Predator: State of the Union

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  • on July 2, 2009
  • Filed in: Film


If by some divine chance the gods smiled on you like they smiled on me then you must have, abortion at some point in your life, been a little boy. I’m sure little girls had it made too, but from first-hand experience I can attest that being a little boy was golden-euphoria. And being a little boy that bore witness to 1987’s Predator was as magical as rubbing your eyes till rainbows.

The film was a revelation because it represented everything a little boy might dream adulthood could be. It featured big muscles, giant guns, a scary monster, disgusting wounds and sublimely badass dialogue.

Webster’s definition of tough guy dialogue:  “I ain’t got time to bleed.” – 1987’s Predator

Being a little boy at the time of glory, the film reiterated to me, at an exponential degree, the  same narrative that had been running fevered laps in my brain. That narrative being, simply: humans vs. monsters (aliens fall under monsters, as anything that isn’t US is THEM). And having lived a decade and a half since that first viewing, I can still say with utmost confidence that monsters have never been as cool as the Predator. Laser-sights, gnarly fingers, invisibility-camouflage and a face full of JESUSCHRIST fright. He was the James Dean of monsters.

WHY MONSTERS? Because the banality of it all can be too much unless tempered with giddy-terror. This is why the scene with Billy on the log influenced me more profoundly than the French New Wave.

Adding to the accrued fear, this particular monster hunts us. While monsters are hopefully always  scary, monsters that methodically hunt humans like humans hunt deer (taking spinal chords and skulls as trophies), strikes a wonderfully primal blow to the yellow-belly we all possess. Especially when you are young enough to believe evil floats through every shadow.


For all the above-mentioned reasons I was Citizen Kane-“Rosebud”-obsessed with Predator and it was the first DVD I ever purchased.

Predator 2, while having it’s share of beauty-madness, didn’t touch the transcendence of the first one. Those in charge believed they were raising the stakes by moving the anti-villain to the big city and having him go head-to-head with Danny Glover. What they failed to realize was that there is nothing as remarkable as Arnold Schwarzenegger and a monster in the middle of the jungle. Sorry. Nothing is as remarkable. Danny Glover is a fine actor, but the sequel was doomed from the get-go. For me it had a crude sensibility and unbalanced focus. That being said, I still enjoyed it. It just didn’t give me the same crippling bouts of pleasure-fear.

The next generation of films were the Alien vs. Predator blah-blahs. They were striving for the admirable goal of creating the apex of badassery with the combination of the two franchises but the result was a relegation of both monsters’ intimidation. It became a tedious chess match between two once-vital threats (with forgettable actors playing the forgettable bystanders). The movies made boatloads of green at the box office but felt like different worlds. Predator just wasn’t James Dean anymore.

So, when a franchise loses relevance Hollywood does what Hollywood does. REBOOT, REMIX. It milks the property dry. This time the film will be called Predators and will be produced by Robert Rodriguez.

The just-named director of the new film will be Nimrod Antal. I can get behind a choice like this. I thought his first effort, Kontroll, was a wily blend of comedy and suspense. And his follow-up Vacancy was a nice little punch to the gut. I’m intrigued to see what he can do with a big-time budget and a producer that thoroughly believes in the sacred go-for-broke aesthetic. The new film is said to take place on the Predator’s home planet which, if done correctly, could remind me what made this beast so close to my heart. Or it could just be overkill on top of overkill.

Regardless, I was still a little boy when I saw the original. So I’ve had my Christmas morning.

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