Sci-fi and action legend Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t do horror often, but when he does, it usually turns out to be a memorable movie.
Sci-fi and action legend Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t do horror often, but when he does, it usually turns out to be a memorable movie. That’s arguably true of most of Schwarzenegger’s projects, as good or bad, they’re at least rarely boring. The Austrian Oak has had quite the varied career, starring in shoot-em-ups, wacky comedies, holiday fantasies, deadly serious dramas, cerebral sci-fi mind-benders, and more. That’s all despite the constant criticism he’s always gotten for having a limited acting range.
While it’s doubtful even Schwarzenegger himself would claim he’s Daniel Day Lewis in front of a camera, the man’s personality and charisma is highly infectious, and he’s also very good when given specific tasks, such as portraying a focused villain or intimidating hero. Sadly, Schwarzenegger has yet to play a full-on horror villain, which he would probably take to well, although over the course of his career he’s seemed understandably reluctant to risk hurting his established image as a blockbuster hero.
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Schwarzenegger hasn’t made a ton of stops into horror, but on the few occasions he has, the former Governator has shown why he should really give the genre a spin more often. Here’s a look at the times Schwarzenegger has dared to get horrific, on both the big and small screens.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Horror Roles: Movies & TV
Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s first brush with horror came in The Terminator, director James Cameron’s 1984 classic, and the film that truly began the Austrian actor’s rise to A-list status. While The Terminator is generally considered a sci-fi/action film, at its core, it’s a slasher with Sarah Connor as the final girl and the T-800 as a cybernetic Jason Voorhees equivalent. Future Terminator installments would ditch these horror trappings though. In 1987 came Predator, another deft blending of sci-fi, action, and horror, with Schwarzenegger’s Dutch going one-on-one with the galaxy’s ultimate hunter.
In 1990, Schwarzenegger tried his hand at directing, helming an episode of beloved HBO anthology series Tales from the Crypt called “The Switch.” Schwarzenegger also appeared onscreen alongside The Cryptkeeper to introduce the episode, and it’s a joy to see them interact. Fast-forwarding to 1999, Schwarzenegger starred as the oddly named ex-cop Jericho Cane in the action/horror blend End of Days, which sees him tasked with stopping Satan from bringing about the apocalypse on New Year’s Eve. A critical and commercial flop, End of Days isn’t great, but it’s not nearly the unwatchable mess it’s made out to be, and is worth checking out for Schwarzenegger fans. Finally, 2015’s Maggie gave Schwarzenegger an opportunity to show off his dramatic chops, as a father caring for his zombie-infected daughter (Abigail Breslin). To his credit, Schwarzenegger’s performance earned lots of praise.
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