Why the 1980s Predator Movie is Pure Sci-fi Perfection

“Get to the chopper!”

Although I consider myself quite a film buff, there is only a handful of films that I could consider as pure perfection, but this one… This one got it just right! What film am I talking about…? Predator.

It was made at a time when sci-fi and action movies were epic. Think The Terminator, Aliens and Robocop. All excellent sci-fi films.

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What’s it about?

Predator was released in 1987 and is a science fiction/action/horror film directed by John McTiernan who also made Die Hard and was written by brothers Jim and John Thomas. The movie stars everyone’s favourite action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger who is the leader of an elite special forces team which is on a mission to rescue hostages from guerrilla-held territory in Val Verde which is in Central America’s Northern Triangle. The late Kevin Peter Hall co-stars as the titular antagonist, a technologically advanced form of extra-terrestrial who stalks and hunts the team. Predator was written in 1985, under the working title of Hunter. Filming for the movie began in April 1986 and the creature effects were devised by Stan Winston.

Who’s in It?

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl ‘Apollo Creed’ Weathers, ex-WWE wrestler Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura, Shane Black who directed the new inferior ‘The Predator’ movie, Bill Dukes and Sonny Landham.

Inspiration for the film

After the success of Rocky IV, there was a joke circulating around Hollywood that Rocky Balboa had run out of opponents to fight on Earth and would have to fight an alien in Rocky V. The screenwriter brothers Jim and John Thomas took the inspiration from that joke and wrote the screenplay based on it.

What you may not know

Before we go any further you may not know that Mr. ‘Muscle from Brussels’ Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally cast as the predator. The original predator was supposed to use martial arts (yes really!) against Arnie and co. However, the choice was made to replace Van Damme as he didn’t seem imposing or threatening enough while being compared to the hulks of Schwarzenegger, Weathers, Landham and Ventura. JCVD also complained he had to wear a suit all the time which was too hot and causing him to pass out. Has was replaced by the much taller intimating Kevin Peter Hall wearing a much better suit.

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At the start

The move opens with a spacecraft flying near Earth and releases an object which enters the the atmosphere. What could this be?

Dutch and his team arrive

Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) arrives with his special forces team who have been tasked by their commander with rescuing an official held hostage by insurgents. They meet up with Dutch’s old army pal and CIA agent Dillon (Carl Weathers) who is assigned to supervise the team against Dutch’s objections. Dutch and Dillon greet each other with the Ultimate Action Movie Handshake* and show off their biceps!

* The Ultimate Action Movie Handshake was Arnie and Carl’s real life secret handshake. The handshake accomplishes two things – it helps both men test  each others strength and flex their muscles. Now it is the official handshake of all members of the Ultimate Action Movie Club.

The chopper ride

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This is where we meet our team of characters who are flying in a chopper to the drop point all to the sounds of ‘Long Tall Sally’ by Little Richard. Mac also recites a few lines from this song later in the movie when he’s chasing the predator after it escapes from their trap. I really like the darkness and red lighting inside the chopper and gives of a sense of danger that our heroes are going to be coming up against.

The joke

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Hawkins (Shane Black) proves he’s an annoying douche bag who tells shitty jokes usually about his girlfriend that nobody finds funny. He tells Billy (Sonny Landham) a joke about his girlfriends pussy, but he doesn’t get it. It’s okay though because he gets killed first but we have to wait another 15 mins or so and another joke or two beforehand!

That line

Blain (Jesse Ventura) * brags about his chewing tobacco making him a goddamn sexual tyrannosaurs (it doesn’t) and spits his tobacco on Dillon’s shoe. Dillon beckons Blain with his finger and utters the line “That’s a real nasty habit you got there”.

* Jesse Ventura actually lost a bet on set to Arnold and he had to swear to one day run for office. Which he did and became Governor of Minnesota. Arnie kind of felt bad about his friend having to sit in an office all day so decided to also run for office to make it even and he became Governor of California. There was a rumour that Arnie would run for President in the future with Ventura has the Vice President.

The missing rescue team

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Once they’ve safely landed they locate a wrecked chopper which is from the previous rescue team which Dillon forgot to mention he’d already sent but had gone missing. Then they make a terrifying discovery of the skinned bodies hanging upside down from the trees only to discover they are the remains from the missing rescue team led by Hopper who Dillon and Dutch both knew!

The Car Scene

The team finally arrive where the guerilla unit are hanging out. They have an old car running their generator and Dutch picks up the car packed with explosives and sends it running down the hill into the bad guys huts. Boom!

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All hell breaks loose and Blain gets hit. Poncho (Richard Chaves) informs a gung-ho Blain he’s bleedin’ and he replies ” I ain’t got time to bleed”. Poncho then fires a shell into the air and says “Have you got time to duck?” They both take cover while dirt rains down and Blain holds his hat and pulls a face like he’s in some kind of Laurel & Hardy Comedy! The explosion also makes guerilla soldiers go flying over the camera like a scene straight out of the A-Team.

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“You set us up!”

After all the bad guys have been slain Dutch confronts Dillon and he admits that the mission was a setup to retrieve intelligence from the captured operatives and that the dead military unit disappeared weeks earlier in a failed rescue.They do capture one of the guerilla unit, a woman named Anna who claims she doesn’t speak English.


There was already bad blood between Dillon and the crew so when Mac (Bill Dukes) with his evil starry eyes whispers to him “Over here, turn around” while brandishing a jungle knife he seems a bit apprehensive. Dillon spins back around to find Mac has stabbed a scorpion that was on his shoulder. Dillon thanks Mac and he utters the words “Anytime”. The Predator while observing this mimic Macs words.

Once again Hawkins tells Billy another joke about his girlfriends giant pussy and this time Billy gets it and lets out that memorable laugh that the predator mimics and uses later on.

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The predator finally makes an appearance, but from his viewpoint and in cool thermal vision he comes out of the trees and picks up the dead scorpion while reciting all the words Mac said and uses Billy’s laugh he had picked up earlier.

“You lose it here, you’re in a world of hurt.”

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While flirting with Poncho Anna whacks him with a big stick and runs off. Hawkins gives chase and gets ambushed by the predator. Finally no more shit jokes about his girlfriends pussy!

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Anna tells the team “The jungle came alive and took him” and admits she speaks English after all. While the rest of the team are searching for Hawkins, Blain is brutally slain by the predators plasma weapon.

Mac goes ‘loco

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Mac gets a glimpse of the predator in the trees covered in his amazing cloaking device and after seeing his best pal has now got a big huge hole where his chest used to be grabs Blains awesome gatling gun and goes mental crazy. He shoots up the jungle and the rest of the team join in. They hit nothing, but discover bright green luminous blood which they assume is blood.

What’s got Billy all spooked?

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Dutch confronts Billy the ace tracker because he seems spooked and senses that something isn’t right because usually he’s chill AF. He tells the team whatever is out there isn’t human, but Dillon being the guy he is says it’s just more guerillas.

The trap

The team makes camp for the night, setting traps in all directions. Mac drinks a toast with a dead Blain who’s all snug in his body bag!

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The traps go off in the night and we can hear squealing has Mac attacks what’s triggered the traps. It’s just a warthog. The rest of the team have a laugh at Mac’s expense, but then notice Blain’s body has now gone missing too. We cut to the predator polishing his new trophy skulls.

Another bigger trap

The next day after the team realise whatever it is that’s killing them off is using the trees they set another trap involving a giant log like something Wile E. Coyote would have built. Dillon delivers the classic line “What next? Cheese?” He’s a funny guy! The trap gets triggered again but instead of catching the alien it crashes into and injures poor old Poncho.

“I see you”

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While pursuing the creature Mac spots the alien hanging around in a tree and shows Dillon who finally admits that it’s a goddamn evil alien killing machine and not some 2-bit insurgents that’s hunting them. Unfortunately they are being watched all this time and the creature kills Mac and shoots Dillon’s arm off that still continues to fire his gun while unattached. The alien then runs around Dillon and kills him too.

No more Billy

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The creature catches up with the rest of the team but Billy being the hard bastard he is has decided enough is enough and wants to fight the beast one on one on a log bridge in unarmed combat. He drops his guns and cuts a line down his chest with his combat knife. He instantly fails and you can here him scream in the distance. The predator then kills Poncho and injures Dutch. Anna goes to pick up the gun, but Dutch has realised that creature is only hunting them because they have weapons and kicks the gun away and utters the famous lines of…

“Run! …Go! Get to the chopper!”

Anna flees to the extraction point and the creature pursues Dutch over a cliff and into a river where it’s cloaking device malfunctions. This is the first time we actually see our enemy and “hey, they look like dreadlocks” instantly come to mind.

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You’d think something that high-tech that is used in combat would be waterproof. Dutch drags himself out of the river and is covered in mud and the creatures thermal vision can not detect him and decides to fuck off. Now Dutch knows he can use mud as camouflage.

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Now we are treated to a montage of Dutch building an elaborate trap and a bow and arrow. While Dutch is doing this the predator has a lot of spare time so he just makes more trophies out of all the bodies he collected today. Once Dutch has finished he then lures the beast with a fire and war cry.

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“You’re one ugly motherf**ker”

Covered in mud Dutch fires explosive tipped arrows at the creature and wrecks his cloaking device, but then becomes cornered. The predator realises that Dutch is a worthy foe after all and discards his weapons and takes off his face mask to reveal his face which is a face only a mother could love.

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They scrap it out in hand-to-hand combat and Dutch is out of his league. He crawls and gets cornered in a trap he’d made earlier. The predator realises it’s yet another bloody trap and is not falling for it again and walks around the other way. Luckily for Dutch he has all bases covered and he uses the traps counterweight to crush the creature with a falling log. Take that sucker!

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As the poor predator lies dying Dutch rubs salt in his wounds by asking “What the hell are you?” which the creature mimics and then being a sore loser he is decides that if I’m going out I’m taking all you bastards with me and activates his self destruct device countdown. He laughs maniacally using Billy’s laugh he’d ripped off earlier. Dutch takes covers and then there is a huge explosion. We see a cheap looking mushroom cloud and then a chopper comes down and rescues Dutch. In the helicopter we see the commander, Anna and Kevin Peter Hall again but this time playing one of the pilots.

The end… cue a disappointing sequel with no Arnie, two spin-offs and two more crappy sequels that also don’t feature Arnie!

Written by Jay

A caffeine-based life form with a love of the 80s and pop culture.


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