In 1987, one movie defied the genre conventions of the decade by being a perfect hybrid of action, horror, and science fiction. This movie, of course, was Predator, which was directed by John McTiernan.
Predator had all the staples of an action film from the era – machismo, firepower, and copious amounts of gore. Yet its subversion of expectations immediately grabbed viewers and gave them an unforgettable experience.
The buff, manly men who typically saved the day were now being savagely cut down one by one like a human hunting game.
The legendary Stan Winston crafted the titular hunter, which remains as one of the most imaginative and terrifying monsters ever put to film.
Predator 2 was released in 1990, and while it does not fully live up to its predecessor, the change in setting and tone still make for an interesting movie.
The year 2010 then saw the release of Predators, which was directed by Nimrod Antal and produced by Robert Rodriguez. This movie again drastically changed the formula by pitting a group of criminals against several Predators on an alien planet.
In addition to the sequels, there have been several spin offs, including books and comics, of varying degrees of quality.
With The Predator due out in theaters soon, it seems like an appropriate time to take a look back at the three main line Predator movies (Predator, Predator 2, and Predators) and see what went on behind the scenes.
Surprisingly enough, some of the stories from behind the camera end up being almost as entertaining as the films themselves.
So before you “Get to the choppa,” here are the 20 Crazy Details Behind The Making Of The Predator Movies.
20 The Mandibles Were Created Courtesy Of James Cameron
Stan Winston landed the gig designing the monster after Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended him based on his work in The Terminator.
That movie also birthed a friendship between Winston and iconic filmmaker James Cameron.
The legend goes that Winston was sketching out ideas for the Predator while on a flight with Cameron.
The director was looking over the rough ideas and mentioned having a desire to see a creature with mandibles.
The special effects artist then opted to add the detail to the monster.
Virtually every detail of the Predator is unsettling, from the strangely colored skin to its hair. The mandibles, however, manage to stand out above the rest of the physical traits as particularly unsettling.
19 An Original Suit Was Created… But It Didn’t Look Good
The enormously talented Stan Winston and his team were not the first people to take a crack at the suit. Before the dreadlocked, mandibled creature of carnage was created, an entirely different company was hired to design and deliver a costume for the monster.
Filming had already commenced by the time the first suit was delivered.
When the crew finally saw the finished product, they were extremely disappointed. It looked like a joke, and test footage did not assuage their concerns.
Fortunately, John Mctiernan persuaded the studio for a bigger budget and got Stan Winston on board.
If the Predator’s design did not strike fear and awe into viewer’s hearts, then none of the movie would have worked.
18 Shane Black Had A Small Part
Shane Black is one of Hollywood’s most renowned screenwriters, having penned Lethal Weapon and breaking records when he sold The Last Kiss Goodnight for over four million dollars.
He was still up and coming in 1987, so the producers hired him as an actor with the intention of also utilizing his writing skills.
According to producer John Davis, Black was hesitant to contribute to the script because he only wished to act.
His time in the movie is short, as he is one of the first characters slain by the Predator, and his only addition to the script is one of the adult jokes that his character tells.
Coincidentally, Black is writing and directing the upcoming The Predator.
17 The Los Angeles Lakers Appeared In Predator 2
When it came time to fill up all of those new suits for Predator 2, the production was in need of several extremely tall people.
In Los Angeles, when someone needs a group of folks with exceptional height, it is a sure bet they can be found in the Lakers.
Danny Glover, who starred in the sequel, was a huge fan of the team and requested their assistance with the scene.
It’s a short segment and their real faces are not shown on camera, but there must be no better feeling than stepping into the skin of an iconic movie monster.
The scene in question also ended being one of the most expensive to film for the production.
16 Jean-Claude Van Damme Was Fired
The first design for the Predator was also planned to have Jean-Claude Van Damme under the suit, stalking and eliminating the rescue team.
He was fired shortly into production, but reasons vary greatly as to exactly why he was let go.
Several people who worked on the movie relay different stories of his getting the axe. Some say that his insistence on showcasing his impressive kickboxing skills became too much of a problem, while others say that he broke the suit’s expensive head prop.
Two more accounts say that he simply passed out too much from the heat, and finally that he was too short to appear menacing compared to the giant actors who he was supposed to be hunting.
15 A Military Adviser Was Brought In To Train The Actors
When characters are supposed to be soldiers, it is best to get consultation from somebody who has really lived it. John Mctiernan did just this after relaying that the actors “look like a bunch of ballerinas.”
Gary Goldman was brought on as a military adviser and did his best to make the actors look convincing as career soldiers onscreen.
The first thing he did with them was take them on a run that would exhaust any normal man. By Goldman’s account, all of the actors were completely beaten down by the end of the run, even Schwarzenegger.
After that, he went easier on them, just giving advice and critiquing how soldierly they appeared on camera.
14 Arnold Schwarzenegger Had A Gym Shipped To Mexico
Every day deserves a good pump. No matter what life throws at them, body builders must always find time to hit the weights in order to grow their muscles and become stronger.
Even while filming in the conditions that the actors had to contend with in Predator, they still managed to keep up their godly physiques.
To make sure that they could workout every day, Arnold Schwarzenegger had a gym shipped to Mexico and set up in the ballroom of the hotel in which they were staying.
With the gym close by, all of the actors would wake up more than an hour before breakfast in order to train and get their bodies ever so closer to perfection.
13 Vietnam Veterans Were Hired To Play Soldiers
John Mctiernan firmly asserts that Predator is a horror movie, and not a war film.
With that being said, when the cast of characters are mainly military men, it is important to have some semblance of realism.
Jackie Burch, the movie’s casting director, wanted to hire exclusively Vietnam veterans for the soldiers. It did not pan out one hundred percent that way, but some actors were brought on board because of their experience in the war.
Jesse Ventura, for example, was a veteran. Richard Chaves, who plays Poncho, also served and had even written a successful play about war called Tracers.
The fact that even trained soldiers could not match up to the Predator made him that much more scary.
12 The Crew Was Unable To Fly From The U.S. To Mexico, So An Australian crew was brought in
Because of the limited budget of the first movie, the filmmakers were unable to bring a crew from the United States with them.
A crew from the shooting location in Mexico was hired, but this turned out to be a bad idea.
The crew had no experience in film, which resulted in exploding lights on the first day of filming. Even after this, getting a U.S. team proved impossible.
Cinematographer Donald McAlpine then scrambled to put together a capable team from his native Australia. Nearly overnight, he managed to assemble a crew from more than halfway across the world.
It doesn’t seem like it would be easier to hire people from Australia to fly to Mexico rather than the US, but such is the nature of bureaucracy.
11 Arnold Schwarzenegger Got Married While Filming Predator
Regardless of what one may think of his talent, nobody can deny that Arnold Schwarzenegger puts his heart and soul into every project.
Everybody who has ever collaborated with the Austrian body builder can attest to his extreme, unwavering discipline.
For proof of this, look no further than the fact that he actually tied the knot during production of Predator.
Did the production halt in order to allow Arnold time with his new wife, Maria Shriver? Hardly, John Davis says they all flew out to the wedding on a Friday, and the actor was back on set by Wednesday.
While the marriage lasted more than twenty years, it was sadly brought down by the actor’s infidelities.
10 Director John Mctiernan Hated The Palapa Sequence
The attack on the guerrilla base is a bombastic sequence during the first third of the movie where the heroes take out a whole slew of baddies without breaking a sweat. It’s beautifully constructed chaos, and the director hated it.
With filming running behind schedule, Craig Baxley, the second unit and stunt director, was asked to ramp up the scene’s carnage in order to show something to the studio.
He obliged, and in a little over a week, filmed the impressive sequence.
After viewing the footage, John Mctiernan was displeased and insisted that Predator not appear as a war movie.
Eventually the director was calmed down and the scene stayed in, serving as the perfect juxtaposition to the tension that soon follows it.
9 Sonny Landham Was A Loose Cannon On Set
Sonny Landham plays Billy in Predator, a character notable for choosing to face down the beast instead of fleeing. He loses his life, and his spine, for the effort, but it is a valiant end none the less.
The actor himself was known to be a reckless personality.
According to John McTiernan, the insurance company actually insisted that he have a bodyguard with him before he was hired.
Even with the bodyguard at his side, he managed to get in trouble during the off hours of the shoot.
Sonny still continued to have a successful career despite his behavior, but never stopped getting into some sort of trouble, even ending up with a short stint in prison.
8 Why Arnold Wasn’t In The Sequel
After Predator, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career only grew to staggering new heights. It would make perfect sense to bring him back for a sequel, but he was never involved in the franchise again.
Just why that was boils down to a couple of things. Firstly, there was a contract dispute over $250,000 according to John Davis. The second reason was because of Arnold’s disdain for the new setting.
The former actor has gone on record expressing his disappointment with all of the Predator sequels.
He even derided the upcoming The Predator, revealing that he refused to partake in it.
While Arnold usually knows a hit when he sees one, hopefully he misjudged and the movie does well.
7 Most Of The Suits From Predator 2 Were Lost
Predator 2 does what every sequels attempts and ups the ante in every way it can imagine. There is a different setting, more characters, and of course, more Predators for viewers to feast their eyes on.
The additional suits meant more work for Stan Winston and his team, but they pulled through. The majority of the suits took up little screen time, but at least they were made and can be looked at and appreciated, right?
Well the suits are certainly somewhere, but where that is no one knows, or at least they are not telling.
The majority of the costumes ended up lost without a trace. What a bummer to have all of that hard work lost forever.
6 An Alien Easter Egg in Predator 2 Foreshadowed Alien vs. Predator
The Alien vs. Predator movie was still more than ten years away when Predator 2 came out, but most know that the spinoff movie is based on a comic book series.
As a nod to the comic, the effects team made a Xenomorph skull to include in the movie.
The monster’s noggin can be seen when Danny Glover is gazing at all of the skulls displayed as trophies.
While the inclusion of the prop may have been done as a simple homage, it feels like so much more. In the finest movies, every detail tells a story.
It also foreshadowed a movie that would not be seen for another fourteen years, though some wish they’d never seen it at all.
5 Cuchillo is a parody of the character names that Danny Trejo usually plays
Despite only being a producer, Predators still has several hallmarks of a Robert Rodriguez movie. The most notable of these is the inclusion of the stone faced Latino actor Danny Trejo as Cuchillo
Funnily enough, Cuchillo was described as a “Danny Trejo type” in the script well before Trejo was cast.
Considering the relationship between Rodriguez and Trejo, it is not surprising that he landed a part in the movie.
It is also worth noting that the name Cuchillo is a parody of the character names Danny Trejo often plays. Where a machete is a large blade fit for cutting down crops and people, a cuchillo is a butter knife best fit for spreading toast on bread.
4 Predators Was Conceived In 1995
Movies often take time to cook once the initial idea is birthed. Unlike food, however, it seems impossible to overcook a movie, as evidenced by the fact that Robert Rodriguez wrote the first script to Predators back in 1995.
Though Rodriguez absolutely loved the first film, the task of writing the script was simply handed to him as a job.
Because of this, his original draft was filled with tons of bizarre ideas that were unfilmable all of those years ago.
When, almost fifteen years later, Fox opted to produce the movie, they made huge changes to the initial story to craft what eventually became Predators.
It is drastically different from the original script, but several elements still remained from 1995.
3 Leaves Were Used To Cover Footprints
In the jungle, a human presence is easily detectable. They cut brush, trample grass underfoot, and their clothing tears on branches.
One can easily understand how this poses a problem for a film shoot when characters are supposed to be walking into an area for the first time.
Predator found an obvious, if not comedic, way to remedy this situation.
After about an hour of shooting and the jungle starting to “look like a baseball ground,” a crew of people would dump bags of leaves on the ground to remove the lived-in look.
While a simple process, the effect worked and none of the setting looks like a whole film crew was just walking all over it.
2 It Provided A Commentary On Guns
Part of what makes Predator so special is that it is almost an anti-action movie. Big guns and big muscles do nothing to save people when their foe outwits them.
Only when there is one man left and he decides to slowly plan and use his environment as a weapon does he begin to stand a chance.
One scene that perfectly punctuates this idea is when they are blindly shooting into the forest and hit absolutely nothing.
The director himself said, “all of these guys have giant guns and the whole point is that they’re helpless in the face of this monster.”
Despite literally being one of the best movies, it was also a critique of the genre itself.
1 The Invisible Effect Was Used In Predator
Before all of the moving parts of a movie come together to create what audiences ultimately see on the screen, some of the elements by themselves can look awfully strange, and sometimes down right silly.
Predator is no exception to this idea, as behind the scenes footage can attest.
The invisibility effect in the final product is incredible, but before post production, it can definitely elicit some cackles. The effect is done by filming the scenes with a red suit.
Once a little movie magic is sprinkled on the shots, the cloaking is a perfect effect.
One story goes that Jean-Claude Van Damme saw the red suit, thinking it was the actual design, and became furious.
Can you think of any other behind the scenes trivia about the Predator movies? Let us know in the comments!
2018-09-11 09:09:03 – Jason Wojnar