Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Come with me if you want to live
We watched Terminator 2: Judgment Day recently. My son had never seen it and I was interested to see how it held up after all these years. I'm not sure I've watched it all the way through since I went to see it at the cinema on its release in 1991.
And that seems a lifetime ago.
Another reason for watching it was that the movie was definitely in the back of my mind when I was writing Mister Creecher. The idea of teaming two misfits - one a teenager, the other a kind of superhuman - certainly had something to do with my memory of Terminator 2. In particular, the scene where John Connor realises that he can make the terminator do whatever he says. The glee with which he realises that he has a near-indestructible killing machine at his disposal is immediately tempered by his feeling of responsibility as soon as the terminator starts to act on his orders. I knew I wanted that tension to exist in my novel - although Billy never actually has control over Mister Creecher in that way.
My story is a lot darker though, and the issue of who the 'monster' is in the book is deliberately blurred. It is comforting to believe that monsters are something other. I wanted to deliberately make my humans capable of anything. That is true to Mary Shelley's novel after all. The creature in Frankenstein is a blank slate. He is taught to be a monster by the humans he meets - chief among them his creator, Victor Frankenstein.
There is a continuing confusion in the public mind between Frankenstein and his creature. Which is ironic in a way - Victor Frankenstein being the true monster of the novel.
The special effects in Terminator 2 are not the thrill they once were. They are OK, but those morphing effects are commonplace now. The actual body-morphing of Linda Hamilton now seems more impressive than the virtual ones of the T-100o terminator. Although Robert Patrick's performance as the T-1000 is still superb. He invests the role with far more gravitas than it deserves and it really works. I love the way he runs. I like the way Sarah Connor becomes a terminator too. It reminded me of the way Ripley starts to act like an alien in Alien Resurrection (another movie franchise that owes a debt to Frankenstein)
It was good fun watching T2 again, but I had forgotten quite how cheesy the ending is. Not only is it shamelessly and inappropriately sentimental in a movie with such a cynical and world-weary view of mankind, but it also harks back to the old horror movie endings. Arnold Schwarzenegger could almost be Lon Chaney Jnr as he descends into the molten steel, although the garish colour is maybe more Hammer than Universal.