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20th Anniversary of Terminator


It has been 20 years since a low-budget B-movie called The Terminator debuted in October of 1984 and transformed the careers of several below-the-line craftspeople. Of course, the James Cameron sci-fi thriller made an A-list player out of the 30-year-old writer-director and its star, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Several other people who worked on this film also had their careers catapulted to a new level.
Among those was makeup and terminator effects supervisor Stan Winston. Originally a makeup apprentice at Disney, Winston had created special makeup for projects such as TV’s Roots miniseries and the films The Wiz and Heartbeeps. When makeup artist Dick Smith passed on doing The Terminator, Winston was recommended to create the endoskeleton’s appearance. Winston’s shop also fabricated the many prosthetic appliances that Jeff Dawn applied to Schwarzenegger’s face throughout production. Dawn and Winston went on to produce makeup and animatronic effects in both Terminator sequels and in dozens of films in the 1980s through the present.
Polish cinematographer Adam Greenberg had shot films in Israel and Europe since the mid-1960s before coming to America in the early 1980s to work in cinema. When Cameron and The Terminator producer Gale Anne Hurd hired him to shoot the “tech-noir” action required in the film, it established an entire visual template for sci-fi films of the 1980s and 1990s. In addition to shooting T2: Judgment Day, Greenberg went on to shoot numerous genre pictures, including Near Dark, Alien Nation (also for Hurd), and Ghost.
Additionally, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Mark Goldblatt had been editing low-budget horror films for Roger Corman, including Piranha, Humanoids from the Deep and The Howling. After his intricate cutting of Cameron’s complicated action sequences earned him accolades for The Terminator, Goldblatt jumped to the top of the editorial A-list. His wide array of credits following the first Terminator film include Cameron’s True Lies, Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers and Hollow Man, and Michael Bay’s Armageddon and Pearl Harbor, in addition to T2: Judgment Day.
Finally, one must account for The Terminator’s many visual effects splendors. Miniature pyrotechnician Joe Viskocil had already been legendary for blowing up the Death Star in George Lucas’s first Star Wars film in 1977 when he got the call to join Gene Warren’s team at Fantasy II for The Terminator’s miniature work.
His truck explosion at the film’s climax still fools viewers today who believe it was a full-size truck. Viskocil went on to work on Cameron’s The Abyss, T2: Judgment Day and True Lies, but his most memorable success was likely the miniature pyro work in Independence Day.
Though many at the time might have dismissed it as a second-rate action film with a neophyte director and a nonverbal leading man, The Terminator has proved to be a genre classic that pole-vaulted the many careers of its key contributors.

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