Predator 1987 – The Backstory is just as Interesting

  • Directed by John McTiernan
  • Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Sonny Landham

Let’s be honest…

this is an awesome movie and a standard review just wouldn’t cut it. So I’d like to try something different. I’ve been reading about the Predator 1987 backstory — which is actually an interesting story.

During the release of Rocky IV (1985) — the one where Rocky fights Ivan Draco, people were joking around that Rocky would have to fight an alien in his next movie since he had beaten everyone on earth. This joke planted the seed for Predator. A screenplay was written under the name of “Hunter” and Joel Silver expressed interest in it. If you don’t know, Joel Silver is the guy who produced the Lethal Weapon, Commando, and Matrix series. Legend says, he was also parodied as Lesley Grossman (played by Tom Cruise) in Tropic Thunder (2008).

Afterwards, McTiernan joined as the director, much to the mild approval of Silver and Schwarzenegger. In his memoir “Total Recall,” Schwarzenegger stated:

producers Joel Silver, Larry Gordon, John Davis, and I took a big risk in picking John McTiernan to direct. He had done only one movie, a low-budget horror film called Nomads about some people who drive around in a van and create mayhem. What set it apart was the tension McTiernan maintained in a film that cost less than $1 million to make. We felt that if he could create that kind of atmosphere with so little money, he must be very talented (335).



The risk paid off…

considering that Predator was a box office hit. With the rest of the crew and cast in their respective roles, there’s one loose thread. Jean Claude-Van Damme was originally cast as the predator. They needed someone who was agile and athletic to play the predator and as the ultimate action star, Van Damme seemed like the likely choice. Despite initial optimism, things fell through with Van Damme. Schwarzenegger noted:

Also, Jean-Claude Van Damme, who was playing the predator, was a relentless complainer. We kept trying to work around the problem (355).

In defense of Van Damme, the creature suit was incredibly hot and heavy. Therefore, Van Damme left the project. With Kevin Peter Hall replacing Van Damme as the predator, he faced similar problems. Schwarzenegger noted:

He (Kevin) had to look agile, but the costume was heavy and off balance, and with the mask on, he couldn’t see” (355).

Despite these challenges, Hall persevered and we get the amazing Predator sequences on film.

As one might expect…

shooting in the jungle is difficult. If you remember the most epic scene in Predator when Dutch faces the Predator. The “mud” that Schwarzenegger covers himself in… is actually pottery clay — the same stuff that keeps bottles of wine chill in restaurants. One can only imagine how cold Schwarzenegger might have felt when he had to film those scenes.

Nevertheless, Predator was successful at the box office in 1987 and grossed approximately 100 million. Critics at Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic were mostly positive, reaching a 78% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


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