Partly in preparation for the impending release of T3, partly because I’ve been describing my Animated Musical as “Terminator meets West Side Story,” we watched T and T2 back-to-back last night. Pertinent findings: 1) That’s a lot more Linda Hamilton than the average human constitution is prepared for, and 2) my worries about having taken too much inspiration from films I hadn’t seen for 19 and 12 years, respectively, were unfounded.
And besides, at the end of the Terminator DVD, there’s an unusual credit, “acknowledging the works of Harlan Ellison,” which prompted me to IMDb to see what’s up. Turns out Cameron bragged on the set about “stealing the idea for the movie from a couple of episodes of Outer Limits.” As Cory “BoingBoing Doctorow points out in his countdown of the greatest sci-fi lawsuits ever, Ellison figured it out, too, since the similarities are rather glaring. So he sued Cameron. Several times. And he took out big ads in Variety slamming Cameron for the, um, homage. The verdict: don’ t piss off a guy who cooks up indestructible killing machines for a living.
Another unheralded precedent, for SkyNet is the little-seen Colossus: The Forbin Project, a bleak 1970 film by Joseph Sargent about the disasters that ensue from turning global defense over to a supercomputer. It’s probably not worth getting a laserdisc player for, but I’m looking forward to seeing it.