Viki Reed: Top Tech Movies, Tech Run Amok Part I

Here are the top tech movies of all time — part one of a series by our New York pop culturist, Viki Reed.

aNewDomain.net — Summer movies crowd the box office and tech-related films are running amok. Consider releases like Iron Man 3, Star Trek into Darkness, Alien Uprising and Man of Steel. Technology has come to life — from embryonic idea to the screen —  in every conceivable way. Looking back, the same themes reoccur. To illustrate, let’s take a ride back and look at the top tech movies of all time.

In this multipart series, I’ll even break these top tech classic flicks into categories, starting with …

The Machines Have Won

This category showcases world-domination movies where technology emerges as the master controller. It outthinks us and it doesn’t care if it’s old, fat or loved. Spoilers alert.

And image credits: Viki Reed

Colossus: The Forbin Project (1971):  The only special effects in this film are LEDs, full-color and wide screen, if those even count. A nuclear defense system sits up in a mountain and protects all those in the free Western world. Then the system comes online and networks with its counterpart computer in the Soviet Union, so the government quickly disconnects them. But the computers don’t like being disconnected. They tell the U.S. and USSR to reconnect them so that the computers can share secrets, create a new binary code language and form their own way of life. That — or they will blow us all up.

WarGames (1983): Humans survived The Forbin Project, but remain in fear of the Cold War. The film is famous for its eponymous line, “Shall we play a game?”  Thankfully a pre-Apple teenage geek knows how to beat what looks like the `83 version of Big Blue by appealing to the computer’s growing sense of self awareness.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): We all know someone who has to control everything — conversations, relationships, what we eat, who you can talk to or love, space station life-support systems, cameras and escape pods.  HAL can even read lips when you try to keep a secret.  “Dave? What are you doing?” will forever send chills up my spine even though it’s really the only part of “2001” that isn’t about human evolution in the universe.

Westworld (1973): Hunks James Brolin and Richard Benjamin are out to have the vacation of their lives without the wives. Westworld Resort was more Disneyland than Disneyland was in 1973. Ancient Rome and Medieval Europe are populated by androids or robots programmed to say yes, serve humans and do no harm. Our heroes swagger into the American Wild West at the very moment the androids run amok.

run amok tech movie
Demon Seed (1977): A mad genius doc creates Proteus IV, an artificial intelligence project. Proteus scares investors and the doctor disconnects it from the broad terminal access. Proteus locks the doctor out of his own house, kidnaps his wife and commandeers the home’s terminal network.

And Don’t Mess With Mother Nature

Sometimes technology should just leave biology alone. These movies showed us why. Spoilers alert.

Frankenstein (1931): We settled on this adaptation of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece in which dry ice, a Tesla coil, and lightning assume the role of special effects. In short, a scientist creates an innocent, naïve monster with really big feet and killer strength from the body parts of vagrants. Terrified villagers chase it with torches and drive it away.

The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977 version ONLY): This is hands-down the best version.  Michael York, who turns into a half-boar-looking character, is a simple crewman during the days when shipwrecked survivors would draw straws to determine the unlucky one. They’ve landed on Dr. Moreau’s island, a vivisectionist’s paradise infested with strange, half-human creatures.

Jurassic Park (1993):  A cinematic masterpiece. Every inch of the film was storyboarded and it shows. It took a massive meteor to destroy the prehistoric Jurassic world (and most life on the planet) but somehow a big metal fence around the dinosaurs can keep them away from the gift shops and food courts.

The Terminal Man (1974): An edgy film about science’s efforts to treat epilepsy and paranoia with microchip implants connected to computers. Instead, the procedure creates a really epileptic, delusional and homicidal paranoid killer who wants to be disconnected from computers.  George Segal plays the lead role.
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A Clockwork Orange (1971):  This Kubrick masterpiece is about human nature — some good, mostly bad. Humans work as a pack and unless you’re dominant, you will be crushed. Most memorable is the unbelievable fashion, language and slang invented by author Anthony Burgess. There’s an unforgettable soundtrack with every discordant sound imaginable. The message: You cannot brainwash bad character and violent tendencies to create a different person. The next time you head out to the movies and pick up popcorn and an ICEE, look out for hints of these top tech movies in slick new Hollywood productions.

Look out for the rest of our series on top tech movies of all time. For aNewDomain.net, I’m Viki Reed.

Based in New York, Viki Reed is a senior photographer and pop culture commentator at aNewDomain.net. She’s worked with SubBrilliant News, Anti-Press and Thewax. Check out her work at  vikireedphotography.com and email her at Viki@aNewDomain.net or viki@vikireedphotography.com.

About the author

Viki Reed

3 Comments

  • What about Repo Man? What exactly is in the trunk of that ’64 Chevy Malibu, a car possibly driven by the inventor of the neutron bomb, a man who has had a lobotomy?

  • And while you’re referencing Kubrick, why not Dr Strangelove? Here humanity is doomed by a combination of ruthlessly logical technology and one insane general.

  • I knew Doug pretty well – he was kind, sharp, patient with me when I was a young reporter just starting out ….