When Gadgets Attack: Cautionary Films for the Tech-Dependent

5. The Refrigerator (1991)

Techno-threat: A killer fridge controlled by the Devil terrorizes a yuppie couple in Manhattan.

Vanquished by: Well, first Steve Bateman (Dave Simonds) tries to shove his wife Eileen (Julia McNeal) into the refrigerator, so she stabs him and the fridge eats his body when she's not looking. Then Juan the plumber comes in and bolo-ties the fridge shut, and after the Cuisinart and the trash compactor attack, he and Eileen just leave out the front door. Easy as pie!

6. The Lawnmower Man (1992)

Techno-threat: TMI -- literally, too much information. A handy man with a learning disability (Jeff Fahey) pulls a Limitless after exposure to an intelligence-boosting experiment, then goes crazy, develops superpowers, and wants to become one with the information superhighway.

Vanquished by: A virus. But that didn't stop Hollywood from making a sequel!

7. Ringu (1998)

Techno-threat: A VHS tape that kills. Also see: the American remake and sequels; Remote Control.

Vanquished by: Paying it forward. Watch the famed videotape and you have seven days to live -- unless you make a copy for someone else to watch. It's the perfect pyramid scheme for vengeful ghosts seeking to widen their reach in the world of the living.

8. The Shaft (2001)

Techno-threat: A sophisticated elevator starts messing with people by chopping off heads and limbs and getting stuck between floors on purpose. Remade in English from the 1983 Dutch film De Lift AKA The Elevator.

Vanquished by: A pre-Mulholland Drive Naomi Watts, who figures out how to destroy the mad scientist-created brain that is controlling the evil elevator. Seriously, this movie happened.

9. FeardotCom (2002)

Techno-threat: An evil website possessed by the vengeful spirit of a murder victim scares people literally to death within 48 hours of logging on. Also see: Kairo/Pulse.

Vanquished by: Freeing said internet-savvy ghost from her dot com domain. Which, incidentally, is Feardotcom.com. How does that make any sense?

See how much we all learned, kids? Now, since VHS is obsolete and the Devil only seems to possess refrigerators in flea-bitten New York City apartments, just stay away from evil toasters, cell phones, elevators, robots, websites, and the internet and you should be just fine.

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  • Andrew Lazo says:

    Nice article Jen! But no mention of 'The Ring'? Not that i even liked the two 'ring' movies but still...

  • Jen Yamato says:

    Dru! The Ring (Ringu) and all of the subsequent sequels, etc. are present and accounted for on page 2. 😉

  • Martini Shark says:

    Thank you for not including "Maximum Overdrive" on this list -- because I regard that as Steven King being the one who attacked humanity.

  • Jen Yamato says:

    Ha! So many killer gadget movies, only so many spaces in a Movieline Nine... but MO is a great terrible addition to the list.

    • JEN! You want a killer gadget movie? One that'll make you stop and think? Think about
      why you're watching it? Then might I suggest to you KILLDOZER, which came out in the
      middle seventies? Starred Clint Walker and Robert Urich. You want to know what I think.
      Well, it isn't half-bad.
      No, it's ALL BAD. One good thing, nobody ran out to make a sequel.
      KRIS the KLINGON

  • j'accuse! says:

    Jen, it's already happening. I just talked to a friend of mine who works in robotics and AI, and it's so close it scares me. I might just stop commenting on internet, before SkyNet becomes self aware.

  • j'accuse! says:

    To put it in pitch form, it's gonna be like Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence meets 1984 meets A Brave New World meets The Terminator future with a dash of Harrison Bergeron as directed by Terrence Mallick.

  • Jen Yamato says:

    Can I pre-order tickets for this movie on my smart phone?

  • J'accuse! says:

    No need. The robots will comp you the tickets. Oddly enough, writers will be more highly prized under SkyNet. Or so I've been told.

  • Brian Clark says:

    I love this, great work.
    But... I'd include DEMON SEED!
    Julie Christie carries the "Demon Seed." Fear for her.

  • Jen Yamato says:

    Yes! Great one. I wonder if Peter Bart stopped by to observe that set during filming...

  • Sarah says:

    I can't believe you forgot "Pulse" in which evil electricity (seriously) uses appliances to kill homeowners. Didn't everyone see that movie? Nope-just me, I think. I watched it as a kid because it starred Joey Lawrence. Obviously. Anyway, awesome article. "War Games" rules.

  • Martini Shark says:

    It's been done already - Eagle Eye. (I prefer to think of Shia as the robot).