Bolt From the Blue

One of the most over used plot devices in the history of Science Fiction and Horror is, of course, the lighting bolt that causes the robot/computer/what-have-you. I know I’ve said previously that the well can’t run dry on ideas. And I stand by that. But this plot device is just plain lazy. You know what happens when lightening hits a computer? It doesn’t run around plotting the end of mankind, for one thing.

We get that it’s a homage to the Boris Karloff Frankenstein. We liked the movie, too. But please, please, please, don’t just throw lightning around and leave it at that. Give us a reason why the bolt is doing this, for God’s sake!

You know what else doesn’t have any effect on computers? Soda pop! I spilled a Coca Cola on my key board once. Did I get a diabolical schemer plotting my demise? Of course not! I got a ruined keyboard and strange looks as I tried lapping up the spilled Coca Cola.

I like Coca Cola, okay? Sue me.

What follows are a few films in which lightning and the like created Life from our friend the robots, the PC, and the like. With one or two of them stretching the point a bit. I’m sure I am “stealth”-fully avoiding one or two of them, so feel free to point them out to me.

  • Electric Dreams – An architect’s budding romance might be nipped in the bud by the growing jealousy of his sentient computer. See, here’s the thing. I remember seeing this movie. I remember liking this movie. I just can’t tell you word one about this movie. For instance, I thought it was a Pepsi that “created” the computer’s intelligence. Now I find out it was champagne. If it had been a Jack Daniels, imagine the kind of film it would have been! Or not.

  • Weird Science An electrical storm helps two nerds create the perfect woman. Which is redundant.1 I remember, back in my fabled youth, my cousin Julie trying to talk Brother Eric and myself into seeing this film. We saw Back to the Future instead. Good times. Good times.

    Too bad I had to spoil my life by actually watching this flick. But what can you do?

  • Chopping Mall – Four couples lovemaking in a deserted mall is interrupted by four killer security guard robots. Actually, um, this one isn’t that bad. It’s not good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s entertaining. In a completely predictable way.

  • Ghost in the MachineAn electrical storm/CAT scan combination sends the soul of a serial killer into electrical systems including computers and video games. Is this stretching the point a little? Probably. But it does show how overused this plot device is. As to the movie… It’s a slasher flick. Those aren’t staggeringly original to begin with. This barely gets past it’s “original” premise.

  • How to Make a Monster – A motion capture suit is brought to life to bring violence to video game creators. This is one of those movie where the ending makes you hate the film makers. Hate them lots.
  • Short Curcuit – A lightning bolt turns a battle droid into a loveable loon who only wants peace. You know the type of loon, too. The one you want to hit over the head with a sledgehammer AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN! I deny watching this movie. But if I ever had, I would tell you this is the reason Alley Sheedy‘s movie career tanked. This and Man’s Best Friend.


1 I can date real women now, right ladies? Right?

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