Director – John McTiernan
Cast – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrio, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, Richard Chavez, R. G. Armstrong, Shane Black, Kevin Peter Hall
Release Year – 1987
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I can honestly say that monster/creature/alien films are my favorite horror films simply because of the impact they had on me as a child and as I was growing up. Thanks to the popularity and success of the Alien and Predator franchises, I was not only scared out of my mind when the films played on television, but I also had no trouble finding the “Alien” and “Predator” action figures at stores. Already a household name thanks to his films “Conan the Barbarian”, “The Terminator”, and “Commando”, Arnold “GET IN THA CHOPPA!“ Schwarzenegger brought his classic one-liners and 5 time Mr. Universe and 7 time Mr. Olympia winning body to the horror genre and gave us one of the most memorable and respected creature films of all time.
This film follows Dutch(Arnold Schwarzenegger) as he leads his team of special forces operatives on a rescue mission to the jungles of Central America. The objective is to bring back a Cabinet Minister and his men who’s chopper was shot down over the jungle. Due to the politics involved, a CIA agent and old friend of Dutch’s named Dillon(Carl Weathers) accompanies the operatives on the mission and he himself plans on getting revenge on the supposed guerillas who shot down the chopper. Unfortunately for Dutch and his team, their troubles only begin after they take out the guerillas and leave themselves with an enemy much harder to kill…and harder to see. This virtually invisible “predator” is out to kill for the fun of it; stalking it’s prey, brutally killing it, and keeping “trophies” to savor the experience.
I really dig the plot of this film and how it turns the “hunters” into the “hunted”. I know we see this from time to time involving wild animals hunting down people, but with this film we get a very sophisticated hunter capable of invisibility and relying on heat vision to locate it’s targets. The fact that this truly seems like a game to the “predator” intrigues me and is quite horrific if you think about it. The reasoning behind these actions and why the “predator” was sent to Earth is never explained in the film and I really dig that. It only adds to the creepiness. Although 17 years later the pseudo-sequel “Alien vs. Predator” explained why the predators are sent to Earth. Interesting stuff.
The intricate jungle atmosphere is perfect for this type of “cat and mouse” game and is a big reason why the soldiers were at a disadvantage and never got a good look at what was killing them off. The creature’s partial invisibility was key to it’s survival because why on earth would the soldiers be looking for an invisible opponent? It sure would have helped them, but in their situation it would not have been probable to think that. They wasted their time thinking it was a group of highly trained guerillas killing them off and never thought to look up into the trees at the sadistic hunter savoring his next kill.
The first half of the film comes off as an action flick. Aside from a few skinned bodies being found hung upside down and some POV shots from the creature’s heat vision we get no strong elements of horror and instead witness lots of gunfire and explosions, which I of course enjoyed. Hehe. This was no surprise to me given director John McTiernan obviously favors action in his films. After “Predator”(his second film) he went on to direct “Die Hard”, “The Hunt for Red October”, “Last Action Hero”, and “Die Hard: With A Vengeance”, get what I’m saying? The second half of the film is where the “predator” action kicks in although much of the action is his pseudo-invisible self with short blips where it wears off and we get glances at his true identity. Freaky stuff! The gore in this film is pretty sweet for a big time feature film. We get some severed arms, guts laying about, bullet riddled bodies, skinned bodies, and even a sweet scene of the predator ripping out a person’s spine and skull from their body. :huge smile: “Predator” also marks the acting career of former professional wrestler, Navy SEAL, and former Minnesota Governor Jesse “The Body” Ventura. I personally wished we would have seen more of him in this film, but I guess his non-acting experience(although being a professional wrestler…he should already be a pro at acting right?) limited his screen time.
Now onto the main characters of the film…the OTHER actor that went on to become a Governor(Schwarzenegger) and the focus of the film…“Predator“. I felt that Arnold did a pretty good job with this role and contrasted the “Predator” character pretty well. Arnold of course plays…well…“Arnold” but still, I enjoyed him in this. As you can imagine…there is an epic final battle between the two at the climax of the film. Arnold is still in top shape and pretty big, which plays well with his final battle with the creature given the creature himself is pretty big too. How big? Well…the actor who plays the creature(the late Kevin Peter Hall) is 7 feet 2 inches! The overall look of the “predator” with his mask and body ornaments is freakin awesome and very original. My favorite and what I feel to be the BEST scene in this film is when we finally see the “predator” take off his mask and go one on one with Arnold‘s character. As if the “predator” didn’t look scary enough he sure as heck got scarier with his mask off.
There is really nothing I really did not enjoy about this film and my only knock against it would have to be the pacing. It takes quite a while to get to the “Predator” carnage and even when the creature gets on screen I felt we didn’t see enough of it. I will admit that the creature being kept from us so much helped build up the epicness of the final battle but I feel this film in it’s entirety would have benefited from more creature action.
Overall, this is an excellent film and brings us one of the most well known creatures in the horror genre as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger in what is basically his only true horror film.