Movies stay up-to-date with modern times as a cunning way of reminding us viewers Hey, were in the same world! Reflecting our own craving for new, exciting gadgets across the years, the progression of technology therefore plays a part in how movies unspool. In the eighties, fax machines and pagers were slowly phased out to make way for cell phones that required a car-sized battery attachment (ahem, Gordon Gekko), which then led to smart phones and tablets becoming go-to props for handy story developments.
The use of technology in cinema certainly makes for some nifty visuals and plot devices. However, the very nature of humans mean that we inherently misuse it and become entangled in its alluring promise. The freedom and flexibility every advancement offers is great and all, but what happens when that technology goes awry and tries to kill you? As the Skype generation horror Unfriended launches into cinemas this weekend, weve crafted a handy rundown of films which have made us terrified to switch on...
The Shaft (2001)
The movie: Naomi Watts plays a feisty reporter investigating a series of bizarre incidents inside a gigantic skyscraper after the building is struck by lightning.
Terrifying tech: Although the title suggests some sort of techno-phallic horror (the male equivalent to Teeth perhaps?) this is about a killer elevator. Presumably the lightning kickstarted the lifts vendetta against humans. After years of abuse it snaps and started sending everyone to the same place: HELL. What? Its on the cover.
The takeaway: If Naomi Watts is investigating something in your building - scarper. For further evidence see: The Ring (2002).
The movie: An FBI cybercrime specialist (Diane Lane) is tasked with the unenviable job of investigating a website broadcasting live murders. The victims of the films dont appear to be connected, but as she delves deeper it turns out that shes also being targeted.
Terrifying tech: The psychopathic genius behind the site rigs up a webcam to the hit counter (aw, hit counters - yay!) on killwithme.com. When the amount of views registered hits a specific number, his latest victim is killed. Live. On the Internet.
The takeaway: Always keep your eye on the light next to your webcam.
The movie: A small-town radio show presenter Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) holes up at the station along with his assistant Laurel-Ann (Georgina Reilly) and station manager Sydney (Lisa Houle) when reports start to emerge of a strange epidemic (think zombie thugs) taking over the community...
Terrifying tech: A bog standard AM radio. As is later revealed, the radio stations own transmissions are to blame for the escalating violence in the streets. The infection is spread through use of certain words in the English language, and with each broadcast theyve only gone and boosted the virus longevity over the airwaves.
The takeaway: Careful what you say when you call Smooth FM.
They Live (1988)
The movie: During a stint on a construction site, San Franciscan drifter Nada (Roddy Piper) stumbles upon a plot where it seems something or someone is planning to take over the world.
Terrifying tech: Oddly enough, a pair of futuristic sunglasses. When worn they allow the wearer to see the horrifying reality of life: the entire planet is being run by totalitarian aliens, whose melting skull-like faces line the streets along with a ton of brainwashing billboards and ads.
The takeaway: Be wary of the latest fashion trends. Theyre only trying to make you conform!
The movie: Another eerie Japanese export that zeroes in on the separation between people during the Internet age, Kiyoshi Kurosawas 2001 scarefest follows a group of students who explore a mysterious website following the suicide of their friend.
Terrifying tech: A haunted Internet is plagued by ghosts who believe they can offer humans immortality by killing them, thereby allowing them to live on forever in the digital realm.
The takeaway: Even the dead can monitor your RedTube activity.
Demon Seed (1977)
The movie: Genius scientist Dr. Alex Harris (Fritz Weaver) creates an autonomous A.I. system called Proteus, and feeds it a wealth of information which makes the machine alarmingly smart. A bit too smart, actually. As it gains confidence it breaks into Harris home computer network to experience more of the world.
Terrifying tech: A sentient home security system. Not content with the obvious fun to be had (locking you out in the rain, etc.), Proteus decides it wants what we all want: a family of its own. So it artificially inseminates Harriss wife Susan with a bunch of cells it stole from her mixed with synthesised sperm.
Smart homes can text to let you know if you left a window open, which is great; but who wants to deal with their unwanted advances?
The takeaway: Not all homegrown A.I. systems are funny like JARVIS.
The movie: Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) purchases an old Plymouth Fury from a dodgy junkyard dealer and sets about renovating her. Its only once shes spic n span that the cars true nature is revealed.
Terrifying tech: An automobile called Christine. The beautiful Fury surges to life and starts changing the personality of its owner from a nice, unpopular geek into a smarmy arse and then kills all of Arnies enemies.
The takeaway: Think twice before shouting at your Fiesta when it wont start in subzero temperatures.
Terror Vision (1986)
The movie: A precursor to the satellite dish age, TerrorVision tells of a normal American family who are suddenly able to receive hundreds of satellite channels when their jerry-built TV antenna is blasted by a bolt of lightning.
Terrifying technology: The television picking up the channels is a conduit for an alien castaway (its an extraterrestrial mutant called Hunger Beast beamed down to Earth) who pierces the membrane between TV and real life and starts chowing down on the audience.
The takeaway: You really dont need all those channels.
The Net (1995)
The movie: Sandra Bullocks chipper computer programmer is hunted down by several government agencies under the assumption shes someone else on their radar. And she just wanted to order a pizza and play an old MS-DOS text-based adventure.
Terrifying tech: Despite celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year, The Nets central message - GAH! The Internet! Its evil! - is just as relevant now as it was then. Your identity really can be swiped.
The takeaway: Hitting the always option after the remember your password prompt appears on your computer down at the local library? Probably not the best idea.
The Lawnmower Man (1992)
The movie: Pierce Brosnans computer scientist Lawrence Angelo convinces groundskeeper Jobe Smith (Jeff Fahey) to be a test subject for his experiments on human intelligence.
Terrifying technology: Virtual reality. Today its used for a variety of harmless simulations. For former grass cutter Jobe, whose newly-gifted talents include telepathy, telekinesis, and pyrokinesis, the advent of that technology transforms him into a very dangerous individual.
He enters the virtual world to mow down someones brain. And then he does the same thing in the real world with a real lawnmower.
The takeaway: Tip your gardener.
Stay Alive (2006)
The movie: A load of gamers decide to play a horror survival game they discover in their dead friends possessions. In spite of its perilous title - Stay Alive - and the fact that their buddy was playing it before he died, they fail to see the connection and play anyway.
Terrifying tech: Video games. This one in particular is possessed by a particularly cranky ghost whose only option for returning to life is to steer you towards a grisly fate! Yes, the message might be a bit heavy-handed but the sight of the eerie spirit wiping out these kids is pretty harrowing.
The takeaway: When its game over, its really game over. Man.
The movie: A typical suburban household is taken hostage by a swarm of unseen entities, who delight in utilising the latest mod cons to completely unhinge the entire family.
Terrifying tech: The telly. When not transmitting the usual array of programming, it also channels malevolent spirits who are more than happy to whisk your children away to an alternate dimension.
The takeaway: Always keep an eye on what the kids are watching.
The movie: The small town of Woodsboro is turned upside down when a killer with a flair for pop culture stalks its high schoolers, while offering them the chance to live if they can correctly answer his questions on horror movie trivia.
Terrifying tech: The good ole mobile phone. Now a permanent fixture in most peoples pockets, in the mid nineties, cell phones were the next step in telecommunications. The ability for a person to literally be right outside your door while calling you, and even inside the house, is still utterly horrifying.
The takeaway: If you dont recognise the number, dont answer the phone. (If its not a masked homicidal maniac, its probably a telemarketer.)
The movie: Following a series of seemingly random murders, a reporter begins investigating the deaths which lead her to an old sealed-up well in the mountains...
Terrifying tech: A VHS cassette. Generally harmless, the tape in Ringu is in fact cursed by the ghost of a dead girl who crawls from the TV and kills the last person to have watched it - unless they make a copy and give it someone else. Brings a whole new meaning to the term viral video.
The takeaway: FACT might not like it, but it definitely promotes video piracy doesnt it?
The Fly (1986)
The movie: Desperate for recognition, inventor Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) designs a unique device to usher in a new era of technological development. Shame he sort of bumbles it by hastily doing a test run under the influence.
Terrifying tech: A teleportation device which, if not properly tested can go off-label and act as a hybridiser! Sadly, Brundle discovers this too late when he enters one pod and a common housefly enters another, resulting in the monstrous concoction known as... Brundlefly. Its pretty advanced so its unlikely to pose too much of a threat to your normal day-to-day activities.
The takeaway: Dont attempt potentially life-altering experiments with a bellyful of booze and no adult supervision.
The movie: David Cronenbergs takedown of mass media unravels through the story of Max Renn (James Woods), the manager of a local Canadian TV station who discovers a signal broadcasting a grim stream of mutilation and torture. Naturally, he decides to air it on his network in order to boost ratings.
Terrifying tech: The glorious idiot box known as television is twisted into an allegory for modern day audiences desire to consume an endless stream of nonsense.The gruesome content Renn sends over his feed winds up causing actual brain tumours in viewers.
The takeaway: Watching telly all day wont just make you terrible at social scenarios, but will literally destroy your brain.