The Five Scariest Robots In Movies

Published on October 31st, 2013 in: Halloween, Horror, Listicles, Movies, Science Fiction, Top Five Lists |

By Jeffery X Martin


Science fiction gets short shrift in the Halloween season, with so many slashers and bashers running about through summer camps and the dreams of teenagers. Truth is, there’s some pretty creepy sci-fi out there. On an existential level, what’s scarier than something pretending to be human? The concept of mechanical creations with feelings, some of them homicidal, is strangely abhorrent. Humans can’t bear the thought of obsolescence. Take a gander at some terrifying robots. How do you say “trick or treat” in binary?


In Richard Stanley’s dystopian classic, Hardware, Dylan McDermott brings his artist girlfriend (Stacy Travis) a strange piece of metal he found in the desert. He’s hoping she can use it in one of her industrial art pieces. What he doesn’t realize is that the small metal piece is actually the headpiece and electronic brain of a decommissioned military robot known as the Mark XIII. It’s programmed to kill, and once it starts rebuilding itself, the shit hits the fan. The movie is another masterpiece from director Richard Stanley, enhanced by an audio part by Iggy Pop and one of the scariest robots in cinematic history.


Spoiler: some robots look like humans. In Ridley Scott’s Alien, the Xenomorph isn’t the only enemy. The android, Ash (Ian Holm), is programmed to carry out the Company’s orders to bring the deadly Alien back to Earth by any means necessary. Sigourney Weaver is opposed to that plan. The cold and clinical way that Ash goes about fulfilling his orders is terrifying. How do you kill a girl with a magazine?


The Black Hole was the first PG-rated movie the Walt Disney Company released. In retrospect, it’s a strange derivative of Star Wars, with a questionable spiritual bent. The giant red robot, Maximilian, is definitely a malevolent force in the film, but is it something more? The movie seems to suggest that he is Hell’s Gatekeeper. Whether that’s true or not, no one can deny that the spinning blades coming out of shoulders are lethal and that being on the business end of them is a horrible way to go.


Saturn 3 is a jacked-up piece of troubled filmmaking. Kirk Douglas is romantically involved with Farrah Fawcett. Harvey Keitel’s voice is overdubbed by British actor Roy Dotrice. It’s weird. It’s not that good. But the movie’s robot, Hector? That thing is scary as balls to an Amish virgin. He’s as tall as a human, has a creepy steel rib-cage and surgical tubing for veins, but his head is tiny. Two little bug eyes on a telescoping steel rod. It’s the itty-bitty head that makes him scary, and it’s enough to put him on this list.

The Protectors

If you think Paul Blart represents the apex of shopping mall security, you’ve never seen the Protectors. The Protectors were the antagonists of Jim Wynorski’s Eighties schlock classic, Chopping Mall. These robots had tank treads instead of legs. They shot lasers out of their faces. There must be some seriously expensive shit in that mall to need that kind of security. Sure, they set my generation’s darling of the genre, Barbara Crampton, on fire, but they were just doing their jobs. Created by Robert Short, the same man who created Johnny 5 for the sci-fi lite classic, Short Circuit, the Protectors elicit real fear as they juke around the mall, zapping kids and telling them to “have a good day.” It’s memorably creepy shit for a B-grade horror flick, and well worth checking out.

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