The Big Picture
- Robots in movies can be both evil and seductive, like the Fem-bots in
- Mechagodzilla in
Godzilla vs. Kong
is a perfect machine, except for the fact that it’s controlled by Ghidorah’s consciousness, leading to a massive showdown.
- The killer robots in films like
Five Nights at Freddy’s
prove that technology can pose a threat to humanity if not controlled. Watch out for our future technological overlords.
Robots – a boon to mankind, or Artificial Intelligence hell-bent on the destruction of it? Well, according to film, it’s the latter in most cases. Yes, you have your R2-D2, your BB-8, Data (Brent Spiner), and even WALL-E. But for every Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) there’s a Megatron (Hugo Weaving) willing to squash humans under his big ol’ robot feet. Now, with the success of the video game adaptation Five Nights at Freddy’s, we’ve given robots even more ideas. So while we still can, take notes on these killer robots of film before they become our technological overlords.
Five Nights at Freddy’s
Can you survive five nights? The terrifying horror game phenomenon becomes a blood-chilling cinematic event, as Blumhouse — the producer of M3GAN, The Black Phone, and The Invisible Man — brings Five Nights at Freddy’s to the big screen. The film follows a troubled security guard as he begins working at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. While spending his first night on the job, he realizes the night shift at Freddy’s won’t be so easy to make it through.
- Release Date
- October 27, 2023
- Emma Tammi
- Josh Hutcherson, Matthew Lillard, Elizabeth Lail, Mary Stuart Masterson
- Main Genre
14 Fembots in ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’ (1997)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%
Not only are the Fem-bots in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery evil, but they are also Evil’s evil. Dr. Evil’s (Mike Myers), to be precise. Attractive and seductive, the Fem-bots were a means of distracting, and killing, Austin Powers (Mike Myers), not only with their agility but with the guns protruding from their chests. Fortunately, Powers out-sexed the Fem-bots with a seductive strip tease of his own, causing them to short. You just can’t make a robot that can stand up against the sight of ungodly wild chest hair.
13 Mechagodzilla in ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ (2021)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%
Who can stop Godzilla? Well, Apex Cybernetics thought they had a solution when they built Mechagodzilla, a giant, robotic version of the monster set to put all Titans in their place as the apex predator… and designed to kill Godzilla to do it. It was the perfect machine, except for one tiny detail. As part of Mechagodzilla’s remote control system, Apex used the telepathic skull of Ghidorah, last seen in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. As we know, combining the organic with the robotic always works out fine in the films, said no one ever. Ghidorah’s consciousness takes over the dino-bot, leading to an epic showdown between Mechagodzilla and the team of Kong and Godzilla. And a crap load of cleanup for the people of Hong Kong.
12 ED-209 in ‘RoboCop’ (1987)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
“The future of law enforcement” comes courtesy of Omni Consumer Products and their automated peacekeeping machines, the Enforcement Droid, Series 209, or ED-209. It looks like an AT-ST from Return of the Jedi, only smaller with synthesized speech, three automatic cannons, and a rocket launcher. Senior President Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) unveiled ED-209 at a meeting of executives, but during the demonstration of the droid, the logic circuits malfunctioned, causing ED-209 to shoot an executive. Over, and over, and over, and over yet again.
11 Freddy Fazbear and the Gang in ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ (2023)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 30%
Say you’re a serial killer, circa 1980, and you need to hide the bodies of five children you’ve murdered, someplace the police will never find them. Suddenly you see Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria, and the idea hits you: hide them in the animatronic mascots (because they never need any repairing?). Now it’s 2000, and the Five Nights at Freddy’s mascots – Freddy Fazbear, a brown bear with a black top hat and bowtie; Bonnie, a guitar-playing rabbit with a red bowtie; Chica, a yellow chicken; Foxy, a red pirate fox with an eye patch and a hook for one hand; and Mr. Cupcake, a buck-toothed cupcake with pink frosting and a single candle – have been possessed by the ghosts of the murdered children. Murderous? You wouldn’t necessarily think so, so let’s just say they are keen on slicing. But not slicing pizza.
10 Assassin Spider Bots in ‘Runaway’ (1984)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 48%
Why don’t sociopathic evil geniuses use their powers for good? Dr. Charles Luther (Gene Simmons), while working for a defense contractor, invents a variety of robotic weaponry he aims to sell on the black market (after killing his workmates, of course). This includes a smart bullet that acts like a heat-seeking missile, smart bombs, and the pièce de résistance, small, assassin spider-like robots that kill by injecting acid into their victims. Tom Selleck is there to save the day, thankfully, and stops Simmons, at his most villainous since KISS‘ 1981 concept album debacle “Music from the Elder”.
9 Megatron in ‘Transformers’ (2007)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 57%
Unless you’ve lived in a cave since the 1980s, you are more than likely aware of Megatron, the leader of the evil Decepticons. In the 2007 movie, Megatron first came to Earth in pursuit of the All Spark, but he became frozen in the ice after crashing into the Arctic Circle and was not discovered until 1897. But you can’t keep a Decepticicle down, and when Megatron is set free in the present day, he and the Decepticons that have made their way to Earth wreak havoc upon Mission City.
8 Mother in ‘I Am Mother’ (2019)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
After an extinction event wipes out life on Earth, its future lies in the hands of Mother (Rose Byrne), a robot that watches over human embryos in a bunker, to repopulate humanity. Mother chooses one embryo to raise and care for, a girl named Daughter (Clara Rugaard). Mother teaches Daughter lessons about morality, ethics, and the world outside, a world that is contaminated that Daughter should never ever venture out in. Wouldn’t you know it, a woman (Hilary Swank) appears from the outside world, pleading for help. Turns out that the world is not contaminated, robots like Mother kill humans, Mother herself killed the Daughter before her, and Mother doesn’t take kindly to Daughter’s growing bond with the woman. No Mother’s Day card this year.
7 Warbeast in ‘Death Machine’ (1994)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: N/A
Things aren’t looking so good for Chaank Armaments. The weapon-manufacturing giant is getting bad press over one of its cybernetic super soldiers, “Hard Man,” malfunctioning and laying waste to the diners in a local cafe. It falls on new chief executive Hayden Cale (Ely Pouget) to right the ship, and one of her first acts is to fire the designer of the “Hard Man” project, Jack Dante (Brad Dourif). Dante’s a little off, shall we say, and heads to Vault 10, where he activates his secret project, “Warbeast,” the Death Machine of the title, to exact revenge on Cale. Perhaps a sternly worded letter to HR would have been a little less murdery.
6 Ash in ‘Alien’ (1979)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
The crew of the space tug Nostromo in Alien has a bug problem. It would seem that after investigating a distress call on a nearby moon, Executive Officer Kane (John Hurt) was attacked by a spider-like creature with a long tail that wrapped around his neck. That creature planted an alien creature in Kane, which burst out of his chest and ran to hide in the ship. That creature is taking out the crew one by one. Seeking answers about the alien, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) accesses the ship’s computer and discovers that Science Officer Ash (Ian Holm) has orders to bring the alien to Earth and that the remaining crew is expendable. When confronted, Ash tries choking her, only for his head to get knocked off by Parker (Yaphet Kotto), revealing Ash to be an android. An android with a psychotic respect for the alien. Lesson for the day: never put all of your trust in your GPS.
5 Roy Batty in ‘Blade Runner’ (1982)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Of all the robots on this list, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) is the most sympathetic. He is a Nexus-6 Replicant, an artificial being of exceptional strength and intellect. He was created as a combat model and deployed throughout the galaxy to serve in military campaigns but wished to return to Earth and have his life expectancy increased by pushing back his expiration date. So, he and a group of other renegade replicants killed twenty-three people in an off-world colony, hijacked a shuttle, and killed all on board before setting course to Earth. He then kills others to reach his maker, Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel), who he also kills when Tyrell says extending his lifespan is impossible. But then he accepts his fate, rescuing Blade Runner agent Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) from falling to his death, then waxes poetic before passing away.
4 M3GAN in ‘M3GAN’ (2022)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
After her parents are killed, nine-year-old Cady (Violet McGraw) goes to live with her Aunt Gemma (Allison Williams). Gemma happens to be a roboticist, and just happens to be working on a child-sized humanoid AI robot doll, M3GAN (Amie Donald), which stands for “Model 3 Generative Android,” designed to be a perfect companion. Perhaps the “M” would be better suited standing for “Murder,” as the devilish dolly takes her commitment to being Cady’s companion just a tad over the edge, targeting anyone or anything that poses a threat to her BFF. Barbie wouldn’t have done that.
3 101 Series Protector Robots in ‘Chopping Mall’ (1986)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 55%
In the spirit of Jerry Seinfeld, what’s the deal with the malfunctioning movie robots? Secure-tronics is in charge of the new nighttime security system at the Park Plaza 2000 Shopping Center, which consists of two elements: impenetrable doors that seal off the regular doors of the mall from midnight to 6 AM, and three 101 series Protector robots that are programmed to contain non-authorized people that are in the mall between those hours. The first night doesn’t go exactly as planned as a glitch causes the robots to become murderous. Oh, well. As long as no one is inside the mall they can be fixed the next morning, right? Yes, and no. If no one was in the mall then yes, that plan works. However, eight teenage shopping center employees are in the mall, holding a secret after-hours party in the home furnishings store. SPOILER: not all eight make it to sunrise.
2 The Cyborg Assassin in ‘The Terminator’ (1984)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
An unstoppable, relentless cyborg assassin sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) before she can give birth to the son that will save mankind from the malevolent, artificially intelligent Skynet. The premise is almost laughably simple but incredibly effective, thanks in no small part to the work of the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is the perfect marriage of actor and character, with Schwarzenegger’s mannerisms and speech bringing the cyborg to a chillingly believable unstoppable force. That he was able to do a full 180 in the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day and act as the cyborg protector of John Connor (Edward Furlong) from an even deadlier cyborg assassin, the T-1000 (Robert Patrick), is undeniably impressive.
1 HAL 9000 in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (1968)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Could there truthfully be another contender for number one overall? HAL 9000 (Douglas Rain) is the GOAT of evil robots, seen only as a camera lens with an unblinking, unnerving red light. His voice is soothing and calm at all times, whether he’s providing useful information or refusing to open the pod bay doors, with the unwavering delivery becoming increasingly creepy as his actions become more malevolent. What puts HAL over and above his evil robot peers is the cold-hearted logic with which he justifies killing the crew. Torn between his programming to accurately dispense information and a direct order to withhold specific information, HAL chooses to kill the crew to keep from lying to them, therefore avoiding the internal conflict with his original function. But hey, HAL can play chess. He can’t be all that bad.