So I'm flipping channels and find The Terminator on AMC. And it was just starting! It's been a while since I've seen it in its entirety, so I decided to give it my full attention.
The thing that strikes me immediately: Sound design with a purpose. This is a soundtrack that tells a story right from the first scene. It is not sound for the sake of sound, but rather with the intent of immersing you in a time and place, specifially Los Angeles, circa 1984. The trash truck's groans and squeals, all air pistons and clanging forks. Wonderful.
The fights, gun shots, and gun foley are incredibly powerful and beautifully detailed. The shootout in Tech-Noir, the attack on the police station: Brutal. Unforgiving. Uncensored.
The smashes, crashes and general mayhem are expertly executed. The car chase through the garages and underpasses: Exciting and clean. This track is really a study in how the right sound can make the scene; you can tell that the redundant layering of elements (as many editors/designers work today) is very much absent here. Each sound is proudly presented and put right out front to affect the viewer and keep the story moving.
Does it sound dated? Well, some parts of it do. But be forgiving, this film was released in 1984! And for the number of sounds that sound a bit lo-fi, there are double that number that sound crisp and full of life, ie. the automatic weapons, the terminator vision fx. (I wonder, though, how much of the sound I heard was a product of the restoration that was completed by the folks at Skywalker Sound?) If anyone out there was involved in the making of this track or know someone who was, would you please enlighten us with stories?
Of course, having a director, producer and picture editor that nurture and demand this level of prowess is critical. Too many middling, timid filmmakers have caved in on boldly-presented sound, and it's rare for a film's visual style to be so excellent as to be able to support such a track.
David Campling, the supervising sound editor credited on IMDB, deserves a huge round of applause for his attention to detail. If you haven't seen this movie in a long time, I encourage you to watch it soon!