Why The Terminator Franchise Should Return To Its Slasher Horror Roots

James Cameron’s
The Terminator closely followed the template of slasher films of the early 1980s while adding a time travel twist, and future movies in the franchise should get back to those horror roots.  James Cameron began his career in horror, helming 
Piranha II: The Spawning, and he used the experience of making a low-budget horror film for the high concept premise of
The Terminator. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator in the original film was an unstoppable killing machine stalking “final girl” Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), not unlike the iconic slasher movie villains Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees that proceeded him.,However, the following sequels abandoned the horror elements that made the original Terminator so intense exclusively favoring sci-fi and action, much to the detriment of the franchise.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day took a wildly different approach to the Terminator character, portraying him as a sympathetic hero instead of a villain. Filling in for the villain role was Robert Patrick’s T-1000, a liquid metal Terminator who could mimic other people and form his appendages into blunt weapons. While the T-1000 was a terrifying presence, the very nature of its shape-shifting form moved the film’s threat from a humanoid terror into full uncanny sci-fi territory, distancing itself from the grounded horror of the original film’s Terminator.,Related: The Original Terminator 2 (Before James Cameron),While
Terminator 2 is widely regarded as one of the best sequels of all time, the
Terminator franchise needs to go back to the original Terminator’s slasher movie roots is that every sequel following
T2 tried to mimic its success to increasingly diminished effect. The franchise’s villains became more over-the-top, whether it’s the Transformer-like T-X of 
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines or the nanomachine hybrid that John Connor became in 
Terminator Genisys. The need to constantly one-up the T-1000 resulted in fantastical villains who strayed further from the simple horrors of the original’s T-800. The films suffered as a result, with the focus being put on increasingly complex sci-fi instead of the heart of it still being a horror-tinged story of survival.,The closest film to get back to the gritty nature of the original
Terminator was 
Terminator 
Salvation, which pitted humans against machines in the distant future of 2018, focusing on John Connor’s resistance fighters. Making director McG’s 
Terminator 
Salvation more of a war film than a sci-fi action somewhat grounded it in reality, but the futuristic setting made it difficult to sympathize with the protagonists. Despite occasional flashes of it in the sequels, the simplicity of the original
Terminator film and the relatability of Sarah Connor dealing with unknown futuristic horrors has been sorely missed in the subsequent films in the franchise.,James Cameron’s
The Terminator benefited from having a low budget and a director who understands how to ground a simple time travel story with horror. Giving Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator the characteristics of a slasher villain in the original film gave it a terrifying intensity that has not been felt in the series since. The increasingly complex storylines and villains of the
Terminator franchise would benefit from giving the spotlight back to the original’s slasher horror sensibilities.,Next: Why Every Terminator Movie Features A Crawling Terminator