Aliens, cyborgs and big boats

The most memorable scenes from James Cameron movies past

The Terminator

The Terminator (1984)

Shooting up a coupla Sarah Connors? Unnerving. Gunning down 17 cops inside a police station? The kinda scene franchises are built upon—three, to be exact: The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron. The four minutes after Arnold-as-killing-machine announces, “I’ll be back” and drives his Chevy through the front doors are merciless, terrifying and gratuitous. And never forgotten by anyone who’s sat through them. –Spencer Patterson

Aliens (1986)

Paul Reiser plays Burke, a corporate weasel who at first seems merely unctuous, but is later revealed to have sacrificed the human colonists to the bugs for financial reasons. So my favorite scene, embedded in this action classic, is when Ripley nails exactly how Burke has become more soulless and predatory than the creatures: “You don’t see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.” After which Burke takes a well-deserved meeting with an alien. –Scott Dickensheets

The Abyss (1989)

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio sacrifices her life so her husband can live, drowning before his eyes. What follows is an agonizingly long scene in which he literally beats and screams her back to life, yelling, “Goddammit, you bitch, you never backed away from anything in your life! Now FIGHT!!!” It is, quite simply, the most romantic thing Cameron’s ever done. –Ken Miller

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Cameron’s films walk a fine line between cheesy sentiment and exhilarating badassery, none more effectively than T2. After young John Connor orders the T-800 not to kill anyone, the cyborg shoots an innocent security guard in the knees, noting impassively to John, “He’ll live.” It’s sudden violence, a memorable one-liner and an earnest life lesson, all wrapped up in one simple moment. –Josh Bell

Titanic (1997)

I’d like to see a director’s cut of Titanic—with only the ship-sinking scenes and none of the drecky dialogue and bad romance. I remember laughing through the preposterous scene in which Kate Winslet has to free Leonardo DiCaprio, who is handcuffed to a boiler-room pipe, while the room is rapidly filling with frigid seawater. Because a sinking ship wasn’t dramatic enough? –Joe Brown


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