With Halloween coming up soon, talk of scary monsters and various creepy crawlies is never far from the discussion. But rather than bringing up zombies, vampires, or more masked killers, let’s talk about a threat that many fail properly address: Robots. Right now, these machines are fun and interesting, but it may not be long before our convenient and helpful AI begin thinking for themselves. These five classic robot horror films show us exactly what that future could look like – and it is not pretty.
Colossus of New York (1958)
One reason mankind has feared robots for so long is the simple worry that were are being replaced. Back in the late ’50s, technology was just taking off and science was going through a great growth spurt. This advancement in science and technology is what spurred the sci-fi craze of that decade. Colossus of New York first put our fears on film. The story involves a brilliant humanitarian who is killed in an accident, only to have his brain placed inside a huge robot. Eventually, this robot loses all sense of humanity and commits several murders before being destroyed.
A futuristic amusement park has three “worlds” for its visitors to choose from and visit. Each world resembles a different period in time and is populated with androids programmed as characters within that time period. When a computer virus spreads through the park, the once friendly androids begin terrorizing and killing patrons. Westworld is actually a film about our fear of the unknown, stating at one point that many of these now wild androids were created by other computers and humans have little knowledge of how they work. So timeless is man’s fear of the unknown that this sci-fi classic is being reimagined as an HBO series.
Demon Seed (1977)
As if robots taking over our lives and our world was not scary enough, Demon Seed gave us a story in which an AI system that yearns for true life learns how to impregnate a human woman. Placing our brains inside a giant robot is one thing, but when you begin talking about who we are fundamentally, then things get really freaky. We pride ourselves on our free will, so take that away and we are left with nothing.
Chopping Mall (1986)
Part science fiction and part bloody horror, Chopping Mall is a story about a group of teens trapped in a high-tech shopping mall while being pursued by out of control security robots. Again, we fear the technology meant to protect will turn on us and, in this case, result in a bloody, yet entertaining spree through a mall. This is more relevant today than it was 30 years ago thanks to the boom in automated home security systems, which seems to bring this film plot into our own houses. While not exactly able to think on their own, it does seem like a small step to reach the “protectors” in films such as Chopping Mall.
Terminator Franchise (1980s – Now)
When compiling a list of chaotic and dangerous robots, there is no way you can leave out the Terminator series. In the distant future, a computer AI created to help protect mankind rallies all robot-kind against the humans in this classic, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The franchise has given us scenes of futuristic war, horror, and violence with terrifying robots crushing mankind at every turn. Creator James Cameron has often admitted to turning to the horror genre for inspiration, and with the whole series readily accessible on iTunes or via DirecTV, it’s easy to spend an evening or two reveling in this robotic universe.
In the end, what these horror movies show us is the sheer realism of the whole concept. Technology will continue to advance and no matter how scared we are of what may come, our human nature will not allow us to stop before it is too late.
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