They keep coming and coming and don’t let up. They’ll hunt you down and kill you without mercy. They have no soul. They’re impervious to pain. They are dead inside, unable to feel empathy or feel anything for that matter. They will not rest until every single human soul lies dead under their feet.
If you think I’m talking about terminators, raise your hands. C’mon, don’t be shy. They sound like terminators, don’t they? They’re not, at least not in my book. I’m talking about zombies. How many of you guessed right? Well, you’re wrong, too. They’re terminators. Not sure, are you? Welcome to another edition of Monday Mayhem.
For those not familiar with the origins of The Terminator movie, one day, director James Cameron was suffering from a very high fever when in the midst of his dreams a metal skull appeared to him. It had burst into flames and filled his mind in a frenzy of horror. When he awoke, he immediately took to his typewriter and within twenty-four hours had the treatment written of The Terminator. Just like that.
For those unfamiliar with a film treatment, it’s a short story written in present tense prose with a liberal dollop of the director’s style. It’s much more detailed than an outline.
The idea behind The Terminator lies in man’s quest for immortality. A terminator does not feel, does not ponder on life’s great mysteries, does not fill its head with silly arguments of what is right and wrong. It roams and kills. Nothing more. Not much different from the undead, really.
Let’s have a look at similarities between terminators and zombies.
Persistence—Terminators do not know when to give up. They will keep coming after its target until either it dies a terrible death or its battery depletes. The likelihood of its battery depleting is next to zero. Therefore, you can run it down, drive a metal rod through its body, crush it with a steel girder, and blow it up. It will still come after you without relent. A zombie works the same way. Once it spots its victim, it will stop at nothing to capture it. Other than a shotgun blast to the head, nothing will deter it from its aim to make human its main dinner dish. It will keep coming and coming. It will not stop until we’re all dead.
Roaming—Those treacherous endoskeletons travel long distances to achieve their mission objective. They smash through doors, crash through windows, overcome gun blast wounds all for the sake of killing their targets. They’ll even drag their way to them if they have to, which is no different from the undead who chase after their prey. No manner of defense will discourage zombies from their inordinate plan to attack and dismember their victims. And yes, they’ll also drag to capture their victim.
Unfeeling—The driving force behind a terminator is its mission to kill its target. It does not care if its intended target has a family. It does not equate the loss of life to the loss of a relationship. Its design dictates merciless killing as its goal. In much the same way, a zombie’s ultimate quest is to satiate its craving for human. It has no empathy for the potential loss of a brilliant life. It doesn’t understand the bond between humans, the love of a parent for a child, the love of a mate for a mate. It possesses no heart. It does not cry for its victim nor does it rejoice after the killing. It can’t do any of that because it simply does not feel. How dreadful a life when a sentient life walks the earth soulless, empty and void.
Regardless of the many similarities mentioned, and I’m sure you can think of more, you know what I would find interesting? Instead of terminators and zombies going after humans, why not have them in a massive battle against each other? Wouldn’t that be something to look forward? But I think we’d know who would win.
Can you think of other similarities between the metal endoskeletons and the undead?
14 thoughts on “Terminators vs. Zombies”
Agree with the comments, what a fascinating battle your post suggests.
Now that would be something to see, a battle between zombies and terminators! 🙂 Great post!
I think zombies are at a disadvantage because it’s hard to sneak up on folks when you smell that bad. I learned that in high school gym class.
Ha! Good one, Ned! 🙂
As much as I love both, I never made the connection between terminators and zombies. Thanks for shining the light on this for us!
The first terminator is one of my all time favourite films. It’s brilliantly imagined sci-fi and it’s tense, atmospheric and fast-paced with dash of black humour. The casting of Arnie as the killer cyborg was a stroke of genius. Unfortunately I found the rest of the films in the franchise a massive let down.
I think 1 & 2 were amazing. The 2nd one is actually in my top 10 list. A lot of that had to do with Linda Hamilton’s utter grittiness though.
I enjoyed the 2nd film, but I found it a bit too “comedy” at times for my taste, and I much preferred Arnie as the bad guy – he was perfectly cast in the first film as the unstoppable, emotionless, cyborg, killing machine. Plus, for me, it just doesn’t have the constant and oppressive tension of the first film.
I see what you’re saying. I enjoyed the tension-and-release that it had, and the funny parts were intriguing to me because behind all of them, I could somewhat imaging the T-800 processing its interactions with humans and trying to correlate its data experiences into algorithms that approached “understanding”. It was kind of like two completely different cultures interacting. Some of it made for funny moments, but others made for sad moments when I realized that the machine wouldn’t “get” human experiences in a human lifetime. It would probably understand a single person’s nuances to an extent, but overall, it wouldn’t be able to apply that to everyone.
Damned autocorrect. That should be “imagine”, not “imaging”.
Agreed, Stevie. It’s one of my favorites as well. That scene with Linda Hamilton on the scooter for that small, infinitesimal moment in the movie is so great. I still watch that part thinking, wow, what a time it was to watch that movie when it first came out!
Yes, at the time Terminator seemed so fresh and original; there had been nothing like it before. I love the story that Arnie wanted to play Kyle Reese and Cameron had to really work on him in convincing him to play the terminator. He promised him that it would make him a big star and it really did!
You know, the boy and I were talking about that this weekend (because we just found out that Terminator 1 is on Netflix), They made a big deal in 1 about how the ‘skin’ on the exoskeleton was human. I was kind of grossed out when it started to sort of rot away and stink up the place the more Arnold got pummeled – placing him right there in Zombie territory!
The first terminator had something incredible to it that I have yet to place my finger on. It was striking and undeniable how this movie spawned such a vast empire of franchises. But, yeah, it would be right there in zombie territory when the skin rotted from the endoskeleton. Fun times, eh, Katie? 😉