The film which made the erstwhile body-builder Arnold Schwarzenegger a star, The Terminator is, contrary to ones expectations, found by many people to be a highly intelligent and articulate science fiction film. Directed by James Cameron, and highly dependent (as ever in his films) on special effects, the pretext of the movie is that a cybernetic construct (see cyborg), the eponymous Terminator played by Schwarzenegger, has been ported back in time from 2029 A.D. to 1984 to assassinate a woman named Sarah Connor played by Linda Hamilton.
In the future the world is ruled by Skynet, a network of computers bent on eliminating mankind; Connor will soon become the mother of John Connor, the child who grows up to lead the humans in resistance against Skynet. As the story progresses, the human veneer of skin is progressively stripped from the Terminator, and the naked machinery is revealed.
Some aspects of the story were sufficiently similar to Harlan Ellison's short story Soldier that an acknowledgement of Ellison's story was placed in the credits. (Although to this wikipedian, the killer robot disguised as a human also drew heavily, and unacknowledged, on Philip K. Dick's short story Second Variety). A similar plot of a killer machine sent back in time to change history was seen in a fairly obscure film from 1966 entitled Cyborg 2087