM acquired the rights to the film that a fully recognizable 5.1 stereo soundtrack was created, for the 2001 Special Edition DVD.
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SERIES TRADEMARK: (at around 1h 35 mins) In the first three Terminator films, the villainous Terminator's death is greeted with the word "Terminated" in some way: Sarah Connor says "You're terminated fucker" as she crushes the Terminator in the hydraulic press; in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), when John asks "Is it dead?", Terminator responds with "Terminated"; in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator holds down the T-X and says "You are terminated!".
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(at around 51 mins) The only time in the "Terminator" franchise when The Terminator changes his hairstyle in the film. When The Terminator breaks into an apartment in the self-repair sequences, his hairstyle is different to the one he had earlier on in the film. This is because he runs through a fire caused by a car explosion where his hair is burned. He also loses his eyebrows, and spends the rest of the movie without them.
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Most of the car chase scenes were shot at normal speed and sped up slightly. To add more of a sense of speed, other cars rode along with them out of frame with revolving lights attached to them that made it seem like the car was passing other light sources faster.
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Director James Cameron seriously considered Jennifer Jason Leigh for the role of Sarah Connor. It was narrowed down to herself and Linda Hamilton. Cameron and Hamilton would later be in a relationship from 1991 until 1999. Coincidentally, Leigh played a character whose last name was Hamilton in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982).
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The atmosphere on the set of the movie was tense at times, mainly because there were many scenes that had to be shot at night on real locations before sunrise. Sometimes, the crew couldn't secure a permit, forcing James Cameron to shoot without one (e.g. the carjacking scene). Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't enjoy the prosthetics because the wires of the red eye burned a lot of the time; for the arm scene, he had to have his real arm tied behind his back for hours. Cameron would often be irritated by people who came up to him with lame ideas; for instance, he axed an idea of the Terminator drinking a beer and acting silly (like in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)) because that just couldn't happen. Other than that, Cameron was described as a kid in a candy store when he finally got his chance to direct his first feature (he had been fired from the majority of the shoot of his previous film Piranha II: The Spawning (1981), and production on Terminator had been delayed for months while Schwarzenegger was doing Conan the Destroyer (1984)). Several years of working on Roger Corman movies had tought him all the tricks of the low-budget trade, so Cameron was able to solve a lot of logistical and practical issues on the set himself. Even Schwarzenegger was surprised when Cameron didn't hesitate to demonstrate how to perform a potentially dangerous motor stunt himself.
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Hand-held cameras were used for much of the action. This helped give "an energy to the scene that you can't get any other way", said cinematographer Adam Greenberg.
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(at around 54 mins) When the Terminator performs surgery on itself to remove its damaged prosthetic eye, although the face is that of a puppet stand in, the hands that perform the surgery are actually Arnold Schwarzenegger's.
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According to the original treatment (accessible on the DVD version), there were supposed to be two protectors sent back to save Sarah Connor. However, this partner of Reese's would have received very little screen time, as he rematerialized right into a fire escape. It is interesting to note that this contradicts the sequel's logic in regards to the Temporal Displacement Field (matter in an orb-shaped space is replaced by its counterpart from the future).
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James Cameron included Arnold Schwarzenegger in a lot of his decisions on-set, e.g., the Terminator's hair had to look spiky and burned.
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The tanker truck that explodes at the end (around 89 mins) is a model, not a real truck. Originally, the explosion was planned to be shot on location but it was dropped when the crew learned that the building that serves as the exterior (the LAPD's Piper Technical Center and above it, the Hoover Heliport) houses weapon ammunition that could pose risk of collateral damage. The explosion was filmed twice because on the first take, the wire pulling the truck tugged too hard initially, pulling the front axle off and ruining the shot. It took three days to rebuild the model and shoot the second take.
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James Cameron, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, and Bill Paxton all work together again in Aliens (1986).
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Kyle Reese was originally 21 years old. Michael Biehn was 27.
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After filming The Terminator, Peter Kent became Arnold Schwarzenegger's stunt double for the next decade in his movies.
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(at around 1h 35 mins) The smoke flowing out of The Terminator when it is crushed in the hydraulic press is actually cigarette smoke.
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James Cameron has never seen any money for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009) and Terminator Genisys (2015), the sequels in the franchise he was not involved in. Before making The Terminator, he had fired his agent who didn't show any faith in the project, so he chose to represent himself from then on. He sold the rights to the first film in a (successful) attempt to direct it, but this also meant that these rights kept bouncing around from studio to studio for the next decades. Due to changes in copyright law, they reverted back to him in 2019 after 35 years, but he received no royalties for any of the movies made during that time. He refers to this lost income as "the costs of a Hollywood education".
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SERIES TRADEMARK: (at around 36 mins) When Reese saves Sarah at the nightclub shootout, he says, "Come with me if you want to live."
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The classic "clank" was made by Brad Fiedel by hitting a microphone with a cast iron skillet.
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Stan Yale played the 'Derelict in Alley' uttering the line "That son of a bitch took my pants," and his subsequent appearances included P.I. Private Investigations (1987), in which he was credited as 'bum', Terminal Exposure (1987) ('wino'), Moonlighting (1985) ('bum'), Matlock (1986) ('bum'), L.A. Law (1986) ('first homeless man') and My Name Is Earl (2005) ('homeless man').
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Bruce Willis and the English pop star Sting were considered for the role of Kyle Reese.
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The film was not intended to be a sci-fi action film, but a dark horror film. However, many movie-viewers felt the film was an action movie when they first saw it in theaters. James Cameron was so surprised that he decided to make action movies after this. Months before the release, Cameron did not expect any sort of success in the box office or reviews by critics to come from this film. Ironically, it is now considered to be one of the greatest films of all time.
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Despite speaking German as a first language, Arnold Schwarzenegger does not act as his own voice actor in the German version of the film due to his thick Austrian accent, which would be distracting for German audiences. It would be like if the film was in American English, and The Terminator spoke in a thick country twang or Scottish English.
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The sunglasses worn by the Terminator were Gargoyles. Although the Gargoyles sunglasses seen in the film are erroneously connotated with the first Terminator film (known in the sunglass world as Terminator sunglasses aka the Gargoyles 85), they were previously seen in Sudden Impact (1983) which were worn by Clint Eastwood in a few scenes - they were later used in The Dead Pool (1988). Gargoyles still manufactures the sunglasses now sold as the Gargoyles Classic.
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The Los Angeles police cars have different mottos: "To Protect and Serve" and "To Care and Protect."
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Geena Davis auditioned for the role of Sarah Connor. She co-starred with Linda Hamilton in Secret Weapons (1985) the following year.
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Tom Selleck was rumored to be cast as The Terminator, but was forced to turn the role down due to his commitment to the TV series Magnum, P.I. (1980). Kevin Kline and Michael Douglas were also considered.
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According to an article from Hot Dog #10, April 2001, studio executives threatened to shut down the project if James Cameron filmed additional future war scenes beyond the script.
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Debra Winger was James Cameron's preferred choice after he watched her in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982). Michelle Pfeiffer, Diane Lane and Carrie Fisher were all considered to play the part, and both Sharon Stone and Kelly McGillis auditioned for the role.
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Russian art house filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, while critical of mainstream cinema, praised The Terminator, stating that its "vision of the future and the relation between man and its destiny is pushing the frontier of cinema as an art". He was however critical of its "brutality and low acting skills."
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The soundtrack features a song called Pictures Of You by Jay Ferguson. It's one of the songs Ginger listens to during the movie. Although the song has nothing to do with the plot of the movie and was not written for the movie specifically, its chorus "Pictures of you, From another time and place. Pictures of you, Like a scene in a photograph I can't erase. Pictures of you, Ooh, on a screen that fades without a trace." sounds like the song is alluding to the photograph of Sarah Connor that Reese had.
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(at around 33 mins) Based on her student ID card, it can be deduced that Sarah attends Western University in Pomona, CA. (In the novelization of the movie, Sarah attends classes as the first two Sarah Connors are killed, before she rides her scooter to work at Big Jeff's.)
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The idea of blowing up Cyberdyne, and thereby preventing the war, was originally conceived in the first movie. However, due to time constraints, this scene was cut, and becomes a major factor in the sequel. When Kyle is explaining to Sarah that such a move is not part of his mission, and tactically dangerous, the two happen to be in the countryside, in which Kyle realizes he comes from a time where such beauty has been destroyed and no longer exists, this causes him to have an emotional breakdown as he explains he wasn't meant to see this, and how "it's all gone." This notion is repeated by Sarah, in a video in the sequel, during her sanity evaluation when she and Dr. Silberman are watching a video of past behavior and she tells him, "Him, you, this whole place is gone."
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Though she's a registered Democrat, Linda Hamilton voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican candidate, in California's 2003 recall election that saw Schwarzenegger become the state's governor.
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The motorcycle the Terminator rides is a Honda CB750 Four. Sarah's scooter is a Honda Elite.
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The screenplay is officially credited to James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd, with additional dialogue by William Wisher. In reality, Cameron and Wisher were the main contributors: Wisher did the dialogue for the early Sarah Connor scenes and the police station sequences, while Cameron focused on the rest. They would update each other daily on their progress over the phone. Hurd's role was mainly in editing the script; she had put her name onto it so that it would make an easier sales pitch, but she ended up getting a full writing credit for this film and several other Terminator-related projects as a result, despite not doing any actual writing. Cameron said that he was somewhat disappointed that Hurd never set the record straight, but what annoyed him even more was that people automatically assumed that making a woman the central character was Hurd's idea, while it was in fact his.
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The action scenes were shot at a tight schedule due to the nighttime setting.
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Mickey Rourke was considered for the role of Kyle Reese.
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Michael Biehn initially thought the movie would be a silly low-budget time-travel movie, but decided to audition anyway. Any misgivings he had about taking part in the film were instantly abated when he met James Cameron, who showed him detailed storyboards and gave him an expressive overview of the story, winning him over by his passion and clarity of vision. Biehn would be a frequent collaborator of Cameron over the next decades.
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Estimated body count: 39. One of the three punks (Brian Thompson) dies when punched through the stomach; it is assumed that the punk leader (Bill Paxton) only got knocked out and the third (Brad Rearden) merely lost his clothes. The gun store clerk and the first two Sarah Connors are next. During Reese's first flashback memory, two soldiers are killed in action (a female soldier hit by a laser, and a male on the back of the pick-up). Sarah's friend Ginger and her boyfriend Matt are killed by the Terminator. Three people die in the Tech Noir shoot-out (two are seen being hit, a third can be seen lying next to Sarah as she falls). The cop whose car is stolen by Terminator probably survives. Lt. Traxler mentions to Sarah that there are 30 police officers in the station, but if information from the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) is considered, then 17 died during the police station shoot-out. In Reese's second flashback memory, 8 people can be see to be shot. Also presumably killed are Sarah's mother and the truck driver (although he may have just been knocked unconscious), and finally Kyle Reese. If the Terminator himself and the two German Shepherd dogs from Reese's second flashback are counted, it amounts to a total of 42.
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The novelization of Terminator Salvation (2009) says a Terminator could fit in better if it didn't look like a bodybuilder; an obvious in-joke to Arnold Schwarzenegger compared with the casting of Robert Patrick and Sam Worthington.
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The Terminator has 21 minutes of screentime.
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The main title song by composer Brad Fiedel uses an odd time signature of 13/16. This was simplified to 12/8 for the main title of the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).
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At 107 minutes this is the shortest Terminator movie.
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The "screaming" sound at the end of the movie is Brad Fiedel and friends screaming in a microphone and Fiedel playing synth over it.
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Brian Thompson, who plays one of the punks in the beginning of the film, would later go on to a Terminator-like role on The X-Files (1993) as the Alien Bounty Hunter.
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The Terminator is Arnold Schwarzenegger's favorite film of his own.
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One of the concept art showed a T-800 skeleton crawling after Sarah with a butcher knife.
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Edward James Olmos and Louis Gossett Jr. were considered for the role of Lt. Traxler.
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Debra Winger successfully auditioned and won the role of Sarah Connor. However, she later changed her mind and turned the role down.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger's first horror film. Schwarzenegger's other horror films were Predator (1987), End of Days (1999) and Maggie (2015).
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When O.J. Simpson was still in the running to play the Terminator, a mockup movie poster was done with him instead.
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Although this film is often credited with breaking new ground by introducing a female action star, James Cameron has repeatedly stated that he never set out to make a feminist statement. He simply made the lead role a woman because he wanted to be original, and noted that this had never been done before in an action movie.
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(at around 57 mins) It was Michael Biehn's idea that Kyle goes up to the wall and scream into the wall when Kyle is being questioned by Dr. Silberman.
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Sarah Connor was supposed to be 18, although Linda Hamilton was 27.
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(at around 30 mins) Just after the first scene in the nightclub TechNoir, we hear a police radio report a "two-eleven in progress at Bob's Liquor, corner of Third and Cameron," this is a reference to director James Cameron.
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Julia Louis-Dreyfus was rumored to be cast as Sarah Connor but was forced to turn the role down due to her commitment as a regular player on NBC's Saturday Night Live (1975).
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(at around 1h 35 mins) Sarah causes the hydraulic press to shut twice, once by accident and once on purpose. Both times the remastered soundtrack uses a completely different sound effect when this occurs than what was originally presented in the mono soundtrack.
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After the Terminator is run over by the tanker truck, his 'skin' is subsequently burned off cleanly in the fuel fire.

This is theoretically possible if you consider the principle of a self-cleaning oven (SCO). The typical SCO is heated to an internal temperature in excess of 800 degrees Fahrenheit and is maintained there for hours. At the end of the process, any organic residue is reduced to grey ash which can be wiped off with a rag.

The body of the Terminator was in the fuel truck fire for only a short time, but the fire was likely burning at temperatures well in excess of 1000 degrees F. This could have been enough to leave a clean metal endoskeleton with no charred flesh on it.
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(at around 13 mins) The Alamo Sport Shop was a real gun store, at 14329 Victory Blvd. in Van Nuys, California. It is no longer there. The Artkraft Taxidermy shop visible behind Alamo has moved to North Hollywood, California.
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Sarah's middle initial is shown as 'J' in the phone book, but her middle name is never mentioned in any of the Terminator films. The novelization of the movie gives her middle name as Jeanette, possibly a reference to Jenette Goldstein who appears in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) as John Connor's foster mother.
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Lightstorm Entertainment, the company later founded by James Cameron that would produce his films Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and True Lies (1994), was named after the lightning effects that accompany the time-travel process in this movie.
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Lea Thompson revealed in a 2015 interview with Nerdist Podcast that she auditioned for the role of Sarah Connor.
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Jürgen Prochnow was also considered to play the title role.
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James Cameron described his creative process as "What I'm good at is working with actors to create scenes and then editing their performances to get the absolute best vibrating version of that scene and then share that with the audience. It's an amazing process to go through. Sometimes you think it's not going to work when you get started and then the characters come to life."
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Leading make-up designer Dick Smith declined James Cameron's invitation to work on the film, as he didn't think he could do cyborg make-up, so he suggested his friend Stan Winston who had just been Oscar-nominated for his robot work on Heartbeeps (1981); Cameron reluctantly accepted. Fortunately, Winston was not frustrated by the fact that Cameron had already done most of the design work on the film himself. In fact, his work on the film's practical special effects payed off so well that both men became personal friends. They later founded special effects company Digital Domain together, and would subsequently collaborate on Aliens (1986), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and T2 3-D: Battle Across Time (1996).
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Although T-800 is referred to as a "cyborg" throughout the franchise, this label is technically incorrect. A true cyborg cannot survive without its organic components. The end sequence of this film establishes that the T-800 can continue without them. T-800 is, therefore NOT a cyborg.
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Ron Perlman, Stephen Lang, Chevy Chase, Michael Keaton and Alec Baldwin were considered to play the Terminator.
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Rick Rossovich would later appear with Michael Biehn and Bill Paxton in Navy Seals (1990). All three had also worked together before in The Lords of Discipline (1983).
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Peter Kent got the call to do this film shortly after arriving in Hollywood. He ended up being tasked to do most of the stunts for Arnold Schwarzenegger, even though he had never done stunts before this. He was also a few inches taller than Schwarzenegger.
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The English musician Tony Banks, who was the keyboardist for the rock band Genesis, was considered to compose the soundtrack and was sent the script, but he was busy doing the score to Lorca and the Outlaws (1984) (aka Redwing).
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In pre-production for THE TERMINATOR, Cameron's top priority was to make a believable robot. Cameron had initially conceived of a "C-3PO type" suit. But in interviews he confided, "I didn't want the robot to be a man in a suit." He instinctively knew that any suit performer, however thin, would require an audience to imagine a man inside a suit, inside Schwarzenegger. It was pushing the limits of their suspension of disbelief. "But," Cameron knew, "no one had ever created a robot that wasn't a suit." Cameron imagined that stop-motion animation would comprise the majority of the action scenes with the fully revealed Endoskeleton. However Winston convinced him that he and his team could achieve a huge number of shots with full-size puppetry. For the close and medium shots, Stan Winston Studio devised a wearable T-800 puppet. Puppeteer Shane Mahan wore the rig strapped to his back, while individual operators took charge of controlling the head and eyes via remote control. Cameron decided that the T-800 should have a limp after it emerged from the truck crash so the puppeteers weren't required to strictly mimic Arnold Schwarzenegger's gait. A miniature T-800 was also made for the scenes that required stop motion animation. To include all the design intricacies of the full size puppet, model maker, Doug Beswick created a two foot tall puppet, but accomodations for the miniature required modifications to the full-scale Endo as well. Doug had to send Stan alternations, then Stan would send alterations back to him, until everyone was satisfied and the full scale and miniature Terminators had matching designs, and could function properly for their scenes.
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Actress Lisa Langlois said she was offered the role of Sarah Connor but had to turn it down. "What happened there was, I went in and I read for the part. I had another audition right after and I feel like I was more focused on that because it had much more dialogue. Anyway, I got called back and went to writer Gale Anne Hurd's house to read with Michael Biehn for James Cameron. My agent at the time told me that Linda Hamilton had gotten the part but that Gayle Anne Hurd thought I had more charisma. I didn't think anything of it because in the meantime, I got cast in The Slugger's Wife (1985) with Hal Ashby, a director with whom I had always wanted to work...I started working on The Slugger's Wife when my agent got a call saying that Linda Hamilton had sprained her ankle badly and they wanted to offer the part to me. But I was already shooting in Atlanta, Georgia. They said they were shooting in Florida and could I possibly do the two films? It was determined that there was no way I could do both pictures and that was the end of that. My agent said to me, 'It's okay, YOU got the better picture. That's just a small movie with an unknown director and Arnold Schwarzenegger.' And I replied 'No, The Terminator had the better script and a better story.' Years later, I saw James Cameron when he was being honored at the Canadian Consulate. I didn't know whether he would remember me or not, but I went up to him and said, 'I've always wanted to tell you it was a disappointment to me that I couldn't do your film because I had told my agent it was the better script.' He turned to me and said, 'Lisa, you haven't aged at all. It's okay that you didn't do the film because otherwise, I would never have met Linda.' He ended up marrying her and I thought that was so wonderful."
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The Terminator uses the following weapons during the movie: An AMT (Arcadia Machine & Tool) 1911 .45 Long Slide with Laser Pointer (to kill the first two Sarah Connors and Ginger he ends up losing it during the Tech Noir shootout) An S&W classic type 4-inch barrel revolver, caliber .357Mag (during the tunnel chase) An Uzi .9mm Submachine Gun (in the Tech Noir nightclub) A SPAS-12 Automatic Shotgun (during the police station shootout) An AR-18 Assault Rifle (during the police station shootout and the tunnel chase)
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Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron became close friends during the making of the movie, and would collaborate again on Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and True Lies (1994).
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(at around 6 mins) According to Michael Biehn, a stunt double performed the fall to the pavement when Kyle Reese arrives in the past.
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(at around 59 mins) The Terminator's line "I'll be back" is commonly mock-quoted as "I'll be bock!" However, Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers the line calmly and with very little accent.
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Mickey Rourke, Richard Gere, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis were considered for the role of Kyle Reese.
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When Reese and Sarah escape the police station, Brad Fiedel's score was too intrusive for James Cameron's liking. So he asked him to tone it down a little.
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The camera that takes the instant photo near the end of the movie is a Kodak Kodamatic 940. Although often referred to as a "Polaroid" photo, it would have been taken on Kodak instant film. Polaroid later sued Kodak for copyright infringement on their instant photo patents and won leading to Kodak instant cameras and film being pulled from the market after a 15-year legal battle.
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It's common knowledge that Arnold Schwarzenegger got his start doing a guest spot on the 1974 Lucille Ball special Happy Anniversary and Goodbye (1974). Schwarzenegger said Lucy would send him little letters of congratulations after that with each new movie that came out; saying she was so proud of the little star she discovered and created.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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The data that appears on screen, when viewed from Terminator's perspective, is in 16 bit hexadecimal format.
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James Cameron cites The Outer Limits (1963) and The Driver (1978) as influences on his screenplay.
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The film that "made" Arnold Schwarzenegger a star, a household name in Hollywood and now a legend. Following his hugely successful bodybuilding career, he came to the USA and was told by many people it would never play out for him as an actor due to his huge physical size and heavy accent. How wrong they were.
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(at around 9 mins) The shoes that Kyle Reese steals at the beginning of the film are Nike High Top Vandals.
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In the backstory behind Sarah's father: Sarah's father was a war veteran and he walked out on Sarah and her mother.
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According to Schwarzenegger in interviews he and James Cameron almost came to blows over the line "I'll be back." Schwarzenegger insisted a contraction would be unnatural for a cyborg to say; he said a machine like that would say "I will be back." Cameron insisted Arnold read the line as written and told him to stop re-writing his script. The argument went back and forth for several minutes. Finally Arnold broke down and did it Cameron's way, but it was a close call.
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The building number for the gun store is '14329' this is also the house number of Sarah Anne Connor, the first victim.
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This film, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) have shown Terminators to be anatomically correct.
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Terminator: Dark Fate (2019), the 6th film in the franchise, will be released 35 years after The Terminator and will be the film's 35th anniversary installment.
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The computer instructions projected on the Terminator's heads-up display are written in MOS Technology 6502 assembly language. This was the central processing unit of the Apple II personal computer, among others.
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(at around 20 mins) At one point Sarah wears a (bootleg) The Jetsons (1962) t-shirt. The Jetsons was an animated TV show set in the distant future, just as many of the events in the movie are set in the distant future.
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Like many other Orion Pictures releases the rights to The Terminator have been scattered. When the film was first released on home video in 1985 Thorn/EMI Video was the distributor. The company eventually folded into HBO/Cannon Video and issued a reprint of the VHS with their new banner in 1986. HBO Video also did one other video release. All of the Thorn/EMI and HBO Video releases omit the Orion Pictures and Hemdale Film Corporation logos at the start of the movie. (Orion distributed the movie in North America and co-financed it with Hemdale). Hemdale Home Video did one other VHS release of the film around the same time the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) was released to theaters. This version uses the Hemdale Film Corporation logo as do all of the subsequent Live Home Video releases. Live bought the rights from Hemdale after they went defunct in 1995 for home video releases. Live eventually sold their library to Artisan Entertainment who reissued the film on VHS, once again with the Hemdale logo. In 2001 as part of the Orion Pictures library, Artisan sold the rights to MGM who owned most of Orion's library at the time and still do to this present day. The MGM releases retain the original Orion Pictures logo which was used when the film was originally released to theaters.
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The music played during the police station massacre is the same that is played in 10 to Midnight (1983) when the office manager announces, "Betty's dead!".
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At the end of his interrogation Reese tells the interrogator that the terminator will tear Sarah's heart out. This is how the terminator killed Brian Thompson's character shortly after it arrived.
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The Italian Terminator-sploitation movie Hands of Steel (1986), that surprisingly has more similarities to Universal Soldier (1992) than The Terminator, copies shot for shot the scene where the Terminator cuts its arm open and examines if the arm's mechanism is working properly. Also, one of the cyborgs in the movie has a red glow in its eyes just like the Terminators do.
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The original screenplay contained a scene which spelled out the supposed science behind time travel. Second-unit director Jean-Paul Ouellette happened to attend a dinner with his father, a government physicist working at Los Alamos, and a dozen of his colleagues, and discussed the scene with them. The experts were unenthusiastic about the made-up science, and all parties agreed that the film would be stronger if the science were left unspecified. Ouelette relayed this advice to Cameron, who cut the scene in question.
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During the police shootout scene, the cops are shown raiding the armory for weapons. Several obsolete first-issue M-16A1's from the Vietnam-era are shown. This is accurate, as police departments would get surplus weapons.
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The SPAS-12's top folding stock was removed by the Terminator before the attack at the police station, presumably since a Terminator would not need the stock for recoil or stability
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James Horner's music from Gorky Park (1983) appeared in one of the teaser trailers.
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The writers have admitted the whole "only things surrounded by living tissue can go back in time" rule has no scientific basis, and was conceived purely as a Drama-Preserving Handicap, as otherwise Reese could just bring a BFG or two back with him to kill the Terminator and the movie would be over in five minutes.
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In the novelization, Kyle deliberately shoots the Terminator's arm after it had its laser sight pointed at Sarah. If he'd shot it anywhere else, it would have killed her anyway. This shot is the one that injured its arm in the scene we see later. Further, this fact is actually included in the film but Kyle's amazing shot is very obscured by a Freeze-Frame Bonus. In slow motion, you can actually see the shotgun slug knock the Terminator's arm away just as it fires. The series of Terminator that's targeting Sarah is never mentioned in the film--only its make and model. In the novel, Kyle ponders if the machine is a 700 series or 800 series, hoping against hope that it was the former. To his horror, he quickly realizes it's the latter. The novel also states the reason that the Terminator runs away after the parking garage chase. Thanks to Reese shooting it in the eye, the Terminator was stunned and blinded enough to crash its police car at high speed. note The impact was so powerful that it actually knocked the T-800 unconscious for a few seconds as its systems reset. By the time it awoke, the police were closing in and with the Terminator's eye and arm injuries (both of which, we'll remind you, were caused by a police-issue shotgun), the Terminator chose to run away and repair itself rather than risk fighting a battle it might not win. Deleted scenes show that the pipe bombs Sarah and Kyle use in the final chase scene weren't actually acquired to kill the Terminator. A subplot had Sarah come to the realization that even if they managed to destroy the T-800, Skynet would just send another one after her and keep going until she was dead. This marks a notable shift in her character, where she goes from frantically running and relying on Kyle to pressuring him to help her destroy Skynet once and for all. She planned to use the pipe bombs to blow up the Cyberdyne Systems facility that would eventually create Skynet. This also explains that her and Kyle ending up in the Cyberdyne robotics factory at the climax wasn't an accident, they were deliberately planning to blow the place to hell. This storyline would later be followed up on as a major subplot of the sequel. While the hotel janitor he is credited as the Cleaning Man in the movie, the novelization reveals his real name is Rodney.
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Reese and Sarah flee the police station in an AMC Gremlin. Essentially a Hornet with the trunk removed, it was designed for the economy market and, because of its bizarre looks, was not very popular. It stayed in production in the U.S. from 1970-1972 and in Mexico from 1973-1978. The choice of name was as controversial as its looks, as a "gremlin" is a mythical creature responsible for causing mechanical problems. Later in the film when the terminator is chasing Sarah in the semi truck, the terminator drives over and crushes a second Gremlin. When Sarah pulls into a gas station in Mexico, a junked Gremlin can be seen at the start of the shot.
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Robin Williams, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Kevin Costner and John Travolta were considered for the role of the Terminator.
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Sarah asks Kyle, "The women in your time, what are they like?" In The Time Machine (1960), Weena asks George the time traveler, "What are they like? ... The women in your time?"
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The book that inspired Edge of Tomorrow (2014) makes an oblique reference to the climax of this film with a robot in a factory.
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Harrison Ford and Richard Gere were considered to play the Terminator.
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(at around 38 mins) The police officer (William Wisher) identifies himself as "1-L-19". The 1 refers to the central division, L means a one officer unit, and the 19 is the number of the patrol car. This format is explained in Adam-12: Log 15: Exactly 100 Yards (1969). See "quotes" for that episode. This format is explained in Adam-12: Log 15: Exactly 100 Yards (1969). In fact the entire list goes as follows:
  • 01 Central Police Station. 100 West First Street 90012
  • 02 Lincoln Heights Police Station. This station was closed by the 1940s and its number deactivated. The --number was reactivated in 1966 for Rampart Police Station.
  • 03 University Police Station. Name changed to Southwest Police Station.
  • 04 Boyle Heights Police Station. Name changed to Hollenbeck Police Station. 2111 East First Street 90033
  • 05 San Pedro Police Station. Combined in 1962 with Wilmington Substation and renamed Harbor Division.
  • 06 Hollywood Police Station.
  • 07 Wilshire Police Station.
  • 08 Sawtelle Police Station. Renamed West Los Angeles Police Station.
  • 09 Valley Police Station. Renamed Van Nuys Police Station.
  • 10 Wilmington Substation. This station was deactivated and its number later reassigned to West Valley Police Station.
  • 11 Eagle Rock Division. This station's name was changed when moved to Highland Park (approximately 1920's) and then again to today's Northeast Police Station.
  • 12 77th Street Police Station.
  • 13 Newton Street Police Station.
  • 14 Venice Police Station. Renamed Pacific Police Station.
  • 15 Georgia Street Police Station. This station was deactivated and its number was later reassigned to North Hollywood Police Station.
  • 16 Foothill Police Station.
  • 17 Devonshire Police Station.
  • 18 Southeast Police Station.
  • 19 Mission Police Station.
  • 20 Olympic Police Station
  • 21 Topanga Police Station
The "X" is the unit type. They go as follows:
  • A: Two officer patrol unit ("Adam")
  • D: SWAT ("David")
  • E: Ticket writing car
  • L: One officer patrol unit. ("Lincoln"); ( "X" or "T" units shall use the letter "L" following the regular service letter when applicable.):traffic supervisor, TL units usually carry the rank of Sergeant
  • M: Motorcycle unit ("Mary"); (MQ: motorcycle on special assignment, MQ: DUI enforcement)
  • C or "cycle": Bicycle unit
  • CP: Command Post
  • FB: Foot Beat (foot patrol)
  • T: Traffic investigator ("Tom")
  • TL: Traffic single officer car or field supervisor (a Sergeant in a Traffic Division)
  • SLO: Senior Lead Officer
  • G: Gang enforcement unit ("George")
  • H: Detective ("Henry")
  • J: Juvenile Investigator
  • N: Narcotics
  • R: Metro Unit
  • W: Detective ("William")
  • U: Report-taking Unit ("Union")
  • V: Vice ("Victor")
  • OP: Observation Post (normally, a small bus operating as a mobile command unit for major incidents)
  • Q: Special detail (Not to be assigned radio calls. Works on a specific crime mission)
  • X: Extra patrol ("X-ray")
  • Z: Special detail ("Zebra"); (Not to be assigned radio calls. Works on a specific crime mission)
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O.J. Simpson, Tom Selleck, Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson and Richard Gere were considered for the title role.
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Linda Hamilton wound up marrying James Cameron after Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).
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The first film which Arnold Schwarzenegger plays an antagonist. He later played Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin (1997). However, his character Breacher in Sabotage (2014) is more of a antihero than a villain.
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The scene where Kyle Reese first arrives in the alley was filmed in the same location as Nadia calling Jim from a payphone in American Pie 2 (2001), which also was going to have Bill Paxton as Stifler's dad.
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Second wrong Sarah Connor (with middle name Ann) only seen in crime scene photographs handled by Det. Vukovich and Lt. Traxler was portrayed by Paula Cross, a friend of Gale Anne Hurd who also appeared in later movie by James Cameron, The Abyss (1989) (as confirmed by latter's movie DVD text commentary).
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The film was one of Albert Pyun's influences behind his post-apocalyptic action flick, Cyborg (1989) starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.
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The phrase, "fuck you, asshole!" is said twice: Once by the punk leader (Bill Paxton) to the Terminator, and again by the Terminator (he possibly learned it from the punk leader) to the cleaning man in the flophouse when he asks him if he has a dead cat in the room.
  • It is said to Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in Commando (1985) to which he replies, "Fuck YOU asshole!"
  • It is said to Arnold Schwarzenegger's character again in Total Recall (1990).
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In the film, the Terminator arrived the shop during daytime, while in the novelization of The Terminator, the Terminator arrived the shop at 10:23 pm. Also in the novel, the shop is referred as Garrett's Gun Shop.
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Bill Paxton (the punk at the telescope at the start of the film), is the only actor to have been killed by a Terminator, an Alien and a Predator.
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The first R rated Terminator film in the franchise. The two films that followed, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) are also rated R. However, Terminator Salvation (2009) and Terminator Genisys (2015) are both rated PG-13.
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The first of 5 movies with Earl Boen as a psychologist, the others were the following 2 Terminator movies, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994), and Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000).
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There is an asteroid named 99942 Apophis which at one time was thought to impact the earth in 2029; the same year that the opening scene of this film takes place.
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The Anthony Horowitz novel Oblivion paraphrases the line from this movie and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), "Come with me if you want to live".
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Terminator won praise from an unexpected quarter, namely the Russian/Soviet art house director Andrei Tarkovsky, who is known for his slow-moving, beautiful and relatively action free films. Tarkovsky was famous for having little time for most western commercial films, but expressed his appreciation for "the Terminator."
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Sarah Connor's apartment was filmed only ¼ mile (500 meters) from the location for Car Wash (1976). See filming locations for both movies.
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Michael Biehn repeats two of the lines that he says to Sarah Connor: "Do exactly what I say" and "Pay attention!" in Timebomb (1991).
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Michael Biehn (Reese), Bill Paxton (Punk Leader in the opening scene), and Rick Rossovich (Matt, the roommate's boyfriend) would act together in Navy Seals (1990).
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  • Carrow's restaurant (as Big Jeff's restaurant) where Sarah Connor worked was filmed only 0.6 miles (1Km) from Pee Wee's house in Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985).
  • Sarah Connor's apartment was filmed only ¼ mile (500 meters) from the title location of Car Wash (1976). See filming locations for both movies.
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Filmed in 1983.
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Michael Biehn's favorite line is, 'Come with me if you want to live.'
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After having its flesh burned off and being damaged, the Terminator walks with a limp while pursuing Sarah Connor. This is due to the actuator that is its Achilles tendon being severed.
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Both Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn guest-starred on Hill Street Blues (1981) in the 80s. Hamilton ("Sarah Connor") in Season 4 and Biehn ("Kyle Reese") in Season 5.
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Linda Hamilton used a body double for some scenes.
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(at around 13 mins) The line that Sarah Connor's co-worker tells her, "in 100 years, who's going to care?". In Joy Ride (2001) a character tells another, "in 100 years, I'll be dead". That film also had Robert Winley who played the cigar-smoking biker from Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). It was his final film before his death 16 days later.
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Two years prior to this, Paul Winfield appeared in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), sharing all of his scenes with Walter Koenig as Chekov. In this film, he shares scenes with Michael Biehn's Kyle Reese. Both roles would later be played by the late Anton Yelchin.
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The Robert Crais novel The Sentry seems to make an oblique reference to the first two Terminator films: he mentions the gun by Heckler & Koch (the HK's in the movie) and a line from Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), "he took it pretty well".
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After its release in the cinema and on VHS as an 18 certificate, from 2004 the DVD and all future formats (Blu-ray) the certificate came down to a 15 certificate in the UK. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), the follow-up, was given a 15 at the cinema and all future releases of T2 be it VHS, DVD or Blu-ray are still at that certificate today (2016). All terminator films after T2 released on DVD or Blu-ray are 12 certificates (UK) and to date have not been reduced in certificate.
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Inspired the song "Cyborg 101" by Bonecage.
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James Cameron first asked Rob Bottin, but Bottin had just been offered John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) and he couldn't do both films. Cameron then approached another effects legend, Dick Smith. Smith decided the project wasn't well-suited for him but he offered a suggestion, "Stan does good robots." Stan Winston was on a robot designing streak with the Tin Man from The Wiz (1978) and the robot makeups for Heartbeeps (1981), which led to both an Academy Award nomination and designing "Mr. Roboto" for the rock band Styx. When Cameron finally asked Stan to join The Terminator (1984), the project would lead to a professional partnership and friendship that spanned 25 years.
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Tom Selleck was approached to be the Terminator but had to decline due to his commitment to Magnum, P.I. (1980). This was confirmed on the Howard Stern show. This was presumably in line with thought early in development the Terminator was initially supposed to be an "Everyman" that would be indistinguishable in a crowd of people.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 2001 list of the top 100 Most Heart-Pounding American Movies.
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The script refers to the rifle as an AR-18 and it is shown as such in the movie, though rather obviously a California gun store in 1984 would never sell a fully automatic rifle over the counter. The Terminator novel excuses this by stating the T-800 instead took a civilian AR-180 semi-automatic rifle and converted it to full-auto using tools stolen from a hardware store earlier in the day.
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It was Michael Biehn's idea for his character to get up and scream at the security camera in the wall when his character is interrogated by the psychiatrist.
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The 45 ACP Colt M1911 made by Arcadia Machine & Tool from 1977 to 2002. The Hardballer was the first entirely stainless steel 1911 pattern pistol. Other features included adjustable rear sights and a lengthened grip safety.
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The Franchi Spas-12 shotgun was also used in another classic film, Jurassic Park (1993), which James Cameron wanted to direct.
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This is the only Terminator movie to be shown in a 1:85:1 aspect ratio.
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James Cameron poured acid on the jacket that Arnold Schwarzenegger was wearing in order to make it appear as though it had been on fire when the T-800 jumps through the flaming car. Arnold mentioned in several interviews that this was truly a painful experience.
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The T-800 is actually searching the phonebook with both fingers. A closeup shot shows his right finger hover down to Sarah, but in the wide shot its revealed he's already found John Conner with his left.
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At 11m40secs into the film as Sarah is going work, you can see the same yellow Jeep Wrangler in the background that Sarah drives at the end of the film.
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When he set out to write and direct Terminator James Cameron was a nobody on a small budget having to cast up and coming actors. He wanted to cast Lance Henrikson as the cyborg but then along came Arnold Schwarzenegger fresh from playing Conan the Barbarian and who was the obvious choice for the Terminator. James didn't forget Lance and cast him as a detective.
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At 1:02:26 you can see a missing persons poster on the wall. Its an actual missing persons poster of Kevin Collins, a 10yo boy who went missing before this film was being made.
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Lance Henriksen who stars in this film as Lt. Vulkovich, and Robert Winley who plays the cigar biker in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), appeared together in Stone Cold (1991) with some scenes together.
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The film was featured in Moviedrome: The Terminator (1990) the same time Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) was in production which is mentioned by presenter Alex Cox.
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When the movie was broadcast on BBC2 in 1990, the movie was edited for censorship. All the 'F' words were removed. The T800 ripping the punk's heart is removed. In Ginger's death scene, The T800 kills Ginger with 1 shot instead of 5 shots and it cuts from the T800 to shooting Ginger once to The T800 turning and aiming his pistol at the answering machine and The T800 removing his eye was trimmed down which close-up shots of the T800 cutting out and removing his human eye is removed.
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Kyle Reese arrives on May 12, 1984, the 15 year anniversary of the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) & exactly eight years to the day before the real filming date of the Whammy Burger scene in Falling Down (1993). It was also Emilio Estevez 22nd birthday, & Homer Simpson's (from The Simpsons (1989)) 28th.
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This is the only one of the Terminator trilogy in which Arnold's character is not seen scanning for the appropriate clothes sizes.
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While possibly coincidental, the iconic line, "I'll be back," was also stated by serial killer David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz in a letter sent to the police.
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Many of the men associated with this franchise have seen their acting careers go up in flames because of substance abuse problems. Although Arnold Schwarzenegger does not have any kind of a substance abuse problem, Michael Biehn, Edward Furlong and Nick Stahl (the Connor men) all have had drink or drug problems which have damaged their careers. Both Stahl and Furlong have been arrested.
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Cameo 

William Wisher: (at around 38 mins) Co-Writer of this film plays the police officer who attempts to assist the Terminator after he is thrown from the hood of the car, but gets knocked unconscious for his effort. Wisher has a cameo in the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) as well, where his character seems to have a look of recognition upon seeing the new Terminator.
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Director Cameo 

James Cameron: Cameron's voice is heard three times in the movie: as Sarah Connor's date on the answering machine and twice as a manager of Tiki motel, who is heard (but not seen) speaking to Sarah and then again answers the phone when The Terminator calls.
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Director Trademark 

James Cameron: [feet] the Terminator often steps on objects, crushing them. In the future, there is a close-up of tank treads rolling over human skulls.
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James Cameron: [nice cut] (at around 1h 13 mins) Sarah's burning photo fades into Sarah sleeping in Kyle's arms.
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James Cameron: [nuke]
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

While shooting this film, James Cameron often resorted to what he called "guerilla filmmaking" as a way of getting around acquiring permits needed to film certain scenes. This involved the production crew and actors quickly arriving at a specified location, shooting the scene and leaving before the police arrived. As a result, some of the people seen in a few shots are actual everyday citizens completely unaware they're in a movie. This was also used for reshoots with Cameron even calling and waking Arnold Schwarzenegger once at 3am to meet him at a location already in full costume to quickly reshoot a scene. Cameron also used this tactic to film the very last scene where Sarah drives off into the desert. This almost backfired, however, when the police came sniffing around.
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(Please note -- also a spoiler for Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)) Two deleted scenes gave Skynet and the Future War some more background. The first was a scene where Sarah discovers that a company called Cyberdyne will be responsible for building Skynet and the Terminators. She tries to convince Reese that they should destroy this company, in order to prevent the dark future from ever happening. Reese tells her that his mission is conserving the future, not changing it. The second scene shows that Cyberdyne owns the factory where Sarah battled the Terminator and that one of their employees finds the Terminator's microchip, which event actually causes Skynet to exist in the first place. Both these ideas became major plot points for the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). Director James Cameron cut the scenes because he wanted to leave some questions yet unanswered, which he never regretted as he could make an entire sequel out of the unused ideas.
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(at around 1h 25 mins) During the final chase, as Reese tosses pipe bombs at the Terminator, there is a single white frame spliced in just before some of the explosions, which is a trick employed by editor Mark Goldblatt. Director James Cameron would later use this trick to heighten the visual impact of gunshots in Aliens (1986). The pyrotechnic charges can be seen on the street, each with a pressure-sensitive strip for triggering the explosion when run over by either the Terminator's motorcycle or the heroes' truck.
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After the Terminator is run over by the tanker truck, he's limping. Then his 'skin' is burned off cleanly in the fuel fire. Later, in the factory, when the Terminator is chasing Sarah and Kyle, he's climbing metal stairs and there are two quick shots of his feet. If you look closely, you can see the cause of his limp: there is an actuator connector to his left 'heel' which is hanging free, as compared to his right foot where the actuator is still connected. So essentially, the actuator acting as the Terminator's Achilles' tendon has been severed, resulting in the limp.
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Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) refers to Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) as "Reese", until the lovemaking scene and subsequent procreation of John Connor. After the scene she calls him by his first name, Kyle.
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Body Count: The Terminator kills a total of 28 people.
  • the punker,
  • the gun store owner
  • the first two Sarah Connors
  • Matt and Ginger
  • three Tech Noir patrons
  • 17 police officers (not fully established until the sequel)
  • Sarah's mother
  • the truck driver (although he may have only knocked him out).


Kyle Reese doesn't count: even though the Terminator wounds and roughs him up, Reese eventually dies from the explosive impact of his own bomb.
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(at around 1h 30 mins) In the film's final cut, there's a scene where Sarah screams "No!" twice, upon seeing that the Terminator is still alive. These vocals were actually taken from a deleted scene where Reese struggles with Sarah.
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(at around 1h 6 mins) Kyle Reese tells Sarah Connor that he would die for John Connor. In Terminator Genisys (2015) he does the reverse, he tells John he would die for Sarah.
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(at around 1h 27 mins) When Sarah is struggling to pull Reese out of the flipped pickup truck, you hear her yelling "Get out!" three times. The second two screams are identical.
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Christian symbolism: John Connor shares the initials of Jesus Christ, and both of them are said to be saviours of humanity, mankind's only hope. Both of them are born to a mother who is impregnated in mysterious circumstances; one is impregnated by God while still a virgin, the other by a man sent from the future. Furthermore, when Kyle materializes, he has scars on his back where an angel's wings would be, suggesting that he is "heaven-sent".
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(at around 1h 22 mins) The first Terminator film to have frontal female nudity. Linda Hamilton's bare breasts are seen in the love scene between Sarah and Kyle. It even features frontal male nudity, as Arnold Schwarzenegger's genitals are partially visible while he walks over to the three punks (especially in high-definition versions). Male frontal nudity happened again in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), which is during the scene where the T-1000 kills the police officer and his genitals can be partially seen when he crouches down. Terminator Salvation (2009), which had an extended scene featuring a topless woman in the Special Edition, showed brief female frontal nudity. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) and Terminator Genisys (2015) both contained undressed women, but no frontal nudity.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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