The Journal of Popular and American Culture

User menu

The Mechanical Monster, The Cyber-Slasher: Understanding The Terminator as a Horror Film

still from Terminator film with the title character engulfed in flames

With time travel, cybernetic organisms, lasers, machine guns, and warfare, it is easy to see why audiences often identify James Cameron’s The Terminator (1984) as a straightforward hybrid between the action and science fiction genres. Starring a young, buff Arnold Schwarzenegger, the film buys into many of the hyper-masculine hard-bodied action movie traits popularized during the 1980s, and its narrative celebrates humanity’s triumph over technology, echoing a timely conservative sentiment regarding humankind’s capable raw spirit. However, The Terminator does not cast Schwarzenegger as the victorious human protagonist. Despite having the most impressively muscular male body of anyone in the film, Schwarzenegger does not play a heroic man. In fact, he does not play a man at all, but rather an antagonistic robot. Meanwhile, the film’s hero, who eventually bests the android, is not a man either, but a young woman named Sarah Connor. A female protagonist defeating a monstrous male figure does not necessarily fit the generic American action film’s mold, yet settles rather nicely within horror film’s iconography. Although rarely, if ever, considered within the genre, The Terminator may very well exemplify a horror movie just as much as it exemplifies an action or science fiction movie. Using horror film scholarship and scenes from the movie as evidence, this article aims to illuminate how viewers can understand James Cameron’s The Terminator as a horror film, particularly analyzing the Terminator cyborg as a generic slasher-monster, and Sarah Connor as an exemplar of the Final Girl archetype.

Narratively, The Terminator involves a futuristic war between mankind and an army of nearly indestructible humanoid machines called “Terminators.” However, the film only ever displays the war itself through brief flashbacks and dialogue. The majority of the plot takes place when one Terminator (played by Schwarzenegger) goes back in time to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor before she gives birth to her son (and mankind’s future militant leader) John Connor. Meanwhile, in an effort to prevent the Terminator from succeeding, the future’s human resistance also sends one of their soldiers, Kyle Reese, back in time to protect Sarah. Because the Terminator only knows Sarah’s name and general location, he goes through the phonebook killing every Sarah Connor in Los Angeles. Only when he gets to his intended target does Reese come between the two of them. From there on, the Terminator stalks them, making attempts against their lives and stopping at nothing to complete his deadly mission.

Even though this paper defends The Terminator as a horror film, elements of science fiction and action clearly prevail in the movie’s storyline. This comes as little surprise, for science fiction and horror actually overlap quite often. Both genres frequently incorporate supernaturalism, twisted phenomena, and unworldly monsters into their wide-ranging narratives. One only needs to watch renowned films such as Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) and The Thing (Howard Hawks, 1951), or the latter film’s subsequent remake (John Carpenter, 1982), to see how a single movie can succeed in becoming influential across both genres simultaneously. Film scholar Bruce F. Kawin studies science fiction and horror’s iconographic similarities and differences in his essay, “Children of the Light.” He argues, “Horror and science fiction, then are different because of their attitudes towards curiosity and the openness of systems, and comparable in that both tend to organize themselves around some confrontation between an unknown and a would-be knower.”1 Essentially, horror’s attitude towards curiosity unravels itself in the unconscious, creating a sinister experience for the viewer, whereas science fiction addresses curiosity in the conscious mind, typically (but not always) making for a more optimistic viewing experience focused towards the future’s possibilities. Encompassing time travel and a war that will not take place until 2029, The Terminator’s unique temporal scheme definitely makes viewers consider the future, but the future it presents comes across as gravely treacherous. During the few scenes in which the audience actually sees the future directly, desperate soldiers die in action, crippled families suffer in meager shelters, and vicious robots spread mayhem across a wasteland of human remains. The constant dreary music, low-key lighting, and lack of dialogue in these sequences further reinforce a gloomy, soulless atmosphere. While depicting the future may seem like a distinctly science fiction trope, The Terminator effectively bends it into something horrifying.

Continuing with his discussion regarding consciousness, Kawin also explains that horror fascinates the audience by unveiling repressed mysteries in the viewer’s mind, whereas science fiction stimulates the brain’s more outward, actively quizzical layers. He says that horror films “lead us through a structure that shows us something useful… because so many of them are psychologically oriented or psychoanalyzable,” while science fiction films tickle “the part of the brain that enjoys speculating on technology, gimmicks, and the perfectible future.”2 In addition to how it portrays the future as intensely depressing, The Terminator also offers a bit of horrific mystery through the murderous android himself. Because viewers do not fully understand the Terminator, they wonder what it is, how it operates, and what makes it so durable, engaging that “psychoanalyzable” curiosity. As audiences come to view the cyborg as a high-mimetic threat to the protagonist, they start wondering how (or if) humans can destroy it. When Reese first explains the Terminator’s purpose to Sarah, she asks, “Can you stop it?” to which he disgruntledly responds, “I don’t know.” The viewer identifies with Sarah here, wondering if anything can deter her seemingly immortal hunter. Then Reese, smoothly moving the suspenseful horror plot along, responds with nothing but powerless uncertainty.

Defying human expectations, victimizing the protagonists, and evoking dark questions for viewers and characters alike, the Terminator seems to epitomize the generic horror movie monster. In The Horror Film, Peter Hutchings explains how horror monsters often distinguish themselves from other antagonists by somehow transcending strict societal binaries. He writes, “Monsters can be categorically interstitial or contradictory, i.e. they blur or undermine distinctions between categories such as, for example, the living and the dead … human and animal … or human and vegetable.”3 The Terminator blends such categories quite transparently by crossing the line between man and machine. While he seems entirely human on the exterior, the visible human tissue just covers up an inner robotic skeleton. This builds suspense in the movie’s beginning, as the viewer cannot tell what distinguishes the Terminator from a normal human. It also creates an early question as to whether or not Reese poses a similar threat, for when the two characters first arrive in 1984 at the film’s beginning, they both appear as fully humanoid figures. Therefore, the viewer cannot figure out the biological or moral distinctions between them until they both come into contact with Sarah.

In terms of horror film monsters, the Terminator could thus be seen as a quasi-fusion figure. Noel Carroll introduces the idea of fusion figures in The Philosophy of Horror: Or, Paradoxes of the Heart as a category of monsters within the horror genre. Borrowing from anthropologist Mary Douglas’s study of societal categorization, Carroll explains, “The central mark of a fusion figure is the compounding of ordinarily disjoint or conflicting categories in an integral, spatio-temporally unified individual.”4 This term applies most keenly to monsters such as ghosts, vampires, and zombies, who exist at a constant intersection between life and death. The Terminator offers an interesting case, however, for while traditional ghosts, vampires, and zombies all once lived human lives before ending up in this unfortunate space between two absolutes, the Terminator never existed as a full human, but was created as a human-looking machine. On the one hand, viewers could interpret this as a comforting sign that the Terminator leans closer to an absolute. However, they could alternatively read it as an even deeper disturbance, for the antagonist does not conform to a space evenly fitted between two boundaries. Instead, he floats around freely in the abyss, completely separated from any logical order whatsoever.

In all characters’ attempts to rationalize the Terminator’s existence in the 1984 diegetic reality, the cyborg always comes around to defy logical order with supernatural abilities and excessive violence. Hutchings further explains that “one possible way of separating out horror monsters from villains in other genres is by stipulating that these monsters should not only be dangerous but ‘impure’ or ‘unnatural’ ” and that “the horror monster is a kind of pollutant” to order.5 Nowhere in The Terminator does this appear as blatantly as when the police finally get hold of Sarah after Reese rescues her from the robot’s first attempt on her life. During that first attempt, Sarah sees the Terminator take several bullets to the chest and back without serious damage. She also witnesses him smash his arm through a car windshield to try and grab her. Up until Sarah and Reese arrive at the police station, the officers assume that the Sarah Connor phonebook murderer is no more than a methodic serial killer, but once they get to the station, a criminal psychiatrist questions Reese. During the interrogation, Reese explains his position as a soldier from the future war against the machines, and how he traveled back in time to protect Sarah. Rationally, the doctor does not believe him. As the doctor, police chief, deputy, and Sarah review the interrogation footage in the chief’s office, the doctor pauses the tape after Reese describes the Terminator as a robot “surrounded by living tissue.” The doctor laughs in fascination and says, “This is great stuff; I could make a career out of this guy. You see how clever this part is? How it doesn’t require a shred of proof? Most paranoid delusions are intricate, but this is brilliant.” He completely denies that Reese tells the truth. In fact, he does not even acknowledge the Terminator as a threat, and selfishly gloats over Reese as an interesting case study that could advance his career. His commitment to logic breeds a naive arrogance for order, which carries no weight against the monster.

In that same scene, the doctor then resumes playing the tape, which shows Reese growing frustrated with the copious ignorant questions. He eventually looks directly at the camera and shouts, “You just don’t get it do you? He’ll find her. That’s what he does. That’s all he does. You can’t stop him. He’ll wade through you, reach down her throat and pull her fucking heart out.” All the while, the camera eerily cuts back and forth between closer and closer shot-reverse-shots of Reese yelling at the camera and Sarah watching the video monitor with an increasingly anxious expression. After the chief insists on stopping the video, Sarah says “So Reese is crazy?” to which the doctor replies in a sarcastically professional tone, “In technical terms, he’s a loon,” once again displaying his foolishly disrespectful and erroneous assessment of the situation.

In the next shot, the Chief gives Sarah an armored vest to wear, explaining how it can stop a twelve gauge round. When Sarah brings up the fact that the Terminator punched through a windshield, the deputy in the room confidently hypothesizes, “He was probably on PCP; He probably broke every bone in his hand and didn’t feel it for hours.” Yet again, the cops responsible for establishing order and keeping Sarah safe cannot dare comprehend the monster for what he really is. The Terminator goes against all rationality, and Reese—the only one who accepts and understands what threatens Sarah—ends up detained for speaking the truth. Before the chief settles Sarah to rest on his office couch, he reassures her, “You’re perfectly safe; we’ve got thirty cops in this building,” making a final oblivious statement without realizing that no number of cops stand a chance against this enemy. Eventually, he finds this out the hard way, when the Terminator crashes a hijacked car into the station and effortlessly mows down all of the armed officers. The police pose no challenge, as the monster calmly, yet violently, makes his way towards Sarah. Luckily, Sarah and Reese escape before he reaches them.

By this point in the film, the Terminator’s human exterior is battered and torn. As aforementioned, the robot’s first assault on Sarah ends in Reese shooting him several times. It also involves him being thrown off of a moving vehicle and getting into several other car crashes. Thus, interjected between Sarah and Reese’s sequences at the police station, a few short scenes show the Terminator repairing himself in what seems to be an abandoned apartment. With utterly gross visuals, these scenes perhaps offer the most straightforward horror iconography in the entire movie. After the Terminator enters through a window in the dark, he turns on the light, revealing a gruesome close-up of his severely tattered face. One of his eyes swells shut and a large scar stretches across half of his head. He then sits down at a desk, takes off his right glove, and pulls up his sleeve, revealing a deep gash on his inner forearm. A close-up then shows him picking up a scalpel, and the camera does not bother to turn away as he makes an incision around the wound. The accompanying gushy noise evokes a grotesque sensation for the audience as the Terminator stoically and painlessly inflicts self-violence, emphasizing his inhumanness.

After putting the bloody scalpel back on the desk, the Terminator picks up a pair of scissors. The camera pans from his face down to his arm, as he peels back the skin to reveal his gaping injury. In a few extreme close-ups, the viewer sees that within the Terminator’s forearms, metal rods and wires slide like bones and tendons as he moves his fingers. This repulsive scene strongly captures the horror monster that Carroll also explores in The Philosophy of Horror: Or, Paradoxes of the Heart. As previously stated, part of the horror film’s audience-appeal involves curiosity about the monster. While Reese’s explanations for the Terminator help satisfy this curiosity throughout the film, scenes like this that display the monster in nauseatingly exposed manners satisfy it even more profoundly. As Carroll puts it, “The disgust that such beings evince might be seen as part of the price to be paid for the pleasure of their disclosure.”6 Hence, even though seeing the cyborg dissect his own arm may evoke sickening reactions from viewers, Carroll suggests that they will keep watching just to see what answers lie in the mysterious mechanics beneath his flesh.

During a later scene in the same abandoned hideout, the repulsion intensifies as the Terminator tends to his wounded eye. Again, the camera does not spare any visuals as the cyborg inserts the scalpel directly into his gory cornea. He pulls the eyeball out from its socket, letting it fall into the sink with a few drops of blood. The camera then uses exclusively profile shots of the robot’s head as he nonchalantly soaks his bloody face with a spare towel. This builds tension for when he finally removes the cloth and the camera cuts back to a frontal shot of his face, revealing what hid behind the severed eye all along. Extreme close-ups capture a red light that dilates within the empty socket. The viewer uneasily realizes that the robot actually sees with this device, and that nothing organic exists underneath his human appearance. As Hutchings suggests, “The sight of our own internal organs is abject because it reminds us of our connection with a biological world against which … our identities have been constructed.”7 Building on Julia Kristeva’s theorization of abjection in Powers of Horror: An Essay of Abjection, Hutchings uses it here to denote the process whereby people avoid and block out images and ideas that bring the aforementioned human categorical binaries into the foreground. In this case, seeing organs violently cut into, opened up, and removed reminds viewers of many unsettling realities and bodily vulnerabilities that most people repress. Once again, though, The Terminator serves as a unique exception, for while watching the eponymous character bleed and slice open his flesh remains ghastly, beneath the skin lies something distinctly non-human, which viewers can find either comfortingly distant or uneasily defiant. As the film progresses throughout its second half, the Terminator becomes less and less humanlike, getting more scarred after each violent encounter until the movie’s climax, when Reese and Sarah blow up an oil truck and his flesh burns off entirely, leaving him as no more than a mechanical skeleton.

Nevertheless, once stripped down to this strictly metallic state, the Terminator does not cease to pursue Sarah. Rising from the inferno, his robotic body continues chasing his targets into a factory. To block the Terminator’s tracking abilities, Reese turns on all of the factory floor’s machinery. The setting thus becomes a shape-shifting horror labyrinth for the scene, with tight, intricate machine parts moving around as the heroes try outrunning the monster. Still, the Terminator eventually corners them, and a wounded Reese insists that Sarah runs as he defensively whacks the android around with a metal rod. Predictably, the beating does not faze the Terminator, and once Reese exhausts himself, the robot easily throws him to the ground. Before the Terminator gets a chance to fatally crush him, though, Reese lights a flare and sticks it in the robot’s wiring, sacrificing himself to explode the machine into fragments. Even then, however, the Terminator’s remaining intact torso, arm, and head continue after Sarah, leaving her alone to assume the horror film role of Final Girl and defeat the monster on her own.

Sarah Connor’s trajectory as the Final Girl begins long before this late scene, and analyzing it requires seeing The Terminator not just as a horror film, but as a slasher film in particular. According to horror film scholar Carol J. Clover, in order for the Final Girl to survive the plot in the slasher films, she must remain celibate, because “the male viewer may be willing to enter into the vicarious experience of defending himself from the possibility of symbolic penetration on the part of the killer, but real vaginal penetration on the diegetic level is evidently more femaleness than he can bear.”8 Sarah certainly seems to capture this sexual abstinence in the film’s first part. Despite being unorganized and somewhat directionless, she enters the story as a very innocent character. While the movie’s first two scenes take place at night, showing the naked Terminator and Reese emerging from the future and immediately finding themselves in tense situations, Sarah arrives in the third scene on a sunny morning, conservatively dressed in light clothes and riding a moped as soft piano music plays. In contrast to the two male characters, Sarah appears as a sobering presence.

The movie further emphasizes Sarah’s purity in a more sexual context when placing her next to her roommate, Ginger. Unlike Sarah, Ginger has a loud personality and a more promiscuous mind. In a later scene during the film’s first act, Sarah and Ginger prepare to go out for the night, but just as they finish getting ready in their apartment, Sarah’s date calls to cancel. While disappointed, Sarah takes the news calmly, whereas Ginger appears more outraged, complaining, “He can’t treat you like this—it’s Friday night for Christ’s sake.” Sarah just shrugs and cradles her pet iguana, baby-talking him and kissing his head in a very maternal fashion. She appears nurturing and caring, especially in contrast to Ginger. Then, after Sarah resolves to go out to a movie on her own, Ginger and her boyfriend have sex in the apartment. The two continue their intercourse even when police call to notify Sarah about the phonebook killings; despite hearing the phone ring, the couple ignores it and drowns out the noise with loud rock-n-roll music.

Unsurprisingly, the Terminator shows up in the apartment later that night. Thinking Ginger is Sarah, he murders both her and her boyfriend. Interestingly, he first kills the boyfriend in a scrappy fight, but then shoots Ginger in the back as she runs away wearing only a loose bathrobe. While the Terminator is hardly a sexually-motivated killer in the tradition of the slasher figure in slasher films, Clover explains that in such films the “killer’s phallic purpose, as he thrusts his drill or knife into the trembling bodies of young women, is unmistakable. At the same time, however, his masculinity is severely qualified,” for he can range from sexually frustrated, to asexual, to sexually indifferent—as seen in the case of the Terminator.9 Thus, even though the Terminator kills Ginger only because he assumes she is Sarah, one can still interpret Ginger’s death as a consequence for hedonistically indulging in sexual pleasures when she could have helped her friend in danger. Meanwhile, Sarah only averts this situation because she is out having a more wholesome night on her own.

Arguably, the only deviation from the Final Girl trope in The Terminator comes from the fact that, unlike most Final Girls, Sarah does have sex before destroying the monster. The night preceding the story’s climax, Reese and Sarah stay in a motel together. After Reese expresses his love for her, they consummate their relationship. According to Clover’s theorization of the Final Girl trope, this should render Sarah susceptible to the Terminator’s threat according to the gendered logic of slasher films. However, in The Terminator, engaging in sex does not seem to impact Sarah’s character in this way. Margaret Goscilo offers an explanation for this in her feminist reading of the film, “Deconstructing The Terminator.” She suggests that because “the narrative has already punished Ginger in proxy,” the movie “now so completely subordinates Sarah’s sexuality to her reproductive function that she poses minimal threat to the norms of heterosexual romantic dynamics.”10 The Terminator has already played his punisher role against Ginger for her lust, and because Sarah’s sexual activity comes out of pure romance and purposeful conception, it warrants no retribution. Goscilo further speculates, “What most conclusively sanctifies Sarah’s one-night stand, however, is her pregnancy’s archetypal evocation of the Holy Birth.”11 Because Reese and Sarah’s sexual activity leads to conceiving the hallowed John Connor, it not only becomes acceptable, but also necessary and noble. Additionally, considering that Reese dies when blowing up the Terminator the following day, it seems all the more crucial that he impregnates Sarah at that time. Paradoxically, if Sarah and Reese remained abstinent, they could have inadvertently fulfilled the Terminator’s mission, for mankind’s savior would have never been born at all.

Thus, when the Terminator’s final remains come crawling after Sarah in the factory following Reese’s death, her sexual encounter the night before does not hinder her from defeating him or from embodying the horror film archetype of the Final Girl in the process. She can still fulfill her Final Girl role when it comes down to just her and the machine. As Clover explains, “the Final Girl 1) undergoes agonizing trials, and 2) virtually or actually destroys the antagonist and saves herself.”12 Sarah definitely undergoes agony throughout the film, and this pivotal scene shows that she continues enduring pain right up to the movie’s near-end. When Reese blows up the Terminator with the flare, some of its shrapnel impales Sarah’s leg, so when the remains start chasing her, she can just limply drag herself away. Still within the active factory setting, this sequence offers a montage of claustrophobic shots, going back and forth between the two crawling figures in increasingly tight frames. With every cut, the Terminator gains on Sarah as she inches away in fear. All the while, fast-paced screeching music plays, creating an incredibly suspenseful chase that could fit in any horror movie’s final act.

After Sarah makes her way out from under a compacter, she hastily shuts a gate behind her. The Terminator, hot on her tale, shoves his arm through the gate and reaches aggressively for Sarah’s neck. The montage’s pace picks up here, rapidly cutting between Sarah’s face, the Terminator’s face, the Terminator’s hand, and Sarah’s POV of the robot’s prying arm in the foreground and his eager red eyes glaring in the background. Throughout the movie, the audience sees several point-of-view shots from the Terminator’s unmistakable, red-tinted, computerized perspective. Here, however, the viewer finally sees through Sarah’s eyes, exemplifying Clover’s point that as the slasher film progresses, “our closeness to [the slasher] wanes as our closeness to the Final Girl waxes,” in both “the story line as well as the camera position.”13 Just when the viewer identifies with Sarah the most here, she finally reaches for the button that lowers the compactor hanging over the Terminator. With the emphatically confident line, “You’re terminated, fucker,” she hits it. Accompanied by a glaring lightening-like blast, the compactor slowly crushes the cyborg. His phallic-like arm protruding from the gate goes limp and lets go of Sarah’s neck. Although Sarah does not destroy the Terminator with a phallic object, as Clover implies would give her ultimate phallicization in the end, the outstretched arm now wilting from the Terminator’s flattened remains implies that she does indeed achieve some sort of sexual triumph over the monster.

The film’s very last scene then solidifies Sarah Connor in the Final Girl archetype, showing her in a completely new location and attire. As evident through her visible pregnancy in this scene, some time has passed since Sarah destroyed the Terminator. Sporting sunglasses and a bandana, she drives a roofless red Jeep through the southwestern desert in broad daylight, a German Shepard in the passenger seat and a revolver in her lap. She talks into a tape recorder, speaking messages for her future son, and then, when she stops for gas, she speaks to the server in Spanish. This denouement offers a much more grown up and worldly Sarah Connor than the innocent one introduced in the story’s beginning. As Clover puts it, when “the Final Girl stands at last in the light of day with the knife in her hand, she has delivered herself into the adult world.”14 Sarah Connor epitomizes this transformation in the final scene, except she carries a gun rather than a knife—a gun being a much more fitting weapon for the kind of ultramodern antagonist she overtook. Even if Sarah didn’t kill the Terminator with a phallic weapon, the viewer still recognizes her as phallicized in this finale, for, as Clover further states, “The passage from childhood to adulthood entails a shift from feminine to masculine.”15 Between her pistol, large canine, and off-road, crimson car, it surely seems as if Sarah has not only grown up, but also embraced a more rugged masculinity in the process. Likewise, her new location, out in the rural desert rather than urban Los Angeles, signifies a growth towards individuality and self-sustainability. She is not just a face in the crowd anymore. She is Sarah Connor, the mother of the future.

After a boy at the gas station tells Sarah that there is a storm coming, she pensively looks ahead and says, “I know” before driving away. For the movie’s final image, a wide shot captures the car moving off into the distance, heading straight towards the horizon’s ominous dark skies. It shows that Sarah Connor is no longer danger’s victim, no longer a helpless defender, and no longer a member of the oblivious established order. Her experience with the monster and her growth as the Final Girl sends her accelerating towards the future’s tempest with assertive and eager control.

Thus, while, at first glance, The Terminator may not seem like a horror film, a surprising amount of horror iconography and horror archetypes persist throughout the movie, aligning it with conventions of the horror genre. While the film might display action and science fiction conventions as well, these tropes can always crossover and build upon each other via genres’ permeable boundaries. Following the slasher film’s popular development in the 1970s, by the time of the film’s release in 1984, the slasher film killer may have reasonably evolved from a man behind a mask to a sci-fi robot behind human skin—a mechanical monster as cyber-slasher. As Hutchings says, “Horror monsters have also been interpreted as expressions of or as metaphors for socially specific fears and anxieties. From this perspective, monsters help audiences (and perhaps film-makers as well) to engage and come to terms with those fears.”16 Therefore, it makes sense that a horror story about an indestructible, malicious machine emerges when national apprehensions concerning progressive technology were consuming a 1980s America infatuated with a nostalgic human liberty.

All in all, one can view James Cameron’s The Terminator through several generic frameworks, and some of those frameworks may be more obvious than others. Since The Terminator’s release, it has become a pillar of popular culture, establishing tech-noir and cyber-punk as cinematic sub-genres, and spawning five sequels, a television series, various videogames, and a line of comic books set in the same diegetic universe. The subsequent movies and transmedia products have largely strayed from, and therefore clouded, The Terminator’s horror origins; critics and fans often reference Terminator 2: Judgment Day (James Cameron, 1991) amongst the greatest action films of all time. Maybe such standards set by its successors has warped the way audiences consider The Terminator, framing it as the root of a series that aims for blockbuster action rather than horror-like suspense. However, thirty-seven years since its release, the franchise’s first installment warrants a critical rewatching through many different lenses, and the fairest, most fulfilling viewing experience likely comes from combining and considering as many of those lenses that can fit between the eye and the silver screen.


Carroll, Noel. The Philosophy of Horror: Or, Paradoxes of the Heart. London: Routledge, 1990.

Clover, Carol J. Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992.

Goscilo, Margaret. “Deconstructing The Terminator.” Film Criticism, Vol 12, No. 2, (1987-88): 37-52.

Hutchings, Peter. The Horror Film. London: Routledge, 2004.

Kawan, Bruce F. “Children of the Light” in Film Genre Reader IV, ed. Barry Keith Grant, 360-381. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2012.

Kristeva, Julia. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984.


Alien. Directed by Ridley Scott. 20th Century Fox, 1979.

The Terminator. Directed by James Cameron. Orion Pictures, 1984.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Directed by James Cameron. Carolco Pictures, 1991.

The Thing. Directed by John Carpenter. Universal Pictures, 1982.

The Thing From Another World. Directed by Howard Hawks. RKO Radio Pictures, 1951.

End Notes

  1. Bruce F. Kawan, “Children of the Light” in Film Genre Reader IV, ed. Barry Keith Grant (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2012), 371. ↩︎

  2. Kawin, “Children of the Light,” 365. ↩︎

  3. Peter Hutchings, The Horror Film (London: Routledge, 2004), 35. ↩︎

  4. Noel Carroll, The Philosophy of Horror: Or, Paradoxes of the Heart (London: Routledge, 1990), 44. ↩︎

  5. Hutchings, The Horror Film, 37. ↩︎

  6. Carroll, The Philosophy of Horror, 36. ↩︎

  7. Hutchings, The Horror Film, 36. ↩︎

  8. Carol J. Clover, Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), 82. ↩︎

  9. Clover, Men, Women, and Chainsaws, 80. ↩︎

  10. Margaret Goscilo, “Deconstructing The Terminator,” Film Criticism, Vol 12, No. 2, (1987-88): 48. ↩︎

  11. Goscilo, “Deconstructing The Terminator,” 48. ↩︎

  12. Clover, Men, Women, and Chainsaws, 83-84. ↩︎

  13. Clover, Men, Women, and Chainsaws, 79. ↩︎

  14. Clover, Men, Women, and Chainsaws, 81. ↩︎

  15. Clover, Men, Women, and Chainsaws, 81. ↩︎

  16. Hutchings, The Horror Film, 36. ↩︎

About the Author: 

A.W. McGowan is an independent scholar, writer, and educator. His articles and essays on film, media, and culture have appeared in various publications, and he has presented his research at academic conferences across the country. He graduated from Bowdoin College and the UCLA Film & TV Summer Institute, and has served on committees for the Austin Film Festival and the Rhode Island International Film Festival. He has also worked in the entertainment industry as a script reader, production coordinator, and actor.

Volume 6, Issue 1

In this issue

Features in this issue

Sherlock’s Irregulars: The Writing Center as Liminal Space

Anthony Brano
Georgian Court University

Book Review: A Cultural History of the Disneyland Theme Parks: Middle Class Kingdoms

Peter Cullen Bryan
Clemson University
child holds remote control in front of television screen featuring the words "local news"

Local TV News Needs More Local TV News

Judd Cribbs
Florida Gulf Coast University

Submit a response

Do you have something to say? Submit a response to one of the articles in this issue. Our editorial staff will be in touch soon.