Predator (film)

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Predator Movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John McTiernan
Produced by
Written by
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Donald McAlpine
Edited by
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • June 12, 1987 (1987-06-12)
Running time
107 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15–18 million[2][3]
Box office $98.3 million[2][3]

Predator is a 1987 American science fiction action film directed by John McTiernan and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as the leader of an elite special forces team, who are on a mission to rescue hostages from guerrilla territory in Central America. Kevin Peter Hall co-stars as the titular antagonist, a technologically advanced form of extraterrestrial life secretly stalking and hunting the group. Predator was written by Jim and John Thomas in 1985, under the working title of Hunter. Filming began in April 1986 and creature effects were devised by Stan Winston.

The film's budget was around $15 million. Released in the United States on June 12, 1987, it grossed $98,267,558. Initial critical reaction to Predator was negative, with criticism focusing on the thin plot. However, in subsequent years critics' attitudes toward the film warmed, and it has appeared on a number of "best of" lists. Two sequels, Predator 2 (1990) and Predators (2010), as well as two crossover films with the Alien franchise, Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), have been produced. Another entry in the series directed by Shane Black is in the works at 20th Century Fox.


The main cast of Predator. Left to right: Ventura, Black, Schwarzenegger, Duke, Weathers, Landham, and Chaves.

Delta Force Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer and his six-man team, consisting of himself, operators Mac Eliot, Billy Sole, and Blain Cooper, ordnance expert Jorge "Poncho" Ramírez and radioman Rick Hawkins, are tasked by the CIA with spearheading the rescue of an official held hostage by insurgents in Val Verde. Agent George Dillon, an old friend of Schaefer's, is assigned to supervise. The team is taken to a remote jungle and begins the mission.

They soon discover the wreckage of another chopper and several skinned corpses, whom Schaefer identifies as U.S Army Special Forces he once trained. Pressing on, the team reaches the insurgent camp and kills every guerrilla, including a Soviet intelligence officer searching through top-secret CIA documents. Dillon, confronted by a suspicious Schaefer, admits the mission was a setup to retrieve intelligence from captured operatives and that the dead unit disappeared weeks earlier in a failed rescue. Holding prisoner a captured female guerrilla named Anna, the group proceeds to extraction, unaware that they are being observed by an invisible entity using thermal imaging.

Hawkins chases a fleeing Anna when they are both suddenly confronted by the creature. The unarmed Anna is spared, but Hawkins is swiftly killed and dragged away. Schaefer organizes a manhunt for the killer, during which Cooper is killed with a plasma weapon. An ensuing firefight fails to draw out the creature, so the unit regroups and questions Anna, learning that their stalker is an unknown creature who has been killing humans for sport for decades, active only in the hottest years. An attempt to entrap the creature fails, leaving Poncho badly wounded. Mac and Dillon attempt pursuit, but Mac is ambushed by the Predator and killed by its plasma cannon. Dillon sees it in the trees and shoots wildly, but the Predator returns fire and takes off his arm. It then impales him with a set of blades on its forearm.

The survivors try to escape, but the Predator catches up, killing Billy, who had sought to challenge it directly, blasting the injured Poncho in the head, and wounding Schaefer. Realizing the creature targets only hostile prey, Schaefer sends Anna to the chopper alone and unarmed. He then jumps off a waterfall and crawls through a patch of mud only to end up next to the Predator. The Predator, though standing a few feet from Schaefer, does not see him. This helps him realize that the mud he is now covered in is acting as camouflage by cooling his skin and blocking his body's heat signature from the Predator's thermal sensor. Now seeking to avenge his men, Dutch uses his knowledge of jungle warfare to craft a series of traps. Covered in mud and armed with improvised weapons, he lures the Predator with a war cry.

Utilizing his preparations, Dutch beats the Predator at its own game, disabling its cloaking device and inflicting minor injuries. Nevertheless, the Predator finally corners him. Acknowledging Schaefer as a worthy foe, the Predator discards its equipment and challenges him to hand-to-hand combat, where it still has the advantage. After being brutally beaten, Dutch narrowly defeats the creature by using a counterweight to crush it. He asks the dying Predator what it is, but the alien merely repeats his question back to him before activating a self-destruct device on its left wrist, playing back a sinister recording of Billy's laughter as Dutch flees. Dutch takes cover just before the self-destruct device explodes in a mushroom cloud, damaging the electronics of the rescue helicopter. Dutch, the last man standing, is picked up shortly afterwards by his commander, General Phillips, and finds Anna in the helicopter.




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 inspiration from the joke and wrote a screenplay based on it. The Thomas script for Predator was originally titled Hunter.[4] It was picked up by 20th Century Fox in 1985, and turned over to producer Joel Silver who, based on his experience with Commando, decided to turn the 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. New Zealand director Geoff Murphy was also considered to direct.[5]

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 Stan Winston. The original monster was a disproportionate, ungainly creature[6] with large yellow eyes and a dog-like head, and it was nowhere near as agile as later portrayed. McTiernan consulted Winston after production became troubled. While on a plane ride to Fox studios alongside Aliens director James Cameron, Winston sketched monster ideas. Cameron suggested he had always wanted to see a creature with mandibles, which became part of the Predator's iconic look.


Kevin Peter Hall as the Predator

Silver and Gordon first approached Arnold Schwarzenegger with the lead role. To play the elite band of soldiers, both Silver and Gordon, with co-producer John Davis, searched 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 writer Shane Black, whose first screenplay had become Silver's blockbuster Lethal Weapon a few months earlier, Silver hired Black to play a supporting role in the film, which also allowed him to watch McTiernan direct.[4]

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.[4] 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 regarding the fact he would not be appearing on camera without the suit. Van Damme was removed from the film and replaced by Kevin Peter Hall.[4]


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 only three days 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.[4] Schwarzenegger's weight loss was a professional choice. McTiernan lost the weight because he avoided the food in Mexico due to health concerns.[4] Unlike McTiernan, most of the cast and crew suffered from traveler's diarrhea since the Mexican hotel in which they were living was having problems with the water purification.[7] 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.[4]

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.[8] 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."[8] 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 supposed to slap me around and stay far from my face, all of a sudden, whap! There is this hand with claws on it!"[8] Hall stated in an interview that his experience on the film, "wasn't a movie, it was a survival story for all of us."[9] For example, in the scene where the Predator chases Dutch, the water was foul, stagnant and full of leeches.[9] 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.[9]

The film was dedicated to the memories of Agustin Ytuarte and Federico Ysunza, who were both killed on March 31, 1986, in the crash of Mexicana Flight 940.

Special effects[edit]

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.[10] 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 red was removed with chroma key techniques, leaving an empty area. The take was then repeated without the actors using a 30% wider lens on the camera. When the two takes were combined optically, the jungle from the second take filled in the empty area. Because the second take was filmed with a wider lens, a vague outline of the alien could be seen with the background scenery bending around its shape.[10] 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.[10] The glowing blood was achieved by green liquid from glow sticks used by campers and mixed with personal lubricant for texture.[10] 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.[10] Additional visual effects, mainly for the opening title sequence of the Predator arriving on Earth, were supplied by Dream Quest Images (later Oscar-winners for their work on The Abyss and Total Recall). The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Visual Effects.[11]

On the extras on the DVD some alternative endings can be found. Since the jungle was destroyed in the explosion at the end of the original film, these alternative endings were filmed in Ardgillan Castle and Demesne in Balbriggan Co. Dublin, Ireland. Sound effects for tropical birds were preformed by local lad Martin Costigan.


Predator Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Alan Silvestri
Released August 19, 2003
Genre Orchestral
Film score
Length 73:08
Label Varèse Sarabande

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. Silvestri returned for the sequel, making him the only composer to have scored more than one film in either the Alien or Predator series.

In 2003, Varèse Sarabande released the soundtrack album as part of its limited release CD Club collection; the album also includes the Elliot Goldenthal arrangement of the Fox fanfare used on Alien 3.

  1. "Twentieth Century Fox Fanfare" (Alfred Newman; arrangement by Elliot Goldenthal, 1992) (0:27)
  2. "Main Title" (3:51)
  3. "Something Else" (3:34)
  4. "Cut 'Em Down" (1:56)
  5. "Payback Time" (2:09)
  6. "The Truck" (4:22)
  7. "Jungle Trek" (1:47)
  8. "The Girl's Escape" (6:00)
  9. "Blain's Death" (2:47)
  10. "He's My Friend" (1:26)
  11. "We're All Gonna Die" (3:32)
  12. "Building a Trap" (3:02)
  13. "The Waiting" (3:27)
  14. "The Hunt Is On" (4:51)
  15. "Dillon Is Disarmed" (2:07)
  16. "Billy Stands Alone" (2:34)
  17. "Battle Plans" (9:24)
  18. "Wounded Predator" (4:14)
  19. "Hand to Hand Combat" (3:12)
  20. "Predator's Big Finish" (3:42)
  21. "The Rescue and End Credits" (4:44)

In 2010, the same year Predators featured an adaptation of Silvestri's score by John Debney, Intrada Records released the album in a 3000-copy limited edition with remastered sound, many cues combined and renamed, and most notably (as with Intrada's release of Basil Poledouris's score for RoboCop) presenting the original end credits music as recorded (the film versions are differently mixed). This release is notable for having sold out within a day.[12]

  1. "Fox Logo" (Alfred Newman; arranged by Elliot Goldenthal, 1992) (0:26)
  2. "Main Title" (3:52)
  3. "Something Else; Cut 'Em Down; Payback Time" (7:37)
  4. "The Truck" (4:23)
  5. "Jungle Trek" (1:48)
  6. "Girl's Escape; Blain's Death" (6:40)
  7. "What Happened?" (2:01)
  8. "He's My Friend" (1:26)
  9. "We're Gonna Die" (3:29)
  10. "Building the Trap" (3:06)
  11. "The Waiting" (3:27)
  12. "Can You See Him?" (4:52)
  13. "Dillon's Death" (2:05)
  14. "Billy and Predator" (2:32)
  15. "Dutch Builds Trap" (9:28)
  16. "Predator Injured; Hand to Hand Combat" (7:22)
  17. "Predator's Death" (3:43)
  18. "The Pick-Up and End Credits" (5:58)


Box office[edit]

Released on June 12, 1987, Predator was #1 at the US box office in its opening weekend with a gross of $12 million, which was second to only Beverly Hills Cop II for the calendar year 1987.[13] The film grossed $98,267,558, of which $59,735,548 was from the US & Canadian box office. $38,532,010 was made overseas.[14]

Critical response[edit]

Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film an average score of 36 based on 11 reviews from 1987, with the review opinions summarized as "generally unfavorable".[15] Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times described it as "grisly and dull, with few surprises."[16] Dean Lamanna wrote in Cinefantastique that "the militarized monster movie tires under its own derivative weight."[17] Variety wrote that the film was a "slightly above-average actioner that tries to compensate for tissue-thin-plot with ever-more-grisly death sequences and impressive special effects."[18] Michael Wilmington of the Los Angeles Times proclaimed it "arguably one of the emptiest, feeblest, most derivative scripts ever made as a major studio movie."[19] Feminist Susan Faludi called it one of "an endless stream of war and action movies" in which "women are reduced to mute and incidental characters or banished altogether."[20] Though decrying a few plot holes, critic Roger Ebert was more complimentary of the film, rating it three out of four stars, and writing, "it supplies what it claims to supply: an effective action movie."[21]

Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 78% of 40 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 7/10.[22] The film has been a perennial cable favorite outside of America, in India and other countries.[23]


In subsequent years the film's critical reaction has been more positive and as a result Predator has appeared on a number of "best of" lists. In 2001, it was one of 400 films nominated for the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Thrills list, though it did not place in the top 100.[24] In 2003, the Predator creature was one of 400 characters nominated for AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains.[25] In 2007, C. Robert Cargill of ranked Predator as the seventh best film of 1987, calling it "one of the great science fiction horror films, often imitated, but never properly duplicated, not even by its own sequel."[26] Entertainment Weekly named it the 22nd greatest action movie of all time in 2007, and the 14th among "The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years" in 2009, saying "Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been as manly as he was in this alien-hunting testosterone-fest."[27][28] IGN proclaimed it the 13th greatest action movie of all time.[29] In 2008, Empire magazine ranked it 336th on their list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.[30] Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 78% "Fresh" rating based on 39 critical reviews and reports a ratings average of 7 out of 10.[31]

In 2013, NECA released action figure collectables of Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer and the Predator, marketed as "Jungle Hunter Dutch Schaefer", "Jungle Disguise Dutch Schaefer", "Jungle Extraction Dutch Schaefer", "Jungle Patrol Dutch Schaefer", "Jungle Hunter Predator", "Water Emergence Predator", and "Cloaked Classic Predator."[32]

In 2013 Predator was converted into 3D for Blu-ray release.[33]

In 2014, it was announced that a reboot of Predator was in development at 20th Century Fox and was set to be produced by John Davis. The film is expected to be written by Fred Dekker, with Shane Black writing a film treatment, as well as having the option to direct.[34] It was later specified by Black that the film will be a sequel to the previous Predator films.[35] In August 2015, Black was nearly finishing the script.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "PREDATOR". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Predator (1987)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 4, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Predator - Box Office Data, DVD and Blu-ray Sales, Movie News, Cast and Crew Information". The Numbers. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Haufrect, Ian T (2001). "If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It". 20th Century Fox. 
  5. ^ "Roy Murphy: Geoff Murphy interview". Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  6. ^ "When Jean-Claude Van Damme played Predator". Retrieved 2015-04-30. 
  7. ^ Don't Drink The Water. Predator Special Edition, Disk 2: 20th Century Fox Home Video. 2001. 
  8. ^ a b c Gire, Dan (December 1987). "Schwarzenegger on Predator". Cinefantastique. 
  9. ^ a b c Gire, Dan (December 1987). "Predator: The Man in the Suit". Cinefantastique. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Robley, Les Paul (December 1987). "Predator: Special Visual Effects". Cinefantastique. 
  11. ^ "Predator: Award Wins and Nominations". Retrieved July 18, 2010. 
  12. ^ Predator soundtrack review at
  13. ^ "1987 Domestic Grosses". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  14. ^ "Predator (1987)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  15. ^ "Predator". Metacritic. Retrieved July 18, 2010. 
  16. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (June 12, 1987). "The New York Times Review: Predator". The New York Times. p. C6. 
  17. ^ Lamanna, Dean (1987). "Predator: Scoring the hunt" (18/1). Cinefantastique. p. 36. 
  18. ^ "Predator Review". Variety. January 1, 1987. Retrieved May 4, 2009. 
  19. ^ Wilmington, Michael (June 12, 1987). "Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. p. 6. 
  20. ^ Susan Faludi, in Backlash, Chatto & Windus, 1992, p. 169
  21. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 12, 1987). "Predator". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 30, 2008. 
  22. ^ "Predator (1987)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Predator — a Shaman’s View". Mythology at the Movies (Yoginet India) 
  24. ^ "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills: America's Most Heart-Pounding Movies" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved July 18, 2010. 
  25. ^ "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved July 18, 2010. 
  26. ^ Cargill, C. Robert (August 2, 2007). "The 10 Best Movies of 1987". Retrieved April 23, 2010. 
  27. ^ Bernardin, Marc (June 18, 2007). "The 25 Greatest Action Films Ever!". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 30, 2008. 
  28. ^ Bernardin, Marc (January 30, 2009). "The Action 25 Films: The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 18, 2010. 
  29. ^ "The Top 25 Action Movies". IGN. 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2012. 
  30. ^ "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time". Empire. 2008. Retrieved July 18, 2010. 
  31. ^ "Predator Movie Reviews, Pictures". Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  32. ^ – 7″ Action Figure – Series 9 Asst (Case 14) NECA
  33. ^ "Predator on 3D Blu-ray comes loaded with awesome extras". Retrieved December 23, 2013. 
  34. ^ Kit, Borys (June 23, 2014). "Fox Rebooting 'Predator' With Shane Black (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  35. ^ Chitwood, Adam (June 25, 2014). "Exclusive: Shane Black Says His PREDATOR Film Is a Sequel, Not a Reboot". Collider. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Predator Sequel Still on Track with Shane Black, Script Nearly Complete". 

External links[edit]