Released in June 1987, Predator remains a highlight, not only of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career, but of American action movies in general. The movie further solidified the Governator’s place as Hollywood’s greatest action hero, and grossed nearly 4 times its $15 Million budget at the box office. It also served as a launching point for the career of director John McTiernan, who went on to helm not only the Die Hard franchise, but also 90s staples like The Hunt For Red October and The Last Action Hero.
The story of a group of army commandos stuck behind enemy lines in a South American jungle, only to realize that the thing hunting them isn’t human, has stood the test of time thanks to a combination of memorable characters, genuine tension, and awesome action. With this in mind, here’s a few of our favorite things about this action masterpiece.
Note: Since Predator is an R-rated film, some of the moments listed here will almost definitely feature explicit language or visuals. You have been warned.
1) The cast
It’s impossible to talk about this movie without going into its who’s-who cast of 80s staples. Schwarzenegger is obviously the star of the show, but the cast is rounded out by other big screen presences like Carl Weathers (best known as Apollo Creed from the Rocky series), and former professional wrestler (and future governor of Minnesota) Jesse “The Body” Ventura.
It also features a young Shane Black in the role of Hawkins. You might not remember him as an actor, but you’ve almost definitely seen one of his movies. He went on to write the Lethal Weapon franchise and The Last Action Hero, and later directed hits like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3, and The Nice Guys. Funny enough, he’s recently been tapped to direct the next Predator movie, simply called The Predator!
Oh, other fun fact: the Predator itself is voiced by Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime!
2) The muscles
One of the most hilariously famous scenes in the movie is the impromptu arm-wrestling match between Dutch (Schwarzenegger) and Dylan (Weathers). It’s a showcase of over the top machismo at its finest, and even comes with a great Arnie line.
Weathers has stated in interviews about the film that the actors would often wake up as early as 3 AM to work out before shooting, and that he especially would keep going when the others weren’t around. Apparently he wanted them to believe his musculature was natural, when it completely wasn’t.
3) The one-liners
It wouldn’t be a Schwarzenegger movie without some A+ one-liners, and Predator doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.
Even other actors get in on the action too!
Click to the next page for even more reasons Predator is awesome.
4) The Predator
Originally played by Jean-Claude Van Damme before being replaced by Kevin Peter Hall (Van Damme was shorter than the rest of the cast at 5′ 9″. while Hall was a hulking 7′ 2″), the Predator has gone on to become one of the most iconic movie monsters in history.
It’s hard not to see why. The combination of its creepy design (which was contributed to by James Cameron), awesome alien technology, and its cunning and ability to hunt even the strongest humans like animals, make it essentially the perfect horror villain.
Even 30 years later, the character remains a fan-favorite, having gone on to inspire sequels, spinoffs, comic books, toys, video games, and countless other merchandise. It’s even gone toe to toe with one of the most iconic superheroes of all time.
5) The jungle
Admirably filmed by McTiernan and director of photography Donald McAlpine, the movie’s setting is arguably a character in and of itself. Through lots of closeups and tight angles, the claustrophobic and expansive jungle makes you feel just as tense as the cast; it feels like the Predator really could be just around the corner at any time (which in many cases, it is).
It’s the same principle used to make other horror settings feel tight and oppressive (Camp Crystal Lake in Friday the 13th, the research base in The Thing etc.), and it works just as well here.
6) The action
Whether it’s the fast action of the team’s opening attack on a guerrilla base, or the slow, methodical action of Dutch’s final fight against the Predator, the movie doesn’t skimp out at any point.
I mean, who doesn’t love when Mac (Bill Duke) shreds an entire forest with his minigun?
7) The musical
You heard me.
What do you think?