Monday Movie: The Terminator
James Cameron's first proper film as director (charitably ignoring Piranha 2) is essentially structured as a typical serial killer film, albeit with numerous apocalyptic embellishments. But while The Terminator may revolve around Arnie's career-defining role as a relentless cyborg assassin, Michael Biehn's doe-eyed, raving performance as a fugitive from a future war is arguably more convincing; Linda Hamilton is a cut above the usual final girl; even Paul Winfield and Lance Henriksen manage memorable turns as misguided but well-meaning cops.
Yes, okay, the sequel may provide a great deal more in the way of both spectacle and humanity, but it achieves this by building on the remarkable mythology of the original. As a future history, the bleakness and intensity of this film's mechanised, post-nuclear genocide is second to none.