‘PREDATOR!’ Retrospective Of The Classic Film And A Look At Some Of Its Original Designs

The Decade of alien parasites, killer cyborgs, and, oh yes, the Predator

It was the ‘80s, the magical decade of mother fucking HEAVY METAL culture. Iron Maiden, AC/DC, and Ronnie James Dio captivated our airwaves and MTV was in its infancy and proving to be nothing but pure A1 classic kick-ass amazement. Spike studs lined leather jackets and chains hung off jeans. Of course, us kids were running around in MOTU underwear and that was just as badass. It was a glorious time to be alive. 

And that Heavy Metal attitude penetrated all aspects of culture, but no medium was more impacted by this heavy cord-shredding phenomenal attitude (adjustment) than cinema. Hell, even My Little Pony movies were saturated with some heavy rock n roll. It wasn’t music for us. It was literally a way of life. One that remains with us over here at Nightmare Nostalgia. 

So it was no surprise when that same Metal attitude began popping up in our movies. And us hardcore kids knew that if the movie was rated R it meant absolute quality.  

So you could say there must have been something in the air, or it could have been all that cocaine executives sucked up their noses back then, but we could count on some imperially spectacular films! The time of hardcore inspiration was on and we rode it like it was a metal crunching dragon! We were lucky enough to grow up with AliensTerminator, and Robocop. They hit the theater big and they hit the audience hard like a fist punching through a wall.  

It was like a quick kick of roaring diesel to the mind that revved us up and made us kids a bunch of screaming monsters out on the playground. “Did you see Terminator? He cut his eye out in front of the mirror!” and so the schoolyards were filled with us describing each one of these movies to each other. I think we may have gotten a little spoiled and just expected every single ball blazing movie to be a mad rush of fury, fights, and ferocious suspense. 

But then among these high-octane sci-fi/horror fusions came a lethal creature from another world who sought to slay the most dangerous killers on planet Earth – that means us, my nasties. And I’m talking about none other than the Predator. If one single film could jump on top of your desk and kick your teeth in while expecting you to be grateful for it it’s this movie. 

If you like Aliens and Terminator you’re gonna love this guy!

It wasn’t enough that the film sported Arnold Schwarzenegger, who alone amassed an onslaught of loyal fans thanks to his movies (ConanTerminator 1 & 2, Total Recall), and whose name was a seal of pure excellence over any project he was involved in, but this time around Arnold was leading a secret team of the meanest, baddest, and toughest hombres imaginable deep into the humid labyrinths of the South American jungle to slaughter some sumbitch guerrilla forces. 

This team of ultra badasses showed the world what manliness was all about. The majority of these guys were built just like tanks and they tore through that jungle with the most orgasmic firepower this side of DOOM and proved right away they are not with whom you want to fuck! There’s no man on earth who could outsmart, outmaneuver, or outgun Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his team. The first part of the movie is a heavy metal ballad of heavy artillery and bullets shredding down guerrilla headquarters and no good bastards.  

It’s beautiful, but only because it sets up how indestructible these men are right before introducing the one thing that can make them run for their lives and cower down in the mud like children. 

This is a genius way to introduce your movie monster and speaks volumes to why people still love this creature. He alone slaughters, skins, and devastates the strongest men on the planet and he does so alone. Oh! And he does it for sport! 

Need I go on about the ultimate coolness of this beast from the stars? 

Using the trees as his advantage point, the Predator stalks Dutch and his team, systematically kills them one by one, and comes in silently to take away their dead comrades right from under their noses. 

His weapons include gauntlet blades, a shoulder cannon, and stealth technology that makes him practically invisible to the naked eye. He also has signature infrared vision making it nearly impossible to hide from him. He really is made to be the perfect killer. 

At its core, the film is a slasher horror film set in the sweltering heart of the jungle, which, if we’re being honest, jungles are fucking scary places on their own. So this is a one of a kind type of slasher movie and, as my nasties all know, I love slashers! I’ve even named a pet shark Slasher.

The look of death – designing the Predator

One major thing that stands out for any monster movie is how the creature looks, and, once again, Stan Winston brought life to another timeless creation.

Early Predator Design

However, it’s well-known by now that action star Jon Claude Van Dam was slated to play the part of the Predator. Some set pics are around showing off what he would have looked like too and… the original look had more in common with a big lobster bug than the monster we know today. 

Goddamn, I’m so happy someone on set looked at this thing and saw how stupid it looked. Someone just knew it was going to get laughed at and more money was poured into the budget to build a proper-looking intergalactic killing horror. 

Kevin Peter Hall (1955-1991) slipped on the monster suit and a whole new movie came to life.

Stan Winston (Aliens, Terminator, Jurassic Park) says he was on a flight and working out some of the designs for the Predator when James Cameron (Terminator 1,2, Aliens, Avatar) looked over to see his sketches. It was then that Cameron made the comment, “Know what I’ve always been interested in? Something with mandibles.” And so Winston quickly drew some mandibles over the creature’s mouth and they could not stop staring at it. Stan Winston knew he just discovered his newest movie monster. The Predator took on brand new life. 

And outside of the violence, I would say the main thing fans remember from the film is the Predator’s iconic look. Some didn’t even know that his true face was hidden under a very cool-looking mask. A mask that gets taken off in the final act as the last struggle comes down between the Predator and Dutch in a fistfight to the death. 

And I mean the Predator wipes the floor of the jungle with Dutch’s pretty face. 

It’s a nail-biter and packs a kick-you-in-the-nuts kind of intensity all the way to the nuclear blast of an ending. 

Predator is possibly more famous today than ever. What with the release of the new game, Predator: Hunting Grounds, on PS4, Steam, and Xbox, a renewed interest in the old and classic Dark Horse comics, and, one of my personal favorites, NECA’s ongoing toy releases.

Today I own at least a dozen different kinds of Predator figures thanks to them. NECA gives fans a new way to admire the classic monster by getting him into our hands where we can examine the details in his armor and features. Nothing short of pure art, folks, 

It remains one of the absolute best kind of creature feature flicks in film history today. One that is a must-watch and still holds up in 2021. Yes, it’s one of those voyages down the nostalgia river where metal, monsters, and mayhem thrive on from yesteryear.

It most certainly deserves a fresh re-watch.

Duu et. Duu et naow!!!

Images are thanks to Fox Studios, the Stan Winston school of special effects, Black Sabbath, and NECA

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