Malevolent Machinery: The Five Scariest Movie Robots
There’s nothing worse than a piece of evil or malfunctioning machinery. What could be scarier than a machine that is not only crazy enough to turn against humans, but also has superhuman strength and no moral qualms about randomly murdering you and your friends just because it needs a serious virus scan and restart? Especially if said piece of machinery happens to look uncannily like a normal human being?
Here at Movie Farm, we say ‘not much.’
The movie Gods worked this one out quite some time ago; almost since the earliest days of cinema, evil androids have been enthralling film fans the world over, thrilling and terrifying by turns. Here are five of the scariest, deadliest robots you will ever find on your screen. Which one terrifies you the most? Let us know via Twitter!
Ash (Alien, 1979)
Before he became universally known as Bilbo Baggins, actor Ian Holm was mainly referred to as ‘that guy who played that scientist in the first Alien film who turned out to be a crazy murderous robot.’ That’s right; long before lovable old Bilbo came along, Ian Holm was playing Ash, an unassuming science officer who was revealed as a homicidal android with secret orders: ‘bring back alien life form. Crew expendable.’ In one memorably graphic scene, Ash attempts to strangle our heroine Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) by forcing a rolled up magazine down her throat. Lovely.
Scare rating: Spine-chilling. Ash is calculating and computer-like, but follows his orders with an unsettling degree of cold pleasure.
Deadliness rating: Although he fails to kills Ripley, Ash is still pretty deadly; he is the crew member who overrides Ripley’s order, opening the hatch and bringing Kane (complete with facehugger) onto the ship. Therefore, he’s pretty much responsible for everyone who dies after that.
The Terminator (The Terminator, 1984)
He’s a big bad cyborg with a penchant for dark shades, leather jackets and powerful guns – and he’s played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. So deadly that he doesn’t even have a proper name, the Terminator is sent back in time to murder a woman named Sarah Connor. In the time the Terminator has come from the world has been taken over by self-aware machines, while the human resistance is being led by one John Connor – Sarah Connor’s son. Tasked with killing Sarah before she can give birth to the future freedom fighter, the Terminator blasts his way around Los Angeles (and looks darn cool while he’s doing it).
Scare rating: Petrifying. This guy will stop at nothing until he kills you (seriously – Sarah finally had to crush him in a hydraulic press) and doesn’t care who gets in the way.
Deadliness rating: He’s called the Terminator. Not Jack, or Dave, or Paul, but the Terminator. On-screen, he kills a total of 26 people.
Roy Batty (Blade Runner, 1982)
Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) is the leader of a rogue group of Nexus 6 Replicants. The Replicants look exactly like humans and are incredibly strong and intelligent. However, they have an inbuilt lifespan of only four years, and are very ticked off about it. Roy leads his renegade Replicants in an attempt to extend their life spans as Blade Runner Deckard (Harrison Ford) attempts to hunt them down.
Scare rating: Unnerving. Angry and murderous he may be, but Roy is really a child trapped in adult form; he finds beauty in small things and gives amazing philosophical speeches.
Deadliness rating: He murders several people in pretty horrible ways, including his own ‘father’ (by crushing his head with his bare hands). He almost succeeds in killing Deckard, before changing his mind at the last minute.
The T-1000 (Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 1991)
A much slicker, smarter model than the Terminator, the T-1000 is a sneaky liquid metal monster that can morph into anything it touches, including a stern street cop (Robert Patrick). In Judgement Day, another version of the original Terminator (Arnie again, reprogrammed to act nice) must protect Sarah and John Connor from this new and dangerous threat. Not only can the T-1000 morph into anybody, it can also mimic their voices to trick you.
Scare rating: Uncanny. Technically, the T-1000 could morph into you – and then you could be murdered by an exact copy of yourself. Creepy…
Deadliness rating: The T-1000 is tough to beat when it comes to murder. He only kills seven times over the course of the film (lagging far behind Arnie’s 26 kills in the first movie), but he’s really nasty about it. Plus, one of his seven kills (depending on which cut of the film you’re watching) is John’s pet dog Max – making him officially an evil so-and-so.
HAL-9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968)
HAL-9000 isn’t strictly a robot – he’s a supercomputer, in control of the Discovery One spacecraft. But, considering that he is listed by the American Film Institute as the 13th greatest film villain ever, he certainly deserves a place among the five scariest movie robots. Programmed to lie to the astronauts about the true purpose of their mission, HAL malfunctions spectacularly, attempting to murder them one by one. Personified on-screen only by a small red dot and the chillingly friendly tones of Douglas Rain (‘I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that’) HAL manages to be a truly horrific addition to the evil robot canon.
Scare rating: Mind-numbing. It takes a few watches to really get to grips with HAL’s motivations, but after a while it becomes clear (as with most other evil robot stories) that it’s all our own fault. HAL only turns to murder because he has been programmed to lie by humans; his robotic mind just can’t handle it. As far as he’s concerned, he’s only following orders.
Deadliness rating: HAL only manages to kill two astronauts before he is shut down – but, considering that there were only three astronauts on board to begin with, he’s batting at almost one hundred per cent.
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