“El cazador trofeo de los hombres means, the demon who makes trophies of men” Occasionally I miss the days when I wasn’t bombarded with endless advertisements about movies. I didn’t have to stalk websites for plot details, cast lists, and any and all news about the movies I wanted to watch. It was as simple as my dad saying “Sit still and watch this.” I was a good kid, so I did what I was told, and it was a movie so he wasn’t asking much. The movie starts with that instantly recognizable fanfare and then space. Being the young age I was (5-10) my attention was there, but not entirely, as the movie went on. “Hey, it’s Arnold! He makes awesome movies!” Again, attention span was in and out for the duration. “Hey, the jungle! And explosions! What does ‘skinned alive mean’? That is the greatest machine gun I’ve ever seen! What’s with the camera and the weird colors?” The person I am today would’ve slapped the shit outta this kid not paying attention to what I watch at least once a month now. The movie and child commentary continued. “Everybody is dying, something familiar about that. Why can’t they kill this thing and how does it have cool spiky hair? Wait a minute that’s a mask?!” And then I saw it… It’s one of my earliest memories of movies and one of the few scenes where to this day nearly thirty years later I lose myself and find myself. The movie was Predator. It’s a beautiful thing when a movie blends genres, and Predator does it so well no one ever considers it a horror movie. But I got news for you: Predator is one of the greatest. And has given us one of the most enduring, endearing, visceral, bad-ass, spine-ripping, plasma-blasting, and above all else, beautiful hero/villains of all time. It starts with a simple rescue mission. Some damn fool accused Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his team of being the best, and company man Dillon (Carl Weathers) is gonna tag along because “We all have our orders.” This causes friction. Dillon isn’t part of the team and not entirely an expert on a rescue team. Our group is on the trail in South America to rescue a cabinet minister held in guerrilla hands. Simple enough, but along the way they encounter the grisly remains of the team that came before them. Skinned bodies don’t seem like the typical m.o. of some half-assed mountain boys. But something else doesn’t add up. Billy (Sonny Landham), the tracker on the team, picks up the trail of a firefight with shots fired in every direction and no sign of guerrillas. These unanswered questions hurry our heroes to the encampment where they do what they do best: blow the complete shit out of every structure, vehicle, and unfortunate sap in sight. Along the way, they capture Anna (Elpidia Carrillo) and we learn the real reason why Dillon tagged along. In typical company man fashion, there was some shady dealings going on with Russians and weapons and he needed a cover story to get Dutch to go along. Mission accomplished. The most immediate problem is getting to a rendezvous to be picked up. However, the more serious problem is what our team doesn’t know: that something is watching them. Something from a high vantage point and something that sees their body heat. This is the first change in genre our movie makes. We were firmly rooted in action/war, headed straight into slasher… Predator has more in common with the horror movie than you think and has most of the archetypes. The token jokester fixated on pussy, the wise man who knows they are all doomed, the lying douchebag looking for redemption, the suave classy guy who goes crazy, the final girl, a hero’s reliance on wits and surroundings to defeat the monster, and most importantly a villain with great one-liners and signature weapons. The most obvious is the Ten Little Indians corollary where an unseen killer picks off his victims one by one. This begins when Hawkins (Shane Black) is quickly, violently, and bloodily dispatched in a means that we can only imagine. Next, Blaine (Jesse Ventura), who despite having the biggest gun in the movie (and maybe the planet) has his chest blown out with a weapon that instantly cauterizes the wound. When Mac (Bill Duke) looks up at what killed his friend, all he sees is a camouflaged figure in the shape of a man and two flashing green eyes. This small glimpse, along with a brief surgery scene that shows us some green blood and a lizardy hand, does little to answer what we are dealing with. Like a blank face on Halloween night, the not knowing is always scarier. A failed attempt at catching whatever is attacking our team divides our heroes for good, and in pretty quick succession Mac gets his head blown away, Dillion loses an arm and gets impaled with skill and ferocity that would impress Jason. Dillon’s scream is the last straw for Billy and in epic fashion, he stands alone to face a force of nature armed with only a machete. Seconds later he gives his own blood-curdling scream. Ready to fire, the final two soldiers don’t stand a chance as Pancho (Richard Chaves) is killed and Dutch separates from Anna. This is the last genre change in the movie and a superb one. We are now watching an entirely different movie… On the list of things people think about when they hear of this movie, music is nowhere near the list, but it should be. Alan Silvestri’s work is phenomenal and in dire need of a reevaluation. It fantastically walks a line between sounding militaristic and primal, which is dead on balls accurate for a picture with this much machismo. But it doesn’t forget we are watching a horror movie with great cues reminiscent of the shrillness of Psycho and the pounding of Jaws. The highlight of the score is when Dutch escapes and while covered in mud realizes he can’t be seen by whatever is trying to kill him. He knows he must make his last stand. It’s the most unique part of the movie. No more guns are fired, only a few lines are spoken, and we get closer to the answer of what this villain’s motives really are. The music maintains a repetitive drum beat that accompanies and accentuates Dutch’s preparations for his trap. The score keeps building as our villain rips out Billy’s spine high in the trees and adores the skulls of his victims as if they were art. (Sound familiar?) The drum beat keeps building and building, culminating in Arnold’s primal roar. I can’t say if this is just an 80s thing – sure Rocky did it in Siberia and Kirk did it when abandoned on Regula 1 – but I can say it makes a stronger conflict. Today’s movies don’t do it, is it because the villains aren’t deserving of this kind of response, being namely faceless and unentertaining? Or am I out of touch with what is and isn’t “in.” Considering I largely write about the 80s it may be the latter. Dutch makes valiant effort to destroy this thing by doing significant damage with some hastily made explosives but ultimately comes up short. Out of explosives and out of camouflage, Dutch is face to face with… something. Something that is able to hold him off the ground with considerable ease and then briefly lets him go. It stands across from him and removes its shoulder weapon. Then removes… its mask. I find it difficult to write about what this scene does to me. I have studied and analyzed it countless times. Without dispute, Stan Winston’s work here represents the height of his powers. The scowl in the eyes, the clicking of the mandibles, the imperfect details in the forehead, the smaller spikes along the upper cheek and jawline, the veiny minutiae in the gums when the jaw opens to unleash that piercing, powerful roar. It’s staggering to me no matter how many times I’ve seen it. This is movie and monster magic at its most absolute beautiful, finest, and pure. This scene is also where we fall in love with this enduring character that is Predator. Few villains cast away their weapons and seek to destroy their antithesis with respect. This isn’t like Michael Myers killing someone with his hands. There is ritual here when the Predator fights Dutch and it gives this villain a level of class that is simply not seen before or after. Arnold has never taken a beating like he has here and luckily the trap works and the monster is incapacitated. Dutch asks, “What the hell are you?” The monster replies, “What the hell are YOU?” When was the last time an alien/monster/bad guy was so existential? Rather than die slowly, with a few clicks on its arm a countdown begins and the laughing starts. Which only adds to the charisma of this great character. Who has ever heard of an alien choosing ritual suicide? Predator is not just essential to the 80s but it’s an essential film. The sequels and remakes and reboots of comic book movies and weak PG-13 action movies are what we live with today. But, once upon a time, huge muscles and explosions ruled the movies and we were treated to the most iconic, unforgettable and most importantly, original villains. Predator is an impeccably paced movie that makes the most out of every genre it masterfully utilizes. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to prowl the Internet for any and all news on Shane Black’s The Predator (2018). See larger image Predator (Ultimate Hunter Edition) [Blu-ray] The ultimate hunter meets the ultimate adversary… in the ultimate Collector’s Edition DVD! Arnold Schwarzenegger wages an all-out war against an unseen enemy, a force more powerful and deadly than any on Earth-because the Predator is not of this Earth. New From: $6.70 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.