The Predator or Yautja creature is back on the hunt, 8 years after the last movie Predators was released, and is coming to screens in Kuwait on September 13.
Given the gap between the original series and this latest film, it’s only fair to re-introduce the big game hunter to a whole new generation of viewers by recapping a bit of history.
So how did this iconic movie monster get its start?
The Predator movies began life with sibling screenwriters Jim and John Thomas, who had an idea for a script called Hunter. They were fascinated with the idea of turning the concept of hunting on its head, where an extra-terrestrial tracks down the best targets, as opposed to humans having the upper hand.
John Davis, an executive at 20th Century Fox at that time, was one of the first to see the script and immediately passed it on to Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was fresh off his success in The Terminator and Commando.
“I left the studio and decided to become a producer. And Arnold had said to me, ‘why don’t you just produce the movie? You developed it,’” Davis said.
Once the movie was given a green light, Davis roped in director John McTiernan (hired off the back of his work on 1986’s Nomads) and a cast full of tough guys including Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Sonny Landham, Jesse Ventura, and Shane Black.
What followed was a shoot that has gone down as legend… with stories of gyms built in hotel ballrooms, muscle-measuring contests, and plenty of challenges such as dysentery, and even issues with that original location’s foliage.
“We didn’t finish the movie,” Davis explains. “We only shot two-thirds of it and ran out of money. We showed it to the head of the studio, and he says, ‘well, there’s only two-thirds of a movie here!’ And we said ‘yeah, we didn’t shoot anymore.’ He says, ‘well go back and finish it.’”
The other major challenge for the film was finding the right monster. Numerous versions of the Predator had been suggested and rejected, and a plan to have Jean-Claude Van Damme, before his action star days, play the creature were scrapped. It was only over one weekend that effects expert Stan Winston and his team created the iconic look of the alien with the towering Kevin Peter Hall bringing a commanding presence to the role. The result was a tense, action-packed cat-and-mouse game which leads to the big showdown with Schwarzenegger that wraps up the story.
Predator on its release in 1987 immediately became a hit.
For Fred Dekker, who co-wrote The Predator with Shane Black, and has known him since before his time on the original film, the appeal of the movie is clear. “To me, it all boils down to iconography. Which is to say, something like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or Ridley Scott’s Alien, whenever you have something that is very specific and unique and jumps out at you for whatever reason… It can be Quentin Tarantino, who can take a pulp notion of storytelling and turn it on its ear with self-referential stuff. And suddenly it has an iconography that’s in some ways more important than the story or characters.”
Predator’s success led to a sequel, Predator 2, which is set in 1997, during a sweltering Los Angeles summer. As gangs go to war, a much more dangerous threat stalks the streets and rooftops, taking out drug dealers and challenging the cops. Danny Glover plays the lead this time, as his Lieutenant Mike Harrison realizes that he and his colleagues have more to worry about than just human dangers. The movie built on the mythology and even included a proper look at the Predator ship.
The Predator creature continued to appear in Alien vs. Predator entries and 2010’s Predators. But after a few years away from the screen, The Predator now moves the story forward with humanity knowing more about the aliens, and a group of military veterans as the last line of defense when things go very wrong.
As for the actual Predators, expect to see some upgrades.
“We looked at each other and said, ‘these aliens have developed interstellar spacecraft, so they’re not dumb,’” says Fred Dekker, who co-wrote The Predator with Shane Black. “Predators have to do something besides hunt. And we’ve seen them do that. So now, what can we do to expand the mythology of this species? That was our starting point. Sometimes sequels can fall into a trap of just remaking the same movie in a different environment, and we wanted to avoid that. I proposed that we explain why the Predator is kind of humanoid. Shane [Black] thought that was an interesting take and it became the seed for the evolutionary take on the movie.”
Watch the cast take on “Predator vs…” challenge where they guess who could win in showdown against the hunter.
The Predator will be released on September 13 in theaters across Kuwait. Get your tickets today! Featured image courtesy of 20th Century Fox.