Predator (1987)
April 12, 2018 7:05 PM - Subscribe

A team of commandos on a mission in a Central American jungle find themselves hunted by an extraterrestrial warrior.

LATimes: "Predator" is an ominous high-tech Stone-Age mixture--ominous because the production is high tech and the script, and its values and mentality, are Stone Age. It's in the bare-bones action-adventure mode that producers Joel Silver and Lawrence Gordon used in "The Warriors" and "The Driver," chic action-fables where nothing impedes the streamlined flow--neither logic, originality nor a single naturalistic moment. Sometimes the form works, but in "Predator," they've hit nada. There's a difference between Walter Hill's minimalism and vacuity--which is what we get from Jim and John Thomas' screenplay. It's arguably one of the emptiest, feeblest, most derivative scripts ever made as a major studio movie. There's no need to do a Mad magazine movie parody of this; it's already on the screen.

NYTimes: ''Predator,'' ... is alternately grisly and dull, with few surprises, though the creature's face, when finally revealed, has an interesting claw configuration where its mouth ought to be. The habitat is a good deal more interesting than the action, since it contains both floristy-looking palm fronds and large, deciduous trees that have produced some autumn leaves. The film was shot in Mexico.

Roger Ebert: [T]he action moves so quickly that we overlook questions such as (1) Why would an alien species go to all the effort to send a creature to Earth, just so that it could swing from trees and skin American soldiers? Or, (2) 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?

Empire: While the plot is structurally tight (the horror movie pick them off one-by-one format), McTiernan delights in the ritualisation of combat. The Predator is on a hunt, not for meat, but for prowess, competition, trophies (mainly human skulls and spinal cords). The soldiers are on a hunt (for missing hostages) equally enacting their own rituals of war and death — Bill Duke's Mac habitually shaving his hairless skull, Sonny Landham's Billy, the group scout, sniffs the air suspiciously, they all lavish attention upon the strict routines and orders of the mission. There is a comparison between two ugly species — tough guys against an alien being, not benign and bubble-eyed, not some technocratic invader, but a tribal, cruel race only marginally more technically advanced than themselves.

Read This: Why did critics hate Predator when it first came out?

Does ‘Predator’ Actually Suck


Predator: The Complete History

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Watch Jean-Claude Van Damme play a terrible version of Predator

Extreme Predator: The accidentally perfect 1987 double feature
posted by MoonOrb (29 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
So many future governors in this movie.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:14 PM on April 12, 2018 [10 favorites]

Looking at Predator, it lifts a lot from the original Alien and I guess Aliens.
It makes sense that the series have been so tightly linked, but that never would have happened if the Alien series hadn't gone so far downhill. Also, on that note, since Firefly takes place in the Alien universe, it also shares a universe with Predator.

I sometimes put it on and mute it while listening to music, which works pretty well because 90%
of the movie is about the visual unfolding onscreen.
posted by Query at 8:51 PM on April 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Predator: The Musical
posted by djb at 6:58 AM on April 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

... since Firefly takes place in the Alien universe

Wait. What?
posted by DrAstroZoom at 7:36 AM on April 13, 2018 [6 favorites]

This movie blew my mind when I finally saw it on VHS. The camouflage of the Predator was the pinnacle of special effects at the time. I don't think I was dazzled again until Terminator 2.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:42 AM on April 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

Too Much Red Meat: The Movie.

Which means, it's one of the best action movies of the 80s.
posted by lmfsilva at 7:45 AM on April 13, 2018

So many future governors in this movie.

I'm still waiting for Carl Weathers to make a run.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:32 AM on April 13, 2018 [5 favorites]

occasionally i wonder if i should feel at least some very basic level of shame for my extreme delight with every single movie in this franchise and the related AvP one, and the answer is always no. i regret nothing.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:37 AM on April 13, 2018 [10 favorites]

There's only one reaction to the critics of this film: "I don't have time to bleed."
posted by nubs at 9:06 AM on April 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

... since Firefly takes place in the Alien universe

Wait. What?

I did a quick Google on this - in the pilot of Firefly, a Weyland-Yutani logo is used.
posted by nubs at 9:09 AM on April 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

I know later films suggest they’re some kind of space hunter-warrior culture who just live like this, but I like to imagine the predator is like an space accountant or space shopkeeper, and just goes hunting on weekends sometimes. Way scarier if you think about it.
posted by rodlymight at 10:02 AM on April 13, 2018 [23 favorites]

YES SAME. i'm super weirdly invested in yautja canon and backstory; i say "weirdly" because i've made zero effort to engage with actual canon in any way outside of the wiki article and am instead super into the weird 3am insomnia headcanons i make up and forget about the very next day. i love the basic idea that they're a reasonably diverse sort of society and sometimes space janitors or space yoga instructors get caught up in intrigues with edgelords from the warrior caste, whether by choice or by crazy random happenstance. fanfic has failed me in this particular sense, unfortunately, which leads to a lot of me having face journeys on the 3 train imagining tired space commuters getting caught up in accidental intergalactic horrors.

like how can this society even afford to just fly around the universe hunting shit? if everyone is a warrior, who builds the ships? what are their resources, where is the profit in this primary activity? do other societies hire them to exterminate xenomorph infestations? what if they have to subsidize their trips by taking space bro MBAs as hunting tourists.

also there's definitely a fringe yautja cult that worships ellen ripley as an avatar of their warrior god.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:19 AM on April 13, 2018 [18 favorites]

Poffin, I do the same, most often with the Klingons. My only conclusion is that they enslaved some other race that develops the tech and manages the bureaucracy. I guess they could have scientists and such, but it is very difficult to picture a Klingon studying for a final exam in hotel management. The question often boils down to, "who is paying for all of this?!"
posted by Brocktoon at 12:29 PM on April 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

Ok but what if they're a weird and old-fashioned but nevertheless warmly embraced cultural relic for the rest of their society, like a cheerfully terrifying group of Museum Fremen. Maybe they apply for an arts grant to go out and hunt the most dangerous human game and everyone else in Yautja society feels really folkloric and connected to their ancient warrior roots.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:55 PM on April 13, 2018 [9 favorites]

Dear Ms. Rynh'jylz,

The Zra Xirshulv Memorial Fellowship is proud to present the enclosed grant proposal for your review.

As you may know, the late Zra Xirshulv made it their life's purpose to promote cultural continuity and a spirit of self-reliance among the Yautja by sending unblooded youths off-system to visit new worlds, meet their fiercest inhabitants, and tear out their spinal cords. We're determined to continue that mission, and with the assistance of your organization, we can sponsor a record number of disadvantaged college-age unbloods this year, giving them the boost they need to reach Bunda, Korari, and Yrth-Terha, fill up their bone-sacks, and mollify the dream ghosts of their ancestors. Won't you help us carry forward Zra's dream into the Epoch of Unceasing Calamity?

posted by Iridic at 2:53 PM on April 13, 2018 [24 favorites]

pls direct me to your patreon
posted by poffin boffin at 3:15 PM on April 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

Predator doesn't lift a lot from Alien, it basically is Alien with a change of scenery--instead of the group being picked off one by one in an enormous starship by the stealthy alien, they're in an enormous jungle, see. I don't know if the story about the Thomas brothers taking the old joke about Rocky IV seriously--that, after Rocky beat the superpowered Ivan Drago, the only way to go in the inevitable Rocky V would be for him to fight an alien--is true or not, but the resemblance is unmistakeable, as is that of Predator 2 is to Aliens (a government-backed squad attempts to deal with the problem, only for most of them to get wiped out almost comically fast).

That having been said, it's a pretty good script, albeit one that was allegedly doctored by Shane Black, who also plays Hawkins, the squad member who makes all the awful pussy jokes. (You have to admire someone who gives himself the worst lines.) The version of the Predator that actually shows up on screen--as opposed to the one that was going to be played by Jean-Claude Van Damme--is also a great design, and one that we can thank James Cameron for, since he told Stan Winston that he always wanted to see an alien with mandibles. And McTiernan paced the movie really well, letting the tension build in quiet moments.

A few other things, too: one, yes, the Planet of Hats trope is in full force here--I love the idea that these guys are really just the equivalent of accountants and dentists going on big game hunting jaunts and most of the Yautja are pretty chill. Speaking of game hunters, I find Ebert's mystification at the Predators' motives mystifying itself; surely he must have heard of, if not seen, The Most Dangerous Game. Finally, the late Kevin Peter Hall, who played the Predator in the first two films in the franchise, played an alien in TNG with a somewhat familar forehead. (Trek also "borrowed" from the Predator franchise with the design of the Nausicaans and the Kradin, as well as the entire lifestyle of the Hirogen.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:37 PM on April 13, 2018 [8 favorites]

The Natural History museum in New York is full of dioramas of taxidermied animals killed by rich dudes on safari. More recently there was Cecil the lion. The trump sons are also trophy hunters. Why wouldn't rich predators spend a bunch of money flying all over the galaxy killing stuff for fun?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:48 PM on April 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

I can't remember when I first saw this - probably television or payperview, but I put this on at least once a year.

Loved how the movie transitioned between a 'classic' action movie, where the protagonists are cruelly used by the CIA on false pretenses, then switches into a horror film, then switches again to a cat and mouse action movie.

The scene with Arnie covered in mud and being overlooked by the Predator? I was watching Rambo: First Blood (1982) again last week and there's an almost identical scene with Stallone covered in mud and also back to a wall of mud - only difference is, Stallone uses the opportunity to attack.

One thing that bothered me a tiny little bit is the makeshift bow - would there be suitable material to make something that powerful in a jungle without the option to cure it first?

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) also featured a bow... and exploding arrowheads.

Conan the Barbarian (1982) probably also contributed a bit to this re: the booby traps and Arnie using a gauntlet of them to get the baddie to where he wants them to go.

For some reason, one of the more powerful scenes was when Mac was traumatically shaving his head and he cuts himself. Don't know why, but that stuck with me; a lot longer than Carl Weather's severed arm holding down the trigger on full auto.
posted by porpoise at 5:46 PM on April 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Blaine and Mac: first gay couple who were heroes in a mainstream action movie?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:54 PM on April 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Acting, I feel like we described the same situation.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:54 PM on April 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Blaine and Mac: first gay couple who were heroes in a mainstream action movie?

Blaine with his awful never-actually-kissed-a-girl jokes ... maybe they could have brought in Steve Carrell's 40 Year Old Virgin character.
posted by zippy at 10:26 PM on April 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

So, I attended DragonCon 2010 and was backstage for one of the major costume contests (serving as a roadie for someone). The kind where people spend thousands of dollars on their getups and all that. One of the competitors was in a full Predator outfit, complete with a working self destruct countdown on their gauntlet.

We spent several minutes discussing how great the Cake Wrecks blog was while everybody was waiting for the judges.

This is why my personal fanon is that all Predators love terrible cakes.
posted by mordax at 10:49 PM on April 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

oh god i hope they have their own version of netflix's Nailed It
posted by poffin boffin at 7:22 AM on April 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

Top 10 Hunt Fails - NSFH
posted by tobascodagama at 7:31 AM on April 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

rodlymight "just goes hunting on weekends sometimes"

In the first one, its a little ambiguous, but when the 'bras' show up at the end of 2, its kind of obvious that the predators that we encounter are weekend warriors on a paid safari types. Predator 3 parodied the entire thing with a Predator theme park planet.
posted by porpoise at 11:07 PM on April 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Like, look at all of that over the top gear. NONE of that gear could kill Arnie, in the end (and a lot of it crapped out at some point).

Weekend Warrior.
posted by porpoise at 11:12 PM on April 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

One thing that bothered me a tiny little bit is the makeshift bow - would there be suitable material to make something that powerful in a jungle without the option to cure it first?

Do you think ordinary elastic would be able to keep Dutch's pants up?
posted by biffa at 9:01 AM on April 16, 2018

One of the competitors was in a full Predator outfit, complete with a working self destruct countdown on their gauntlet.

So obviously you asked him whether it set off a nuclear explosion or just a powerful chemical reaction?
posted by biffa at 9:05 AM on April 16, 2018

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