Predator (film)

Predator (film)

Infobox Film
name = Predator

image_size =
caption = Theatrical poster
director = John McTiernan
producer = Joel Silver
Lawrence Gordon
John Davis
writer = Jim Thomas
John Thomas
narrator =
starring = Arnold Schwarzenegger
Carl Weathers
Elpidia Carrillo
Bill Duke
Jesse Ventura
Kevin Peter Hall
music = Alan Silvestri
cinematography = Donald McAlpine
editing = Mark Helfrich
John F. Link
distributor = 20th Century Fox
released = June 12, 1987
runtime = 107 minutes
country = United States
language = English
budget = $18,000,000
gross = $60,000,000 (US)
preceded_by =
followed_by = "Predator 2"
website =
amg_id = 1:39013
imdb_id = 0093773

"Predator" is a 1987 science fiction, action and horror film directed by John McTiernan, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura, and Kevin Peter Hall. The story follows a US Army Special Forces Unit on a mission to rescue hostages from a guerilla terrorist group in Central America. Unknowingly, the group is hunted by an extraterrestrial lifeform. Reaction to the film was generally favorable, and the film grossed US$60 million in the United States. The film has generated a sequel, "Predator 2" (1990) and two crossover films with the Alien franchise: "Alien vs. Predator" (2004) and "" (2007).


The "Predator" film uses the story of the hunter being the hunted from "The Most Dangerous Game"-inspired stories. The Predator is an alien humanoid with advanced technology and a penchant for hunting difficult game. With interstellar travel capability, multi-spectrum vision enhancement (although the film only shows him seeing the infrared), and a light-bending armor suit with equally advanced weaponry, the Predator is able to travel anywhere, hunt anything, and usually succeed.

"Predator" is the first of the film series, as the creature descends on Earth interested in hunting exotic game - in this case humans. Information released after the film reveals the Predator scans the Earth's broadcast frequencies and chooses Central America as a location. A U.S. Special Forces unit is also en route to the same location, and during their operations stumble upon the Predator. The military unit possesses significant firepower, which attracts the creature's attention. During the film's final conflict, only one American is left and a cat-and-mouse game begins with each adversary hunting the other.


Opening with a mysterious spacecraft entering Earth's atmosphere, the film begins on the coast of Guatemala, where an Army Special Forces group, led by Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), is ordered to rescue a presidential cabinet minister kidnapped by guerrilla forces in Val Verde. Dutch's old Army buddy and now CIA agent, Major George Dillon (Carl Weathers), joins the team and they travel by helicopter to their destination within the jungle.

Once inserted, the team find the remains of a downed helicopter and later the bodies of several skinned men. They are identified to be a Green Beret unit, whose presence in the country mystifies Dutch. They soon make their way to a heavily defended rebel encampment and take out its inhabitants in short order, save for a girl named Anna (Elpidia Carrillo), whom they take prisoner. Dutch is enraged to discover the rescue mission had been a set up to get his group to destroy the camp, after the previous team - the dead men they found earlier - disappeared in a failed rescue of two CIA agents belonging to Dillon. Dutch extracts this information from him, who confesses that he was using him all along.

As the soldiers make their way to the extraction point, they are observed from afar by an unknown creature, who uses infrared imaging to spy. Once members of the team are killed mysteriously, they become aware that something in the jungle is stalking them, whose presence is confirmed by eerie sightings of a cloaked figure. Anna delivers insight into the creature, who has apparently become a local legend for hunting humans as trophies. Despite attempts to track down the creature, the team is slowly killed off one by one, until only Dutch and Anna remain. Realizing the creature only kills those possessing weapons, a wounded Dutch sends Anna unarmed to the extraction point. Dutch narrowly escapes the creature—revealed to be a masked, humanoid-reptilian being—by unintentionally covering himself in mud, which hides his body's heat signature, rendering him invisible to the creature's thermal vision.

Dutch confronts the creature one last time, using the mud as camouflage and a number of improvised weapons and traps to kill it. The creature arrives as planned, but despite having its cloaking ability disabled in an attack, it manages to capture Dutch. Then, in a display of chivalry, the creature challenges Dutch to a final duel in hand-to-hand combat, unveiling its face and discarding his electronic weaponry before brutally beating him. Once cornered, Dutch drops the counterweight from one of his traps, which falls and crushes the creature, mortally wounding it. As Dutch approaches the creature and asks it what it is, the creature mimics his question and then activates a time bomb on his wrist device. Dutch runs for cover as the creature self-destructs, and a massive explosion ignites the jungle. Anna and the rescue helicopter finally arrive to pick up a disheveled but victorious Dutch. Flying back to safety, he stares out at the jungle in mournful silence.



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".cite news | last = Haufrect | first = Ian T | coauthors = | title = If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It | work = | pages = | language = | publisher = 20th Century Fox | date = 2001 | url = | accessdate = ] 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 the late Stan Winston. In defense of Jean-Claude Van Damme's alleged claims of the suit being "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 causing the project to shut down, McTiernan consulted Stan Winston. While on a plane ride to Fox studios along side Aliens director James Cameron, Winston sketched monster ideas, Cameron suggested he'd 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.

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 that he would not appear on camera without the suit in the film. Jesse Ventura's autobiographical book also alleges Van Damme intentionally injured a stunt man.cite news | last = Ventura | first = Jesse | coauthors = | title = I Ain't Got Time to Bleed: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom Up | work = | pages = | language = | publisher = Signet | date = June 12, 2000 | url = | accessdate = ] Van Damme was removed from the film and replaced by the late actor, and mime artist, Kevin Peter Hall. Hall, standing at an imposing 7 foot 2, had just finished work as a sasquatch in "Harry and the Hendersons". Controversy again surrounded the production as soon as Hall reportedly refused to trim his lengthy dreadlocks, infuriating director John McTiernan. Hall, a devout Rastafarian, remained adamant, fueling McTiernan's decision to portray Hall's dreadlocks as a fundamental aspect of the alien creature. Ornamental metal caps fused into rubber tubing were placed over the dreadlocks in order to confer a more "alien-like" look. [cite web|url=|title=Predator|publisher=Rotten Tomatoes|accessdate=2008-01-30]


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. [ [ Sonny Landham - Biography ] ]

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.cite news | last = Gire | first = Dan | coauthors = | title = Schwarzenegger on "Predator" | work = | pages = | language = | publisher = Cinefantastique | date = December 1987 | url = | accessdate = ] 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 suppose 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."cite news | last = Gire | first = Dan | coauthors = | title = "Predator": The Man in the Suit | work = | pages = | language = | publisher = Cinefantastique | date = December 1987 | url = | accessdate = ] 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.

pecial Effects

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.cite news | last = Robley | first = Les Paul | coauthors = | title = "Predator": Special Visual Effects | work = | pages = | language = | publisher = Cinefantastique | date = December 1987 | url = | accessdate = ] 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 take was then repeated without the actors using a 30% wider lens on the camera. When the two takes were combined optically, 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 chem-lite sticks used by campers. 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.


The soundtrack was composed by Alan Silvestri, who was coming off the huge success of "Back to the Future" in 1985. "Predator" was his first major action movie and the score is full of his now familiar genre characteristics: heavy horn blasts, staccato string rhythms, and undulating timpani rolls that highlight the action and suspense. Little Richard's song "Long Tall Sally" is featured in the helicopter en route to the jungle. Mac also recites a few lines from the song as he's chasing the Predator after it escapes from their booby trap.


*Arnold Schwarzenegger as Maj. Alan "Dutch" Schaefer
*Carl Weathers as Maj. George Dillon
*Elpidia Carrillo as Anna
*Bill Duke as Sgt. Mac Eliot
*Jesse Ventura as Sgt. Blain Cooper
*Sonny Landham as Lt.. Billy Sole
*Richard Chaves as Lt.. Jorge "Poncho" Ramirez
*Shane Black as Sgt.. Rick Hawkins
*R. G. Armstrong as General Phillips
*Kevin Peter Hall as The Predator and end scene helicopter pilot
*Edward J. Sisto as end scene helicopter co-pilot
*Sven-Ole Thorsen as Russian Officer


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. [cite web|url=|title=1987 DOMESTIC GROSSES|publisher=Box Office Mojo|accessdate=2008-01-30] Critical reaction to the film was generally favorable, with reviewers crediting McTiernan for its breathtaking pace and nonstop action and Schwarzenegger for delivering a fine performance.Fact|date=April 2008 However, not everyone was able to follow the concept behind the movie. Roger Ebert, while giving it a positive review, still complained in his column for the "cite web">url=|title=Predator|date=1987-06-12|author=Roger Ebert|Ebert, Roger|accessdate=2008-01-30|publisher=Chicago Sun-Times] Dean Lamanna wrote in Cinefantastique that "the militarized monster movie tires under its own derivative weight." [cite journal|last=Lamanna|first=Dean|title=‘Predator’: Scoring the hunt|publisher=Cinefantastique|issue=18/1|year=1987|pages=36] The film grossed nearly $60 million in the U.S. and $100 million at the worldwide box office. [cite web|url=|title=Predator (1987)|publisher=Box Office Mojo|accessdate=2008-01-30]

In 2007, "Entertainment Weekly" named it the #22 greatest action movie of all time. [cite web|url=,,20041669_20041686_20042607_4,00.html|title=The 25 Greatest Action Films Ever!|publisher="Entertainment Weekly"|last=Bernardin|first=Mac|accessdate=2008-01-30] The film scores a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes. [cite web|url=|title=Predator|publisher=Rotten Tomatoes|accessdate=2008-01-30]


External links

*imdb title|id=0093773|title=Predator
*mojo title|id=predator|title=Predator

Box Office Leaders USA
before = Beverly Hills Cop II
date = June 14
year = 1987
after = The Witches of Eastwick

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