Until today, I had never seen the original Terminator. To be quite honest, I have no idea why I had never seen this film, since I enjoyed Terminator 2 back in 1992. I wasn't surprised as there are definitely some large movie gaps, especially from the years where I just didn't watch movies. However, Terminator, as a science-fiction movie, where I watched the sequel on multiple occasions is an odd omission for me to correct today.
The original Terminator is an excellent film and far superior to the original. What is most striking about the movie is the darkness. Not just in mood, but in the night scenes and even the day scenes are not what I would call bright. Despite the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a career defining role, the cinematography is what really shines. The filming of the scenes was tremendous, especially once you account for the fact the movie is thirty years old.
Watching the Terminator as a mechanical being toward the end was fantastic. It made me think part of why Battlestar Galactica worked in the 2000s, but not in the 1970s. In the 1970s, you could never make the robots scary enough, but by the 1980s, they were getting there. By the 2000s, you could really get the robots scary and then added a great plot and scripts.
Most importantly, I thought they don't make movies like this anymore. A cross between science fiction and horror, the movie was plot driven, but used special effects well. Nowadays, I feel we only get blockbusters like Pacific Rim or the Transformers movies. There is not that niche where smaller films of this kind seem to exist. Well, they probably exist, but not in a way that they get filtered to me.