In Honor Of The Terminator: Five Old-School Killer Robots

It's easy these days to get taken in by the visual awesomeness of modern killer robots like Transformers and T-1000s, but it's just as easy to forget that personal touch you only get from getting hunted and murdered by stop-motion models, guys in foam suits, and Yul Brynner. While you're ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the shiny CGI creations of Terminator Salvation this weekend, try to remember the giants upon whose metal (or plastic, or plywood) shoulders these new creations stand.

5. Maximillian -- The Black Hole (1979)

Mostly bark and little bite, though he gets "props" for the way he kills Anthony Perkins. Unfortunately, there's no getting around the fact that his ultimate demise comes at the hands of V.I.N.C.E.N.T., who's essentially a hovering Weeble.

4. The Gunslinger (Model 406) -- Westworld (1973)

This is one time I'm going to have to sympathize with the robot. I mean, who didn't want to kill Richard Benjamin in the 70s?

3. Enforcement Droid-Series 209 -- RoboCop (1987)

Kinney's death, which brings to vivid life the oft-savage nature of boardroom politics, reminds us of an adage familiar to everyone who's worked for any length of time in the corporate world: "Don't point a gun at a big fucking robot."

2. T-800 -- The Terminator (1984)

By turning the aptly named Terminator into a child-friendly help-o-bot that only shoots cops in the knees (apparently a life of painful disability is preferable to a quick death) in the sequel, James Cameron defanged one of the most efficient murder machines in movie history. At least we still have his past glory.

1. Gort -- The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Gort wins, because while some of the other examples listed above pack impressive armaments, he's the only one with the firepower to lay waste to an entire planet. Then again, it isn't like Klaatu stupidly gave the control phrase to the first pretty girl he came across. I'd hate to see him in a strip club.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar