Jim Thomas and John Thomas are a great writing team that, when left to their own devices have produced the stories for such marvels as PREDATOR, PREDATOR 2 (which showed that the great storyline of the first was no fluke!), and EXECUTIVE DECISION.
For this movie they were teamed up with Director John McTiernan who, though he has had his misses (THE 13th WARRIOR), has also had some great hits with such Thrillers as DIE HARD, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, and DIE HARD 3.
What more could you ask for? Well, how about Producers like Lawrence Gordon, Joel Silver, and John Davis who, at the top of their form, have produced Horror / Thriller movies like EVENT HORIZON, THE MATRIX, and THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1999). Some pedigree, eh? But this movie was also made in 1987, which was during the height and heyday of Arnold Schwarzenegger's (TERMINATOR, TERMINATOR 2, TOTAL RECALL, END OF DAYS, THE 6th DAY) career.
But wait (I feel like I'm writing ad copy for Ron Popiel here!) 20th Century Fox also tossed in one of the best Make-up Special Effects men in the business, Stan Winston (IT'S ALIVE, DEAD & BURIED, THE THING, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, TERMINATOR 2, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE).
After years of doing clean up and also-ran jobs behind such masters as Rob Bottin (for THE THING) and H. R. Giger (for ALIENS), PREDATOR finally gave Stan a chance to show his stuff in a big budget, major studio feature. Stan showed off Biggy Big Time with a creature creation that was wholly his own. The creature's movements are fluid and look so incredibly organic even in - and this is very important - daylight shots.
Unlike the creature effects that he did for ALIENS using Giger's magnificent original designs, here there is no dim lighting and dark shadows. There is nothing to hide the varmint and any discrepancies in the suits that would be magnified thousands of times on a large screen. The Predator is so wonderfully alive in fact, that for many fans a cross-over of ALIEN meets PREDATOR seemed natural. The two most real and terrifying creatures ever created for the screen have indeed, been brought together in comic book form (Darkhorse Publications) and more recently in Computer Game (ALIEN vs PREDATOR).
In PREDATOR, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Major Dutch Schaefer, commander of an ultra-elite Special Forces Rescue Squad. He has been called into the jungles of a Central American country to save a U. S. diplomatic attaché whose helicopter was shot down over the jungle and is now being held captive by a well armed rebel faction. His old friend Dillion (Carl Weathers), a fellow military Special Forces man, has called him in but Dillion is also keeping a secret.
However, there are secrets and there are secrets, and while the machinations of human deception are turning, there is a third party that no one has even dreamed of. An alien life form that hunts humans for trophies, has come into the midst of the armory and battle set deep and private in the jungle.
The Predator prefers to hunt hunters. Such a horror movie requires plenty of action to tell the story and Jim and John Thomas give it to us in overwhelming numbers. When this movie isn't being hair-raising (the chilling sight of the PREDATOR with its camouflage shield on), or being gory (The Predator prefers its trophies stripped clean to the bone), then the gun fighting and explosions are everything you would expect of a movie starring Arnold S.
As in the movie ALIENS where the Space Marines, full of bravado, must face the fact that they are the near helpless prey, so too Dutch Schaefer and his men soon realize that neither their training or their weapons can save them.
With a multi-cultural, multi-racial cast, it is too damn bad that this movie had to earn an
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PREDATOR, which starts off tongue in cheek at best, draws the audience into a horror story that turns like a screw through the outside façade of a simple shoot-em-up action flick. As the movie progresses and the body count builds, pride fails, weapons are useless, and learned disciplines, invented for use against a human foe, no longer apply. While the movie takes us deeper into the jungle, it also takes us deeper into the fear of those we would think fearless. Finally it is the human brain, the matching of wits against the Predator, that will determine survival.
The pacing of this film is benefited greatly by a wonderful score from Alan Silvestri (PREDATOR 2) and beautiful Cinematography by Donald McAlpine (CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER, THE EDGE).
I'm gushing. I know. The movie is that good. So shut up!
PREDATOR easily walks away with 4 Shriekgirls.
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