A Look Back On Predator (1987)
32 years ago today in 1987 we were introduced to the world's most badass Alien and one of the best Sci Fi/Action/Horror movies to ever touchdown on planet earth. The movie I'm talking about of course is Predator!
Now personally for me I have some of the fondest memories of this movie from watching it with my dad on the old school "taped" VHS Tapes straight from the TV. I remember specifically that we had taped it off of FX and oddly enough still some of the commercial breaks that were woven in between this Horror classic, I subconsciously wait for in the spots where Cable TV placed the breaks in the movie and I would wear that VHS tape out more and more everyday and you know what? It was for good reason because not only did it become a staple for me and my childhood but as I grew a bit older I quickly realized how much the rest of the world loved it as well.
Now let's dive into just what makes Predator the Classic that it most definitely is.
Well a good place to start is Predator quite possibly may still all these years later hold the title for the manliest man movie you could possibly find. From it's Badass Weapons, to it's explosions, to it's muscle bound kickass action heroes and to it's awesome one liners that are still imprinted in our minds till this very day like "I ain't got time to bleed" you truly can't get a better dose of manly men doing badass things than this.
Which goes to my next point. That also plays in the movies favor cause that build up you get way before the Predator is even introduced in the film, keep in mind a film with a unit of some of the biggest macho men you've ever seen on screen that have seen it all and done it all only adds to the fact that when you see them getting scared you know as an audience that they're truly in over their heads tenfold and this is some deep stuff like we've never seen before I mean what is this thing?!?!
And oh what a slow burn reveal it is. It's easy to think about the Predator as a character before the movie even starts because it's so ingrained in our heads by now all these years later but I like to play a game with my mind each time I watch it and imagine what the audience was thinking step by step leading up to the big reveal of what they were actually dealing with, with each passing watch cause I imagine back in 1987 you were just thinking you were getting a standard war movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger pulling off some amazing action sequences all while flexing and even though that's what you got initially and quite effectively I might add. It turned into so much more.
From the moment they arrived in the Jungle and Billy found the dead hanging bodies their crew were there to look for and Billy was quick to say none of any of this makes sense. No man could carry those lifeless bodies up there into them trees, your hair was raising on your neck and you might not of known what but you knew something was off and the Billy character becomes sort of a gauge for the audience as we see him a few times with his antennas up just staring off into the jungle. Cause he might not see or know what's out there but he can definitely sense it and feel it and whatever it is it ain't going to be good.
From there you get your one war scene that was a well made little battle with the classic Schwarzenegger line "Stick around" as he pins a enemy soldier to a post with a knife! Did I say this movie is a classic yet?!?! Shortly after all the enemies are deceased and one hostage is taken we get the big reveal with Dillon setting them up which raises another red flag in your brain as to what's really going on here. Then that leads to Dillon being a little more on edge since his jig is up and Mac makes his way over to him with his knife drawn and stabs Dillon in the back or did he? From the look on Dillon's face you definitely would have thought he did but it was actually Mac helping him cause he in fact stabbed a scorpion that was making his way up Dillon's shoulder but I also like to look at it as Mac took the golden opportunity to mess with Dillon's head and let him know if I wanted to, you would have got GOT right there but what's this? There's something above them watching them from the trees in some sorta heat seeking vision??? Again your what is going on meter is further elevating.
Meanwhile Poor Hawkins finally lands a joke with Billy and we see that whatever this thing is it can copy voices and we see it's arm and set of claws....what.....is....this....thing...???
Well the build up only continues when you see the creature or do you? It's more of an outline because it has this weird damn near invisible camouflage that perfectly let's in blend in with the trees (like the chameleon as said in the movie) until you finally see it without the camouflage and you're like that's what it is?!?! Only building to that final bout the Predator has with Dutch when it takes it's mask off and you get your last layer of OMG! Brilliant build and brilliant execution.
And let's take a second to talk about that Minigun particularly in the scene where Mac started to lose it and they just basically mow down the Jungle. One of my favorite scenes in any movie ever.
Now I've talked about how awesome the characters are as a whole but let's dive into them individually.
Dutch - I mean what else is there to say about Schwarzenegger's performance as Dutch. He's not only an awesome leader that'll try his best to save as many of his fleet that he can but also the way he didn't back down and decided to take the Predator head on in a very satisfying climax.
Dillon - Dillon might have been a double crosser but truthfully even though he was fueled by revenge I think deep down he still cared about Dutch and company he just couldn't see through his rage. Unfortunately that rage not only got him killed but also got damn near everyone else with him killed.
Billy - as I said before Billy is kind of the Gauge for the audience on just how bad things were getting. You could tell he was like a human compass with his tracking abilities and that also naturally gave him a better feel of the Jungle than the rest of the crew. He could feel the Predator watching their every move and the movie definitely benefited from having Billy on board.
Blane - This dude just reminded me of an outlaw. A stubborn, no cares given, Tobacco Spitting bad, bad maaaaaaan unfortunately he was fooled by of all things a small harmless critter of the jungle and met his demise but even as one of the first victims of the Predator Blane definitely left his impact although, he proved that he did in fact have time to bleed.
Mac- Mac became a mixture of two characters already in the movie once Blane went down. Reason being because he became angsty and on edge like Billy only less calm and calculated and he became bloodthirsty and out for revenge like Dillon trying to get revenge for his best friend of the group Blane. Mac was already an interesting character as the more quiet one of the group that you could sense a bit of a dark side with but it was also fun to watch him go completely off of the rails. Sad to say he never had him some fun.
Pancho - along with Hawkins seemed the least badass of the characters but he served his purpose. He was resourceful but became a drag when he took that swinging log to the gut when the Predator made a trap go haywire but nevertheless Pancho was a solid character. I guess he didn't have time to duck.
Hawkins- was really the outsider of the group and it got to a point where you really just wanted him to make one person laugh with his lame jokes as he tried to bring a lightheartedness to all the mayhem that was around everyone. At least he got one out of Billy but then again in turn that turned into the Predators laugh that haunted our dreams for years to come. I guess The Predator got the last laugh.
Anna - what started out as a quiet hostage turned into not only just as much of a lead as the rest of the guys but also someone who could add further to the heightened sense of tension we had waiting to find out what the Predator actually was. She did this with haunting ghost like stories of where she's from and the look on her face when the Predator took Hawkins. The Jungle didn't come alive but it might as well have
Predator - Kevin Peter Hall made his mark on this character and is the quintessential Predator bar none. Not many people know that Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally supposed to play the Predator with The Predator taking on a FAR inferior different look and thank god they scrapped that cause in turn we got this Action/Sci Fi/Horror masterpiece in return. With Hall's enormous size making Schwarzenegger look pint size height wise, to the way he moved with his background in Ballet with lengthy grace, to the overall design of the Predator, to the weapons that the Predator had in his arsenal, to the revelation that he was a hunter and collected the skulls of his victims, to the mutual respect there almost seemed to be between The Predator and Dutch in their final bout. It just added a whole other wrinkle into this type of flick where typically your main antagonist is just out for blood. This Alien is no different than the people here that go Deer Hunting. In the words of Dutch "he's killing for sport" the Predator to this day is one of the greatest creations put on screen.
Then the setting of the Jungle. How can you go wrong with dropping a bunch of action stars into a Jungle environment? Nuff said!
The cinematography was also great in said Jungle setting utilizing everything to the best of their capabilities.
The writing with all of those priceless late 80's/ Early 90's dialogue and the little touches they put into like Mac with his razor digging into his skin till it inevitably snapped to break the silence.
Truthfully guys I can rant and rave all day about this Action/Sci Fi/Horror masterpiece but I think we have come to a close here.
Although I'm also a huge fan of 2 with Danny Glover at the helm even though yet and still it doesn't hold a candle to the first Original. Objectively speaking we still seem to be asking ourselves when will we get another good Predator movie? Or will we ever get another good Predator movie? Now, that I'm afraid I don't have the answer to but at least we have the Masterpiece that is Predator and it firmly sits right "over here" firmly in my Blu-Ray player on any given day at "anytime"