30 years ago, critics sort of hated ‘Predator’
I know it’s hard to believe - sarcasm fully engaged - but back in the ’80s, movie critics didn’t like some of the flicks that we consider to be truely classic. Take Predator, for example, which turns 30 years old today.
The sci-fi/horror flick, released June 12, 1987, starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as the head of a special forces team on a mission to rescue hostages in Central America. Turns out they’re being hunted themselves by one of the ugliest extraterrestrial lifeforms we’d seen on film to date. Predator was made for just $15 million but went on to score big at the box office (leading to sequels, remakes and crossover projects).
And don’t even get me started on all the great quotes that we still use today. “I ain’t got time to bleed.” “Get to the chopper!” “You are one ugly..” well, I better stop there.
In any case, the critics were not amused. The plot, which granted was not the movie’s strong point, was the issue at hand with most of the experts. The New York Times called Predator “grisly and dull.” The L.A. Times was more vicious, declaring that Predator suffered because it featured “arguably one of the emptiest, feeblest, most derivative scripts ever made as a major studio movie."
Roger Ebert, who generally had kinder words for movies from our decade, wrote that Predator “begins like Rambo and ends like Alien, and in today's Hollywood, that's creativity. Most movies are inspired by only one previous blockbuster.”
Ultimately of the plot’s shortcomings, Ebert concluded: “None of these logical questions are very important to the movie. Predator moves at a breakneck pace, it has strong and simple characterizations, it has good location photography and terrific special effects, and it supplies what it claims to supply: an effective action movie.”
Here are five more things you probably didn’t know about Predator on its 30th anniversary.
1. Actor Kevin Peter Hall - who stood 7’2” - was the man inside the Predator costume. He also played the part of “Harry” in Harry and the Hendersons, also released in the summer of 1987. Alas, he was not the first choice for the role; Jean-Claude Van Damme was cast in the part, but withdrew when the demands of the Predator’s suit were too much for him. (He reportedly passed out a few times from the heat.)
2. The shooting of the film nearly collided with Schwarzenegger's wedding to Maria Shriver, with one scene being shot just 48 hours before the ceremony.
3. Carl Weathers once told an interviewer that Schwarzenegger got him addicted to cigar smoking during filming. The actor was a non-smoker dating all the way back to his playing days in the NFL.
4. Predator was the film debut of Jesse Ventura. The former pro wrestler (and future governor of Minnesota) also appeared in The Running Man in 1987.
5. Predator had a huge opening weekend in June 1987, but it didn’t top the box office that weekend; Beverly Hills Cop II landed on top.