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The Terminator (1984)
Its studio-friendly sequels and slick '80s action sequences may make this appear part of the Hollywood establishment, but look a little more closely. Behind the impressive effects you'll see an untried director, an obscure leading man and a (relatively) shoestring budget - in fact, all the hallmarks of an indie movie. If you want an example of independent spirit, there's no finer example than the man behind The Terminator's apocalyptic vision. A nobody on the verge of being fired from his job on a silly horror flick about piranhas, James Cameron was fired up by a vivid nightmare he had one night about an unstoppable metal assassin. Hastily scribbling a screenplay and assembling a crew, he threw himself body and soul into the shoot,

creating a whole new genre of techno-noir along the way. That the Terminator spawned one of the biggest sequels ever is testament to what a high concept and assured execution can do. Of course, it helps to have a healthy dose of iconic lines and, in Arnold Schwarzenegger, an unstoppable machine from the future - sorry, Austria - poised on the very brink of superstardom.

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