Predator (1987)

Predator (1987) — Just before going on to direct the gold standard of all action movies (Die Hard) John McTiernan gave us this rumble in the jungle.  This film starts out as a “men on a mission” story and then gradually transitions to the alien horror subgenre.  Arnold Schwarzenegger does what he does best in this movie: looks like a badass and kills lots of stuff.  Roles like this are why he was elected governor (where the disparity between fact and fiction quickly became evident) (coincidently Jesse Ventura was also elected governor and Sonny Landham ran an unsuccessful Senate campaign). The rest of the cats does all right. No great amount of acting is particularly called for, but Bill Duke manages to seriously overdo it anyway. The real star of this movie is Kevin Peter Hall as the titular Predator (Jean-Claude Van Damme had the role originally but was fired supposedly for being an asshole). The fact that you don’t see the monster for most of the movie is the biggest part of what makes it an effective monster.  It builds the anticipation and suspense. When you do finally see the creature, the effects work of the late great Stan Winston does not disappoint.  The creature looks like the rasta termite from hell and is, as Schwarzenegger so eloquently puts it, “one ugly motherfucker.” Maybe it’s just the fact that I grew up on them but sci fi action movies from 1980s just seemed to “get it” in a way that later generations didn’t.

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