Come May 7, Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau are back, along with Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, and what looks to be a “Holy crap is this awesome!” role for Mickey Rourke. Iron Man is not horror, but with great powered armor comes great irresponsibility. I prefer to live in my what-if land of doom, as in, “What if Stark took that suit and turned it into a Freddy-esque slaughter machine?” I know I’m not the only person to have these thoughts. To celebrate the happy thoughts of murderous machines, read on for the top ten death machines to grace the silver screen.
Cyborgs and robots come in all shapes and sizes, so for this list we’re looking at the anthropomorphic types that are still clearly machines. Straight-up androids that look like humans don’t cut it; we have to see the shiny bits.
Not to be confused with the metal band Austrian Death Machine, this 1994 cheese-fest features a killing machine named War Beast. As Hollywood often tells us, all things military are bad and all things corporate are bad, and the killing slicer and dicer in this one is both. This flick is also notable for the fact that it’s one of Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz’s first films.
It’s hard to list this movie on any top ten endeavor, but there is no denying that a cyborg Jason represents some serious mechanized death. I still can’t figure out why even the stupidest scientists would turn a serial killer into a cyborg. They were really asking for it with this one, so it’s hard to feel too bad.
8. Caterpillar Power Loader J-5000,
Remember this one? It’s the massive yellow hydraulic suit that Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) dons to vanquish her acid-spewing foe. This one makes the list simply because it is a badass piece of mechanization, and Aliens is still the most badass horror flick of all time.
Part of the unstoppable avalanche of Alien clones, Saturn 3 featured Kirk Douglas, Harvey Keitel, and a smoking Farrah Fawcett. This flick really isn’t even worth a rental, but Hector is basically a murderous Iron Man with a mysteriously tiny head, so he’s more than worthy of a spot on this list.
If it’s got Iggy Pop and Lemmy from Motörhead, it’s got to rock, right? The killer villain in this postapocalyptic thriller, Mark 13, is a serious metal mangler that dishes out damage. And its name is apparently a reference to the Gospel of Mark, in the New Testament of the Bible, which says that no flesh shall be spared. Nice.
This one is a hodgepodge of tech terror, with human-passable androids, straight-up machine killers, and evil robotic teddy bears. David is actually a little android who passes for a cute human until he’s shot, at which point his cohorts realize he’s a type-3 Screamer, built to impersonate humans. If you’re a fan of mechanized death, this one is essential viewing.
4. Squeaky (Julio Oscar Mechoso) and Goliath Machine, Virus
Man, if you look at the lineup for this 1999 movie — Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Sutherland, William Baldwin — you might think you’ve got a solid horror flick on your hands. Virus had a cool plot, a great isolation setup, and a wide variety of mechanical monstrosities, but the whole was far less than the sum of its parts. It turned out to be one of the biggest horror flops of all time, but the two mechanized monsters that terrorize the crew (Squeaky, a man converted into a machine, and the massive Goliath Machine) are no laughing matter.
You want to know where Favreau got his inspiration for Whiplash, the villain from Iron Man 2? Check out Erland Van Lidth as Dynamo, in Running Man. This bad boy would mess up Iron Man’s entire day, tossing electricity about like the Pope passes out Eucharist crackers. Okay, so Running Man isn’t technically horror, but powered-armor Dynamo rules.
Hands down the best powered-armor scene of all time comes at the end of this megasuccessful 2009 horror-sci-fi flick. I’d put this bone-crushing death machine, which half-alien Wikus (Sharlto Copley) employs to fight the good fight, up against Iron Man any day of the week. Guns, crashes, people popping like water balloons; blood, blood, and more blood. This battle suit yields a stellar scene full of gory goodness.
As if there could be any doubt who tops this list. Still a kick-ass classic, we see the mechanical masterpiece Ah-nold first as a half-human, half-cyborg with metal on his face and, finally, as the gleaming, chromed pimp-my-killer machine that will happily either crush you or pop a cap in your ass. Guns, knives, fire trucks: this one uses whatever weapon is available. The king of all mechanized-death flicks: I give you the Terminator.