Movies · Movies II · This Day in Movie History

This Day in Movie History: ‘Predator’ Was Released In Theaters In 1987

Predator 1987_Movie Still (2)

“Get to the Chopper!”

On this day in 1987, ‘Predator’ was released in theaters. The film starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura, Kevin Peter Hall, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke and Sonny Landham.

Synopsis:

Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a soldier of fortune, is hired by the U.S. government to secretly rescue a group of politicians trapped in Guatemala. But when Dutch and his team, which includes weapons expert Blain (Jesse Ventura) and CIA agent George (Carl Weathers), land in Central America, something is gravely wrong. After finding a string of dead bodies, the crew discovers they are being hunted by a brutal creature with superhuman strength and the ability to disappear into its surroundings.

Predator 1987_Movie Poster

This movie is one of my favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger films. Stan Winston and his team did a fantastic job in creating the Predator suit, who portrayed by seven-foot-four-inch actor, Kevin Peter Hall.

Predator 1987_BTS Still (3)
Stan Winston’s Predator set crew. Pictured left to right: Shane Mahan, Steve Wang, Stan Winston (crouching), Brian Simpson, Kevin Peter Hall (as Predator), Shannon Shea, Richard Landon & Matt Rose

“The Predator is an iconic character, as well known and loved in science fiction film history as any character out there. And he’s basically a man in a suit.” – Legendary SFX creator, Stan Winston

The original Predator costume was awful and looked like a giant praying-mantis. The costume was scrapped in the middle of production by director John McTiernan. Arnold recommended legendary SFX creator Stan Winston to design an all-new Predator. 

Stan said: ‘Listen, guys. I will never strap a production with a one year build schedule. That’s not fair to them. These people are trying to make movies, and they are trying to do it in a timely fashion. I’m always going to be as flexible and accommodating of that as I can be.’ And his team said: ‘Okay, but why this? Why Predator?’ And Stan said, ‘Because this is going to be a great movie.’ He was doing it as a favor to Arnold, partly, but his instincts told him that Predator was going to be great, which shows his good judgement of material.” I am so glad that Winston did that favor for Arnold. 

It took Winston and his team six weeks to create an icon. “There was a lot of pressure to get this done, because production was waiting for the new character so they could start shooting again.” Winston said, “And there was additional pressure because somebody else had already failed. We didn’t want to be their ‘strike two’. Not only that, we’d been recommended by Arnold, who was a dear friend, and we didn’t want to let him down.” (via Stan Winston School)

The original Stan Winston Studio Predator suit.
The original Stan Winston Studio Predator suit.

Here’s an awesome behind-the-scenes video from the Predator FX Crew 25th Year Reunion:

Stan Winston's original PREDATOR design.
Stan Winston’s original PREDATOR design.

The inspiration for the Predator design:

Inspiration for the Predator design came from a piece of artwork in Joel Silver’s office, a painting of a Rastafarian warrior. “I saw that and I thought it was a great starting concept for the Predator,” Winston said. “I stared drawing and designing this alien character with quills that in silhouette would look like dreadlocks. During this same period of time, Aliens had come out, and Jim Cameron and I were flying to Japan to participate in a symposium about the movie. We were sitting next to each other on the plane, and I was sketching and drawing the Predator. Jim suddenly said, ‘You know, I’ve always wanted to see something with mandibles.’  And I said, ‘Hmmm, that’s an interesting idea.’ And I stared drawing the now-famous mandibles of the Predator. So, between the Rastafarian painting in Joel Silver’s office and the mandible idea from Jim Cameron, I came up with ‘Stan Winston’s Predator’. And I take complete credit for it, even though I had nothing to do with it, obviously!” – (via Stan Winston School)

Main title composed by Alan Silvestri:

Top Quotes:

  • “I ain’t got time to bleed.” – Blain (Jesse Ventura)
  • “If it bleeds, we can kill it.” – Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
  • “There’s something out there waiting for us, and it ain’t no man… We’re all gonna die.” – Billy (Sonny Landham)
  • “Come on! Do it! Do it! Come on. Come on! Kill me! I’m here! Kill me! I’m here! Kill me! Come on! Kill me! I’m here! Come on! Do it now! Kill me!” – Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

Fun Facts:

  • Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally the guy in the Predator suit. The “Muscles from Brussels” was reportedly fired from the movie because he complained too much about how uncomfortable the suit was.
  • Peter Cullen, best known for voicing Optimus Prime, provided the vocal effects for the Predator. <- How cool is that?!
  • Predator’ was originally titled ‘Hunter.’
  • The Predator’s glowing green blood was actually made from glow sticks.
  • Shane Black, who plays Hawkins, had previously written the screenplay for Lethal Weapon; he was covertly cast in the film so that he would be available to make on-the-fly and uncredited script changes while onset. Most famously, Black would later write and direct Iron Man 3.
  • The Commando look in the film was based on Sgt. Rock comics. Hawkins can actually be seen reading a Sgt. Rock comic in the end credits.
  • Kevin Peter Hall stated in an interview that his experience on the film, “wasn’t a movie, it was a survival story for all of us.” For example, in the scene where the Predator chases Dutch, the water was foul, stagnant and full of leeches.
  • The Predator’s heat vision wasn’t actually heat vision. The filmmakers attempted to use actual heat vision for the Predator, but the specific camera proved impractical for the on-location shoot. Instead, normal footage was made into a negative image in post-production and exaggerated “heat vision” colors were added to create the effect.
  • After Predator kills his entire team, Dutch yells at Anna to “Get to the Chopper!”. The actress initially didn’t know what Arnold was saying because of his thick accent, and found the line humorous. It took several takes, as the actress kept laughing when he screamed it.
    After Predator kills his entire team, Dutch yells at Anna to “Get to the Chopper!”. The actress initially didn’t know what Arnold was saying because of his thick accent, and found the line humorous. It took several takes, as the actress kept laughing when he screamed it.
  • The Commando look in the film was based on Sgt. Rock comics. Hawkins can actually be seen reading a Sgt. Rock comic in the end credits.
  • Predator was wrestler Jesse Ventura’s first film.
  • The mandibles of the predator were the idea of James Cameron.

Character Portraits and Movie Stills:

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