If you were to ask the average person on the street to name a movie featuring an unstoppable, killer robot, they would almost all say The Terminator (1984), with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Yet over 10 years before Arnold played the iconic, killer robot with the deadpan catchphrase, “I’ll be back”, there was another killer robot, just as deadly, played by another iconic actor.
The movie to which I refer is 1973’s sci-fi/fantasy film, Westworld (written and directed by Michael Crichten). The film starred Richard Benjamin (Love at First Bite) and James Brolin (Capricorn One) as tourists visiting the ultimate vacation experience— think of it as an adult version of Disneyland. Westworld was just one of several time periods a vacationer could visit at the resort, in order to experience what it was like to have lived during three historical periods— Ancient Rome and Medieval World were the other two time periods.
Populating the resort were life-like androids (robots that look and act human), which interacted with the human guests. Guests of course, had the freedom to indulge in any adventure they wanted, including sexual encounters and even fights to the death. Safeguards were in place so guests could not be injured, just the androids.
Of course, things were going great for Benjamin and Brolin, who get to start a fight in the saloon, escape from jail, and even visit the local cathouse, until the android gunslinger blows a gasket, ignoring it’s programming not to harm, and starts killing guests. Broil is gunned down by the gunslinger played by Yul Brynner— incidentally Brynner is best known for playing one of the gunslingers in the classic Western, The Magnificent Seven. In fact, he wears almost the exact same hat and clothes as the gunslinger in Westworld.
Soon all the androids go crazy throughout the resort, killing all of the guests. Benjamin, now in a fight to survive, tries in vein to stay alive, as the gunslinger relentlessly pursues his quarry. Benjamin manages to find his way to the resort’s lab, where he damages the gunslinger by throwing a bottle of acid in it’s face , and setting it on fire.
With a shooting budget of $1, 250,000, the film was a financial success, earning $4 million domestically. It became MGM’s biggest box office success of that year and was re-release in 1976, earning $7,365,000.
A sequel called Futureworld, was released in 1976, bringing back Yul Brynner to reprise his Gunslinger character. In 1980, the CBS aired a short-lived television series called Beyond Westworld. The TV series followed the concepts and plot of the second film, but poor ratings caused it to be canceled after only three episodes.
HBO had ordered a pilot for a Westworld TV series which will be produced by J.J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan, and Jerry Weintraub. The HBO series will star Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood and James Marsden. Filming for the pilot took place in August 2014.