We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is in theaters as we speak, and it got us thinkin'...great big robots that throw buildings and can squash us like bugs are pretty darned cool. In face, any robot, homicidal or heroic, is bound to make us happy, because we love huge, scary, mechanical obstacles human characters can barely survive. So, in honor of the epic battle between Autobots and Decepticons, we've brainstormed seven other big time, mechanical killers. Bring it on, Megatron.
- click here for complete "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" coverage including reviews, interviews and a day in the life of an extra
7. Maximum Overdrive - The Happy Toyz Co. Western Star 4800 Truck (1986)
Recap: Earth passes through the tail of a comet for three days, which causes everything electronic on the planet to spring to life and start killing everything in sight. Big duh. Everyone knows that's what happens when you pass through the tail of a comet. It's now up to Bill Robinson (Emilio Estevez) to save a ragtag group of survivors from the homicidal machines. Reason: Obviously, this isn't a good movie, but for some reason I've seen it dozens of times. Every time I was home sick from grade school, Maximum Overdrive was guaranteed to be on the movie channels; therefore, I feel particularly qualified to proclaim that the killer cars/hair dryers/ lawnmowers, etc. and so forth, in this movie are awesome. And none wields more evil awesomisity, then the giant Happy Toyz semi with the snarling green goblin face on its grill. It's rad and there's just no denying the fact. When you have a killer machine this bloodthirsty and cool, you tend to forgive how dumb the movie is; it's worth it to watch the devil truck eating everyone it can catch, its red eyes all aglow.
6. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Marvin, the Paranoid Android (2005)
Recap: When Earth is scheduled to be demolished to make room for an intergallactic freeway, Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) manages to hitch a ride on a passing spaceship with his alien friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def). Now Arthur is lost in the universe with no place to call home... Reason: Please God, everyone go read The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It's too amazing to be squeezed into a movie. That being said ... Marvin? Really? The harmless, melancholy little guy who spends all his time bemoaning his clinical depression? And to that I say, you watch that sneaky little bastard. Is he going to jump out at you with a laser gun? No, but he's going to work on you until you are at your lowest emotional point and then he's going to recommend that you just go ahead and kill yourself, because life is just that awful. There you are, vulnerable and sad, when Marvin creeps up behind you and lets you know that it ain't getting any better. It's all downhill from here. Why not just throw yourself out the window? He'll even hold the window open for you. There you go.
5. Screamers - Screamers (1995)
Recap: On a distant mining planet (which is pretty much all I need to say and you're in, right?), scientists invented killer robots known as Screamers. The robots were supposed to wipe out the enemy, but, as robots do, they have evolved into independent thinkers and now they want to kill the heck out of every-damn-body. Reason: Think Pitch Black, except we're not dealing with the most highly evolved nocturnal beasts in the known universe - we're dealing with the most highly evolved, subterranean robot army in the known universe. Will this movie make you smarter or improve your life in any shape? Nuh-uh. But for those of us who happily devour fluffy movies, it's a keeper. The screamers truly kick ass.
4. Terminator 2: Judgement Day - The Terminator T-1000 (1991)
Recap: It's now the '90s and Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) is still alive, much to the chagrin of humanity's evil robot warlords from the future. Sarah has since been locked away for raving about evil robot warlords from the future, and her son, John Connor (Edward Furlong), is a feral miscreant out on the streets. This time the ERW decide to send the T-1000, because it's a liquid metal shapeshifter, and that is totally bitchin'. Reason: Out of - possibly misguided - respect for the original terminator, the T-1000 takes a backseat. But if the two models were in a footrace, I'm afraid there would be no outpacing the T-1000. Played with an eerie, flat affectation by Robert Patrick, not only is this one cool robot, but the special effects were mindboggling for the time. Watching the T-1000 liquefy and drop through holes, just to re-solidify into the ominously serene highway patrolman, was one of the raddest things any of us had ever seen.
3. The Terminator - The Terminator T-800 (1984)
Recap: A cyborg called the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent back to 1984 to kill Sarah Conner (Hamilton), the future mother of the freedom fighter who is fated to save humanity. Reason: The first terminator we really got to know and love was the T-800, and it has earned a special place in our hearts. In fact, the T-800 may have been the first robot to show a flare for punk rock fashion, choosing leather pants and black sunglasses instead of making any effort to blend. Part of the reason killer robots are so fun to watch is that they are killing in a very cold and logical way; the T-800 was programmed to kill Sarah Conner, but he did it with balls and he did it with style. How many robots can you say that about?
2. The Matrix - Agent Smith (1999)
Recap: Computer hacker extraordinaire, Neo (Keanu Reeves), is ripped from the fabric of his false reality and thrust into a future dominated by evil robot warlords. These particular ERW are much more energy conscious, using humans as little batteries to keep the machines running smoothly. Neo must find a way to liberate humankind. Reason: I know, I know - technically Agent Smith is a computer program operating INSIDE a killer robot, but I couldn't. I could not remove Smith from the list, and I could not force him into any other number than a solid number 2. It's cheating and I do feel badly, but Agent Smith belongs here. Played with strange mechanical smugness (if that's possible) by Australian actor Hugo Weaving, Smith is one of the greatest characters/villains of all time. When Agent Smith smoothly goes into his "humans are a virus" soliloquy, we are all of us held spellbound by the level drawl and the irrefutable logic. Yes! We are a virus! And you were so cool when you explained it to us!
1. 2001 - Hal 9000 (1968)
Recap: Mankind discovers a mysterious monolith on the moon and a crew sets out to study it. While en route, astronauts Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) decide it is crucial that they disconnect their ship's AI, HAL. HAL gets wind of the plan and proceeds to wipe almost everyone out. Reason: Killer robots have been around for a long time, but HAL brought the calm, deliberate, soft-spoken annihilation of the human race to a whole new level. If killer robots were basketball greats, HAL would be Wilt Chamberlain. Robot Killers have gotten fancier and flashier and nastier, but they are standing on the shoulders of HAL (so to speak...since HAL doesn't REALLY have shoulders). HAL, hats off to you. We will forever more find ourselves saying, "What are you doing, Dave?" in a calm, creepy monotone.