- "It came for the thrill of the hunt. It picked the wrong man to hunt."
- ―Predator tagline
|Directed by||John McTiernan|
|Produced by|| Joel Silver|
|Written by|| Jim Thomas|
|Starring|| Arnold Schwarzenegger|
Kevin Peter Hall
|Editing|| Mark Helfrich|
John F. Link
|Distributor||20th Century Fox|
|Release date(s)||June 12, 1987|
|Running time||107 minutes|
|Worldwide Gross|| $60,000,000 (US)|
|Followed by||Predator 2|
Predator is a 1987 science fiction and action film directed by John McTiernan, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura and Kevin Peter Hall. The story follows an elite team of mercenaries on a mission to rescue hostages from a guerrilla group in Central America. However, once there the group is hunted by an extraterrestrial lifeform that kills for sport.
Reaction to the film was generally favorable, and the film grossed US$60 million in the United States, and has gone on to develop a cult following. The film has generated two sequels, Predator 2 (1990) and Predators (2010), as well as two crossover films with the Alien franchise, Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007).
A team of elite mercenaries, led by ex-special forces Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer, arrives on the coast of Guatemala, having been hired by the U.S. Army and the CIA to rescue a presidential cabinet minister kidnapped by guerrilla forces in neighboring Val Verde. Dutch's old Special Forces buddy and now CIA agent, Dillon, is to accompany the squad on the mission, against Dutch's wishes. The team crosses the border by helicopter and rope down into the jungle.
Once inserted, they soon find the remains of the downed helicopter that had been carrying the cabinet minister and his aide, and later the bodies of several skinned men, all hanging from the trees. They are identified as an Army Special Forces unit led by an old friend of Dutch's, and their presence in the country seems a mystery. Dutch and his squad soon make their way to a heavily defended rebel encampment and take out its inhabitants in short order, including a Soviet military advisor. After the firefight they capture a girl named Anna, whom Dillon insists they take prisoner. They discover that the hostages have already been executed, leading to the revelation that the "cabinet minister" and his aide were actually CIA agents. Dillon confesses to an enraged Dutch that the rescue mission had been a setup from the beginning — Dillon's agents were captured reconnoitering the real base ahead of a suspected guerrilla incursion into neighboring Guatemala. When the previously discovered American Special Forces unit failed and disappeared on their rescue mission, Dillon tricked Dutch into taking the job and eliminating the rebels.
As the team make their way to the extraction point, they are observed from afar by an unknown creature using thermal imaging. After two members of the team are mysteriously slain, the survivors become aware that something in the jungle is stalking them. Dillon insists more guerrillas are responsible, but one of the squad members, Billy, is adamant that the perpetrator is not human, an assertion that is met with some scepticism. The team makes camp for the night, setting traps in all directions. Something triggers the booby traps, but the culprit is found to be a wild boar. However, the squad also discovers that the body of one of their dead comrades has been taken discreetly from their midst, despite their supposedly impenetrable defenses.
Increasingly convinced that what hunts them is not human, Dutch quizzes Anna for insight into the creature, which she reveals has apparently become a local legend for hunting humans as trophies. Despite attempts to trap and kill the creature, the team is slowly killed off one by one until only Dutch and Anna remain. Realizing the creature only kills those who are armed, a wounded Dutch sends Anna to the extraction point unarmed while he holds the creature off. He is no match however, and narrowly escapes the creature — revealed to be a masked, bipedal alien protected by advanced active camouflage — by accidentally covering himself in mud, which masks the infra-red heat signature coming from his body that the creature sees.
Despite having lost most of his weapons, Dutch decides to confront the creature one last time, using the mud as camouflage and a number of improvised weapons and traps to kill it. He lights a large fire and screams into the jungle to announce his survival to his opponent. The creature soon arrives, and despite Dutch initially having the upper hand and successfully disabling the creature's active camouflage, it soon manages to corner him. In a display of chivalry, the creature removes its advanced weaponry and mask, unveiling its monstrous face, before challenging Dutch to a final duel in hand-to-hand combat.
Even now, Dutch is no match and receives a brutal beating. Cornered and with the predator recognising and avoiding his final trap, Dutch triggers the trap himself, causing the log counterweight to drop onto the creature, crushing it. Standing over the mortally wounded alien, Dutch questions out loud what it is. The creature eerily mimics his words (in garbled English) and then activates a time bomb on its wrist device while laughing maniacally. Dutch runs for cover as a massive explosion ignites the jungle. The following day, Anna returns aboard a rescue helicopter to find Dutch has barely survived the blast, and they pick him up before heading back to base.
- Dutch .... Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Dillon .... Carl Weathers
- Anna .... Elpidia Carrillo
- Mac .... Bill Duke
- Blain .... Jesse Ventura
- Billy .... Sonny Landham
- Poncho .... Richard Chaves
- General Phillips .... R.G. Armstrong
- Hawkins .... Shane Black
- The Predator ....
For a few months, following the release of Rocky IV, a joke was making rounds in Hollywood. Since Rocky Balboa had run out of earthly opponents, he would have to fight an alien if a fifth installment of his boxing series were to be made. Screenwriters Jim and John Thomas took the joke seriously and wrote a screenplay based on the joke. The Thomas script for Predator was originally titled Hunter. It was picked up by 20th Century Fox in 1985, and turned over to producer Joel Silver who, based on his experience with Commando, seemed the right choice to turn the vintage science fiction pulp storyline into a big-budget film. Silver enlisted his former boss Lawrence Gordon as co-producer and John McTiernan was hired as director for his first studio film.
According to the documentaries included on the Region 1 release of the special edition, the original monster suit was vastly different from the final product, designed by Stan Winston. Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally slated to play the creature, but allegedly made claims that the suit was "too clumsy and too hot". The original monster was a disproportionate, overweight creature with a duck-like head. It was nowhere near as agile as the creature portrayed by Kevin Peter Hall. After Van Damme was removed from the film and subsequent financial troubles with the studio nearly caused the project to shut down, McTiernan consulted Stan Winston. While on a plane ride to Fox studios alongside Aliens director James Cameron, Winston sketched monster ideas. Cameron suggested he had always wanted to see a creature with 'mandibles' which became part of the Predator's iconic look.
Silver and Gordon first approached Arnold Schwarzenegger with the lead role.
Schwarzenegger said, "The first thing I look for in a script is a good idea, a majority of scripts are rip-offs of other movies. People think they can become successful overnight. They sat down one weekend and wrote a script because they read that Stallone did that with Rocky. Predator was one of the scripts I read, and it bothered me in one way. It was just me and the alien. So we re-did the whole thing so that it was a team of commandos and then I liked the idea. I thought it would make a much more effective movie and be much more believable. I liked the idea of starting out with an action-adventure, but then coming in with some horror and science fiction."
To play the elite band of mercenaries, both Silver and Gordon, with co-producer John Davis, put out a casting net for other larger-than-life men of action. Carl Weathers, who had been memorable as boxer Apollo Creed in the Rocky films was their first choice to play Dillon, while professional wrestler and former Navy UDT Jesse Ventura was hired for his formidable physique as Blain. Native Americans Sonny Landham and Richard Chaves, and African-American Bill Duke, who co-starred alongside Schwarzenegger in Commando, provided the ethnic balance. As a favor to the writer of Joel Silver's blockbuster Lethal Weapon, the studio hired screenplay writer Shane Black not only to play a supporting role in the film, but also to keep an eye on McTiernan due to the director's inexperience.
Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally cast as the Predator creature, the idea being that the physical action star would use his martial arts skills to make the Predator an agile, ninja-esque hunter. When compared to Schwarzenegger, Weathers, and Ventura, actors known for their bodybuilding regimens, it became apparent a more physically-imposing man was needed to make the creature appear threatening. Additionally, it was reported that Van Damme constantly complained about the monster suit being too hot, causing him to pass out. He also had allegedly voiced his reservations on numerous occasions regarding the fact he would not be appearing on camera without the suit. Jesse Ventura's autobiographical book also alleges Van Damme intentionally injured a stunt man. Van Damme was removed from the film and replaced by Kevin Peter Hall. Hall, standing at an imposing 7 foot 2, had just finished work as a sasquatch in Harry and the Hendersons.
Commitments by Schwarzenegger delayed the start of filming by several months. The delay gave Silver enough time to secure a minor rewrite from screenwriter David Peoples. Principal photography eventually began in the jungles of Palenque, Mexico, near Villahermosa, Tabasco, during the second week of April 1986, but the film overall was filmed in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Much of the material dealing with the unit's deployment in the jungle was completed in a few short weeks and both Silver and Gordon were pleased by the dailies provided by McTiernan. On Friday, April 25, production halted so that Schwarzenegger could fly to Hyannis Port in a Lear jet chartered by Silver in order to get to his wedding on time. He was married on April 26, 1986, to Maria Shriver, and honeymooned for two weeks in Antigua, while the second unit completed additional lensing. The production resumed filming on May 12.
Both director McTiernan and Schwarzenegger lost 25 pounds during the film. Schwarzenegger's weight loss was a professional choice. McTiernan lost the weight because he avoided the food in Mexico due to health concerns. In an interview, Carl Weathers said the actors would secretly wake up as early as 3:00 a.m. to work out before the day's shooting. Weathers also stated that he would act as if his physique was naturally given to him, and would work out only after the other actors were nowhere to be seen. It was reported that actor Sonny Landham was so unstable on the set that a bodyguard was hired; not to protect Landham, but to protect the other cast members from Landham.
According to Schwarzenegger, filming was physically demanding as he had to swim in very cold water and spent three weeks covered in mud for the climactic battle with the alien. In addition, cast and crew endured very cold temperatures in the Mexican jungle that required heat lamps to be on all of the time. Cast and crew filmed on rough terrain that, according to the actor, was never flat, "always on a hill. We stood all day long on a hill, one leg down, one leg up. It was terrible." Schwarzenegger also faced the challenge of working with Kevin Peter Hall, who could not see in the Predator suit. The actor remembers, "so when he's supposed to slap me around and stay far from my face, all of a sudden, whap! There is this hand with claws on it!" Hall stated in an interview that his experience on the film, "wasn't a movie, it was a survival story for all of us." For example, in the scene where the Predator chases Dutch, the water was foul, stagnant and full of leeches. Hall could not see out of the mask and had to rehearse his scenes with it off and then memorize where everything was. The outfit was difficult to wear because it was heavy and off-balance.
R/Greenberg Associates created the film's optical effects, including the alien's ability to become invisible, its thermal vision point-of-view, its glowing blood, and the electrical spark effects. The invisibility effect was achieved by having someone in a bright red suit (because it was the farthest opposite of the green of the jungle and the blue of the sky) the size of the Predator. The red was removed with chroma key techniques, leaving an empty area. The take was then repeated without the actors using a 30% wider lens on the camera. When the two takes were combined optically, the jungle from the second take filled in the empty area. Because the second take was filmed with a wider lens, a vague outline of the alien could be seen with the background scenery bending around its shape. For the thermal vision, infrared film could not be used because it did not register in the range of body temperature wavelengths. The filmmakers used an inframetrics thermal video scanner as it gave good heat images of objects and people. The glowing blood was achieved by green liquid from glow sticks used by campers and mixed with personal lubricant for texture. The electrical sparks were rotoscoped animation using white paper pin registered on portable light tables to black and white prints of the film frames. The drawings were composited by the optical crew for the finished effects. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Visual Effects.
- See: Deleted scenes
Released on June 12, 1987, Predator was #1 at the box office in its opening weekend. Its opening weekend gross of $12 million was second to Beverly Hills Cop II in 1987. The film grossed $60 million in the U.S. and $98 million at the worldwide box office.
Initial critical reaction to the film was generally negative with critics focusing on the lack of story and excitement. Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times described it as "grisly and dull, with few surprises" Peter Stack of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that the film is "a rather pointless thing when you get down to it, has little of the provocative intelligence that was found in "Terminator." But at least it's self-propelling in terms of suspense and cheap thrills." Dean Lamanna wrote in Cinefantastique that "the militarized monster movie tires under its own derivative weight." Variety wrote that the film was a "slightly above-average actioner that tries to compensate for tissue-thin-plot with ever-more-grisly death sequences and impressive special effects." Michael Wilmington wrote a negative review focusing on the story, proclaiming it as "arguably one of the emptiest, feeblest, most derivative scripts ever made as a major studio movie."
Among the positive reviews, Roger Ebert praised the film stating that, "it has good location photography and terrific special effects, and it supplies what it claims to supply: an effective action movie" but still noted that "the action moves so quickly that we overlook questions such as why would an alien species go to all the effort to send a creature to earth, just so that it could swing from the trees and skin American soldiers? Or, why would a creature so technologically advanced need to bother with hand-to-hand combat, when it could just zap Arnold with a ray gun".
Reaction to the film has warmed with time. In 2007, Entertainment Weekly named it the #22 greatest action movie of all time. The magazine also ranked the film 14th on their "The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years" list.
As of October 2013, the film holds a 78% positive on Rotten Tomatoes.
- Chronologically speaking, Predator is the first film in the Alien, Predator and Alien vs. Predator franchise (not counting the flashback sequence in Alien vs. Predator or the the opening scene of Prometheus).
- The actor who appears briefly as the Russian advisor, Sven-Ole Thorsen, is an old bodybuilding partner and good friend of Arnold Schwarzenegger. To date, he has appeared on-screen (usually in minor non-speaking roles) in no less than twelve Schwarzenegger movies, including Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Destroyer, Red Sonja, Raw Deal, Predator, The Running Man, Red Heat, Twins, Last Action Hero, Eraser, End of Days and Collateral Damage. He has also worked behind the scenes as a trainer on several more Schwarzenegger films.
- See: Goofs
- Predator (novel) — The novelization of the film by Paul Monette.
- Predator (1987 video game) — The 1987 video game based on the film.
- Predator (soundtrack) - The film's soundtrack.
- Predator at the Internet Movie Database
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- ↑ "Predator". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 2008-01-30.
- ↑ Sonny Landham - Biography
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- ↑ "1987 DOMESTIC GROSSES". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2008-01-30.
- ↑ "Predator (1987)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2008-01-30.
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- ↑ Ebert, Roger (1987-06-12). "Predator". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on 2008-01-30.
- ↑ Bernardin, Mac. "The 25 Greatest Action Films Ever!". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2008-01-30.
- ↑ "Predator Movie Reviews". Retrieved on 2013-08-31.