No matter how many sequels, prequels or spin-offs are made with the character of the Predator, the first is by far the best. How could it not be with its fantastic science fiction score by Alan Silverstri, its instantly quotable one-liners (not to mention its awful but memorable jokes), its eye-popping action set-pieces and the sudden turn into the sci-fi genre midway through the film. Everything about this Arnie feature is pitch-perfect 80s cinema. Just look at the recent reboot/sequel which basically copied a large portion of this groundbreaking first film.
There are many reasons why Predator holds a special place in my heart. The main theme is my phone ring tone, and I have a large number of male friends who adore this film. Most of the time this would lead to heated discussions, one of which included my good friend from university chastising me for getting the main theme wrong (apparently I got my dun nah nahs mixed up). It seems that Predator, along with Commando, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard et al, are universally acknowledged as quintessentially ‘man’ films.
It really is hard not to love everything about this John McTiernan-directed feature. The level of violence and action is almost second to none (at least until McTiernan topped it the following year with Die Hard). Everything about its action sequences are so over the top and mind-blowingly explosive as to be considered instant classics.
We get some gloriously gory deaths in the form of exploding heads, exploding chest cavities and exploding arms. On top of that there are some the brilliant action scenes, such as the infamous ‘Gatling gun destroying half a forest’ and Arnie’s mano-a-alien fight with the predator at the end.
The first big action sequence, the assault on the guerilla troops by Arnie and his team (including Jesse Ventura and Lethal Weapon scriptwriter Shane Black), is so over the top and so fantastically violent that it comes closer to a Tex Avery cartoon than to reality. Ventura even churns out the first of the films classic lines with “Son of a bitch is dug in like an Alabama tick” from then on it gets even better. After the extensive firefight we get our first view of a stealthy hunter with its infra-red vision. This is certainly a high-concept film that plays its winning card close to its chest, as we don’t get a full view of the predator until at least half way through the main feature.
As the creature slowly picks off each of team in ever stealthier ways and Arnie falls off a waterfall (still an incredibly impressive stunt), we finally get to see the predator in all its Stan Winston-designed glory. The reptilian/human hybrid is certainly a sight to behold and is still as brilliant as it was over 20 years ago. Kevin Peter Hall, the actor inside the predator suit, elevates the predator from mere ‘man in a suit’ with his evocative movements and mannerisms.
Hall died just before the release of Predator 2, but he will be forever known as the first and best guy to have played the predator. Everything about his movements is eerie and otherworldly, be it his elongated fingers touching his keypad through to him cautiously surveying the area. Each movement is perfectly matched to the character and is by far one of the most important reasons for Predator being as well loved and respected as it is.
When the final confrontation takes place we have a back to basics character, in this case Arnie’s Dutch, preparing for war in a down and dirty survivalist way. Improvised traps are made and set, weapons fashioned by things lying around in the jungle and the stage is set for one of the action genre’s best climatic stand-offs. But we are all given one last surprise, the final full face revel of the predator. It has been said to look like a few things in the past (the more controversial of which I shall avoid listing here due to its explicitness), but we do get one the film’s most quotable lines of dialogue and again – like all his films, Arnie gets the best; “You’re one ugly …Motherfucker”.
Least I forget some of the other lines of utterly brilliant dialogue, including such gems as;
“Get to the chopper” (said in the way only Arnie can), the other classic Ventura line of “Ain’t got time to bleed”, the “If it bleeds, we can kill it” line and my two absolute favorites “Stick around” (after throwing a knife into a soldier) and “Knock, knock” after smashing down and door and shooting up the place. They really do not make them like they used to.
I shall leave you with one of the better and more memorable jokes from the film dear reader and it goes a little something like this; I was going down on my girlfriend the other night and “I said, jeez your pussy is big, jeez your pussy is big”. She said “why did I say it twice”, I said I didn’t!
I never said it was the best joke now did I, but it is one of the best action films of the 80s and will continue to be a firm favorite with myself (and countless other men) in the years to come. After all these years, this motherfucker is far from ugly and has aged really well.