As Predator celebrates its landmark anniversary, Getintothis’ Philip Newton urges you to stick around as he takes a deeper look at the sci-fi masterpiece.
What would you say is the “best” Schwarzenegger film? Terminator (or T2)? Total Recall? Running Man?
All good guesses, but, of course, all wrong – Arnie’s magnum opus is unquestionably Predator.
Of course, such a definitive judgement is partly based on personal experience and rose tinted nostalgia – I remember fondly the thrill of having my Dad rent the VHS of it out for me when I was a callow eleven year old from the Allerton Road Blockbuster, and immediately jamming it into the player and strapping myself in.
I was not to be disappointed.
Indeed, Predator is now so deeply ingrained into my conscious mind that I find myself reacting to people who tell me they haven’t seen it in in much the same way as I do with people who haven’t seen Star Wars or voted Tory – a vague sense of disbelief, coupled with a genuine curiosity as to why someone would do that to themselves.
Predator tells of professional army-man hardcase Dutch (Schwarzenegger) and his group of assorted Special Forces bad asses being dumped into a Central American Jungle on some sort of rescue mission, with CIA pencil pusher Dillon (Carl Weathers) in tow.
The film thankfully is a little sketchy on the greater detail of this initial set up, as the real action starts when the members of the squad start to get picked off one by one by an invisible, technologically superior alien hunter. Its basically 1000% heavy metal thunder for the entirety of the film, and every single line is solid gold and burned upon my psyche for the rest of time.
Enough prattling – this year sees the 30th anniversary of this masterpiece, so what better way to celebrate such an auspicious occasion than to have 30 amazing facts about the film.
1. The film is set in the fictional Central American country of Val Verde
Although there is some recent-ish controversy over the film’s unstated setting, Schwarzenegger producer Steven de Souza created the fictional country for other films like Commando and Die Hard 2 and has previously stated that he believes Predator is indeed set there.
Interestingly, having an unseen killer blending in to the jungle could be seen to be something of a nod to the spectre of the Vietnam war in Hollywood’s psyche – something which (a little more overtly) comes across in James Cameron’s Aliens. More on Cameron later.
Only learned all this after pushing for Val Verde for our Honeymoon. You live and learn.
2. Schwarzenegger got married during the production and only took 3 days for his Honeymoon
Speaking of Honeymoons
3. The line “stick around” was ad-libbed by Schwarzenegger
As if the man couldn’t already be any better.
4. The film was originally touted as “Rocky fights ET”
Given the success of the Rocky films, those ever imaginative suits in Hollywood apparently thought the only other fighter Rocky could fight is an alien. So, I think we can be grateful that Predator morphed into the beast it eventually turned out to be, and also hopeful that this original pitch can one day be made into a reality. I see Tony Bellew has started an acting career –in a Rocky inspired film, no less – so you never know.
5. The film was originally titled “Hunter”
And was only changed to Predator in post-production. This also raises some questions about the original boxing pitch. Was an alien boxer hunting for the worthiest combatant in the galaxy? It would dwarf Mayweather – McGregor if so.
6. The glowing, green Predator blood was a mixture of glow stick filling and KY jelly
Which, at the very least, provides an interesting option for future lubrication needs. Also can provide evidence if you want to convince people that there really is a Predator in the toilets if you go on a night out.
7. Hawkins – played by Shane Black – was the screenwriter for Lethal Weapon and was hired just in case any rewrites were required
Ever notice that Hawkins is somewhat less ripped than his other squad members?
Enough muscle-shaming – Shane Black is also directing next year’s follow up The Predator. Lets hope its anywhere near as good as the original, and better than his character’s jokes.
Incidentally, Black wasn’t keen on doing any writing work once hired – he was there to act. Unimpressed, Producer John Davis had him killed off first.
On the film, like.
8. The film’s cast is inspired by the characters in the comic “Sgt. Rock” – and Hawkins can be seen reading a copy in the final credits
9. Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally cast as The Predator
But he jibbed it really quick because the suit was apparently “too hot”. Plus, you would have had the Predator being a clear foot smaller than Arnie. So, you know. Needs must.
NB – NOT EVEN JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME WAS SOLID ENOUGH FOR THIS FILM
10. The original Predator suit was off its head
Not only was the suit too hot and restrictive for Jean-Claude, but the original iteration was also hilarious. Originally intended to be more of a large grasshopper, in order to have the iconic cloaking effect added on effectively in post production the suit needed to be the opposite colour of the lush green of the jungle setting – a resplendent red. This means that when filming, the Predator would resemble something like a sunburnt Donald Duck. Don’t take my word for it, though – check out this bad boy. Its so worth it.
11. The original film just had Schwarzenegger – alone – squaring up with The Predator
Which still sounds pretty awesome. Like an epic playground fight.
12. The actor who played Billy – Sonny Landham – was required to have a bodyguard with him at all times when on set
Not to protect him from anyone – oh no. To protect everyone else from him.
NB – on the most macho movie set ever assembled – too hardcore even for Van Damme – Sonny Landham had to have a personal bodyguard from having everyone else off
13. The film originally had the lead to be a Native American SpecOps operative – which eventually morphed into the character of Billy
No wonder Sonny was an arl arse.
14. Arnie chain smoked huge cigars during filming
I’m not advocating smoking as big – nor indeed clever – but this is something of a feat considering he was basically bombing it up and down a Mexican jungle all day for weeks on end.
15. This in turn lead Carl Weathers to take up smoking
Peer pressure that, mate.
16. While filming was a nightmare for the rest of the cast, Jesse “The Body Ventura” thought it was a piece of piss
Undoubtedly in a fit of machismo, Jesse Ventura referenced his time in the US Navy’s Demolition Team in the 70s as to why brutal swings in temperature in a hostile jungle didn’t phase him. Perhaps it really was that chewing tobacco making him a sexual Tyrannosaurus.
17. Arnie completely had off Jesse Ventura in possibly the manliest prank ever conceived in the history of humanity
So the story goes that when wardrobe were measuring up Jesse, they informed him that his biceps were actually an inch bigger than former Mr Universe Arnie. Made up, and already with the requisite knowledge in the bank, Ventura offered a bicep challenge to Arnie – whoever had the largest would receive a bottle of champagne from the punier.
The Austrian Oak naturally accepted, and the resulting tale of the tape told that Arnie’s muscles were actually bigger. Schwarzenegger had planned the whole thing, and had told wardrobe to fib to Ventura. This story is so macho I think I have become 1% manlier just typing it out.
18. The GE134 minigun – “Old Painless” – Jesse Ventura mows down half of the jungle with is actually intended to be mounted on a helicopter due to its weight.
NB – Normal guns are literally not badass enough for Jesse The Body. When filming the firing of the gun, even though blanks were naturally used, other cast members were required to be a minimum of 50 feet away due to the sheer rate of fire.
NB – the minigun is so badass, even when firing blanks people had to hide from a considerable distance. Ventura just stood there firing it.
19. Both Schwarzenegger and Ventura were later voted in as US State Governors
We can only assume from this fact that the film is literally so good it propelled political careers.
20. The mud Arnie slathers on himself to disguise his body heat from The Predator’s hi-tech Snapchat filters wouldn’t have actually worked “in real life”
Because the mud would just heat up from your body. Apparently, this was proved on an episode of Mythbusters. We can extrapolate two things from this –
i) That was a real slow week for Mythbusters
ii) Arnold Schwarzenegger can literally transcend physics
21. The location wasn’t the only issue – most of the cast developed diarrhea and dehydration from contaminated water and food
If you watch the film very closely (or around 500 times over a period of 25 years), you’ll notice Schwarzenegger actually loses weight throughout the film. In a grim reverse echo of Kevin Costner’s progressive ballooning in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
22. Schwarzenegger actually slimmed down for the movie before shooting
Because maybe a pure bodybuilder wouldn’t necessarily be the most covert operative in a hostile held jungle. Still, though
23. Van Damme’s replacement to play The Predator – the 7’2” Kevin Peter Hall – pilots the escape helicopter at the end
A twist of the knife for Jean-Claude who thought there would be no unmasked screen time, perhaps.
24. Hall also played the Big Foot in Harry and the Hendersons
Quite the CV
25. In order to be as pumped for the day’s shooting as possible, the cast would wake up super early and hit the gym at 4am
No wonder that Predator got had off in the end
26. The now ubiquitous monstrous face of The Predator was actually suggested by none other than James Cameron
Stan Winston – fresh from his unbelievable work on The Terminator – was given the job of redesigning the weird red duck thing The Predator was originally imagined as decided to consult Cameron on the project whilst sharing a flight during the production of Aliens. Cameron suggested that he always wanted to see a creature with mandibles. And there we have it – The Predator. As an aside, James Cameron is also the guy who dreamed The Terminator up when homeless in Italy, so he’s got a good track record.
So to be clear on James Cameron –
27. Kevin Peter Hall couldn’t see out of the Predator suit once on, and accidentally full on slapped Arnie during the end fight scene
At least that’s his story.
28. The Predator is voiced by Peter Cullen – who also voiced Optimus Prime
The duality of man.
29. The US Department of Defence tested a fibre optic “mirror” suit to produce a similar effect as the cloaking device of The Predator.
THIS IS TOO AWESOME A FACT. I suppose we’ll never know if the tests were successful or not.
*looks over shoulder*
30. The Mexican jungle which was used for filming is deciduous – meaning that half way through filming all the leaves fell off
And so tons of fake leaves had to be manually added onto the location. Which surely must be one of the biggest stunners in cinematic history.