Anyone who’s seen either the original “Terminator” or “Terminator 2" knows the cyborg from the future is practically unstoppable. As though snuffing out dozens of people while raking in millions at the box office isn’t enough, it turns out he can do one more thing: remove screen credits. At least that’s what Edgar Award-winning writer Harlan Ellison thinks. And he ought to know. It’s his credit.
After the original “Terminator” was released in 1984, Ellison sued the filmmakers saying that portions of the film had been lifted from his works. The well-known science-fiction writer eventually won the case. Although, as part of the agreement, the principals were not allowed to discuss the terms of the settlement, one thing is known: Ellison was to receive screen credit at the end of the film “gratefully acknowledging his work” on all showings of the movie, including television, videocassettes and laser discs. (“Terminator 2" will not carry the credit to Ellison because the sequel doesn’t draw from Ellison’s work.)
Now, according to Ellison, his credit on “The Terminator” has disappeared. “The agreement we entered into five years ago has been breached,” says the writer, who recently bought a laser-disc copy of the film. “The credit is not on the laser disc.”
Ellison and his attorney Henry W. Holmes Jr. aren’t sitting still. “If there isn’t a resolution, we will take appropriate action,” says Holmes.
They may not have to. According to Patrick Cousins, director of product development for Image Entertainment, the company that released the “Terminator” laser disc, an older version of the film without the screen credit had been shipped. “There are some copies floating around that predated the agreement,” he says. “They were made about the same time as the film’s original release.”
Cousins says the new letterboxed version of “Terminator” that was released on Monday has Ellison’s credit back in.
“I’m glad to hear that,” says Ellison, “but I won’t believe it until I see it.”
Maybe we can get the Terminator to deliver a copy to him.