Don't give Michael Bay any more of your money.
So you've got a hankering to watch evil robots causing mayhem this weekend, but you refuse to see Transformers 3 because you don't want to put any more money in Michael Bay's pocket? We totally understand. Even the slim chance that Bay's latest might feature the welcome sight of Shia LaBeouf being crushed by a Decepticon isn't enough to get us into the theaters. Which is why we're countering with these five alternative sources of cybernetic carnage, all of which can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.
1. The Terminator
Sprawling across three sequels, a TV series, comic books, and videogames, the Terminator mythology has become absurdly convoluted over the years, but the 1984 original remains a lean, mean thriller, powered by the most iconic killer robot of all time. Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered a star-making performance as the relentless cyborg assassin, even though he only had eighteen lines of dialogue in the entire movie (or maybe because he only had eighteen lines of dialogue). Some prefer director James Cameron's 1991 sequel Judgment Day, but that version of the Terminator is simply too warm and fuzzy for our purposes.
Imagine an amusement park for adults, populated by androids programmed to allow you to live out your wildest fantasies, whether in the Roman Empire, medieval times, or the Wild West. What could possibly go wrong? Well, since the resort in question is found in a movie written and directed by Michael Crichton, you can bet that our technology will turn against us, revealing man's hubris in the process. Yul Brynner is suitably malevolent as the Gunslinger, a black-hatted killing machine that pays homage to Brynner's previous role in The Magnificent Seven, and undoubtedly influenced Cameron and Schwarzenegger in the creation of their own unstoppable killer robot.
The killer robot in Paul Verhoeven's prophetic 1987 sci-fi satire is not, as you might suspect, the title character (although the cyborg police officer played by Peter Weller is not above using lethal force when necessary). It's the ED-209, the mechanized law-enforcement prototype designed by the corporation that has privatized Detroit's police department. Unfortunately, ED still has a few glitches in its programming, resulting in the use of deadly force even after a test subject has dropped his weapon as instructed. As RoboCop later discovers at a fortuitous moment, ED also has trouble navigating stairs. ED may be a remorseless engine of violence, but the retro stop-motion technique used to animate him has a certain charm.
4. Robot Monster
Yes, this Golden Turkey Award-winner is often named alongside Plan 9 from Outer Space and Manos: The Hands of Fate as one of the worst movies of all time — but that doesn't mean it's not entertaining. Forget everything you thought you knew about robot monsters — unless you thought they look like men in gorilla suits wearing diving helmets, in which case, you're right on director Phil Tucker's wavelength. Having destroyed all human life on Earth except for a German professor and his wife, shirtless assistant, and annoying children, Ro-Man Extension XJ-9 too late comes to the realization that what he really wants is "to be like the humans. To laugh, feel, want." For extra killer-robot action, rent the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of Robot Monster, in which robo-sidekicks Crow and Tom Servo lob deadly one-liners at the screen.
5. Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted "Theodore" Logan (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) face many perils in the sequel to their Excellent Adventure, including the devil, the Easter Bunny, and a death-defying game of Twister with the Grim Reaper. Most perilous of all are the android clones of Bill and Ted ("evil robot us-es") sent from the future to kill our heroes, disrupt the Battle of the Bands, and prevent the dude-topian world of tomorrow from ever happening. It's fun to watch Winter and Reeves put a mischievous spin on their sweet-natured doofus characters, but righteousness prevails in the end when two "good robot us-es" intervene. They don't make sequels like this anymore.