The predator. Part horror, part action

The 1987 classic, Predator, is one of my favorite movies of all time.  Not only is it peak 80’s action, chalk full of glistening muscle bound beefcakes mowing down droves of expendable baddies while peppering in iconic one liners amidst ridiculous testosterone fueled explosions, it’s also headlined by the greatest action star in the history of the genre, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  All of this would be enough to claim it’s rightful place in the pantheon of action movies but there is more to it than just mindless action schlock.  I’m a sucker for two things when it comes to movies.  The type of gratuitous action and violence only the 80’s could provide and a movie that starts off as one genre and pivots out of nowhere to become a completely different thing.  That last part is what makes this movie truly special.

Predator starts off as a generic run of the mill action flick.  We have all the tropes.  A group of absurdly jacked soldiers taking on a dangerous mission.  Our hero and his men brimming with confidence and bravado.  We even have someone telling us they are the best, my personal favorite.  Everything goes by the numbers for the first half hour of the movie.  There are some little hints that something isn’t right but it hits so many of the typical action movie beats that you may not even notice.  It just seems like a fun, mindless romp in the jungle with a bunch of colorful roided up bros.  Just your run of the mill ‘turn your brain off’ action flick.  Then, all of a sudden, it’s not. 

This movie pivots so quickly it’s likely to give an unwitting viewer the bends.  One minute you’re enjoying some over the top explosions and one liners then all of a sudden you are neck deep into a creature/slasher film.  It’s genuinely frightening to watch this group of supermen go from the cockiest bunch of Chads to confused and panicking mortals the way any normal person would if thrust into such a scenario.  The pacing is also a standout.  The restraint this movie elicits by not giving us a real look at the monster until nearly the end is incredible.  Especially because the actual costume design of the creature is one of the greatest you’ll ever see.  The unknown is always scarier.  So much so that when the reveal finally occurs it’s often a letdown.  Not here.  It’s somehow even more unsettling once we get a full look.  Just an absolutely iconic design in every way.  

It’s so impressive that the filmmakers were able to pull this off.  So many times I’m left disappointed by the execution of a film that only attempts to be one thing yet this movie goes for two different genres and nails them both.  The success of this mashup of action and horror only reinforces something I have recently come to believe.  The venn diagram of the two is almost a circle. 

Written by Josh Hansen. Check out his podcast here