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If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: 15 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Predator

If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: 15 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Predator Image
  • Posted on 05th Aug, 2022 08:14 AM
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Predator was one of the biggest hits of the 80s and so much of what happened behind the scenes contributed to its legacy that still continues today.

John McTiernan’s Predator from 1987 is one of those movies that spawned a massive franchise. The key to the original is its simplicity. It’s not about the lore or about why the alien is on Earth. It’s simply about one team's struggle for survival in the face of an unstoppable force.

Arnold Schwarzenegger versus an alien is a premise that sells itself. That alone is enough to make any action movie fan drool, and John McTiernan’s film gets a lot of mileage out of it. Many things happened behind the scenes to make the movie happen and become the blockbuster that it is.

Updated on August 5th, 2022 by Melody MacReady: After the disappointment of 2018's The Predator, the franchise is returning to its roots with a more grounded survival story known as Prey. In honor of the new Predator film, now is a good time for a history lesson about the original film and all of the many things that happened to bring the movie to audiences.

The original Predator design was much different than what audiences ended up getting and the actors suffered through a lot of pain because of the jungle setting; Predator was far from a smooth production. It all paid off in the end, however, with one of the most beloved sci-fi action movies.

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16 Arnold Schwarzenegger Won A Bottle Of Champagne For Having Bigger Arms Than Jesse Ventura

 

 

After meeting Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended him to the producers of Predator for the role of Blain. When it came to shooting, Ventura was ecstatic to hear from the costume department that his arms were an inch bigger than Schwarzenegger’s.

RELATED: 10 Things About Predator (1987) That Still Hold Up Today

He challenged Schwarzenegger to a bet where they would measure their arms, and the one with the biggest arms would get a bottle of champagne. However, Schwarzenegger won the bet because all along he’d asked the costume department to tell Ventura his arms were bigger.

 

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15 Shane Black Was Killed First On Purpose

 

Having recently completed the script for Lethal Weapon, Shane Black was cast as a supporting actor in Predator, in the role of Hawkins. This was the studio’s way of getting Black in the middle of the jungle so that he could perform on-set rewrites if it was required.

So his character was killed off first in order to get Black behind the scenes. Black didn’t like the glasses he was given to wear as Hawkins. Instead, he wanted to wear ballistic glasses that the military would issue, but director John McTiernan wanted his character to look as much like a dork as possible. Shane Black would then go on to write and direct the 2018 sequel The Predator.

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14 Jean-Claude Van Damme Was Initially Cast As The Predator

 

Initially, the plan was for the Predator to be an agile martial artist with ninja-like reflexes and Jean-Claude Van Damme was cast in the role. However, the weight of the costume hindered its wearer’s flexibility, making it difficult to do martial arts. This became one of the more famous alternate designs for a horror character.

Van Damme was unhappy with being hidden under a hot costume instead of appearing on camera, and the producers felt that he was too short anyway, so he left the project and was replaced by the 7’2” Kevin Peter Hall.

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13 James Cameron Saved Predator's Production

After the last Predator design caused the actor to quit and proved to be too much for special effects, the production for the movie was shut down until they could fix it. Stan Winston, the famous special effects artist, was in charge of the design and he was paid a visit by famous director James Cameron.

According to Winston himself, James Cameron stated that he had always wanted to see a monster with mandibles. One thing led to another and soon enough, Stan Winston presented the design that would become the Yautja Hunters in Predator and all future movies.

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12 The Predator Costume Weighed More Than 200lbs

The costume worn by Kevin Peter Hall in the role of the Predator weighed more than 200 pounds. Even though Hall stood at over seven feet tall and was, for all intents and purposes, very strong, he needed to be connected to a bungee rig that would allow him to move around more convincingly.

RELATED: Every Predator Mask In The Franchise, Ranked

This would become a common hassle for Kevin Peter Hall in his career seeing how he has also played the titular Harry in Harry And The Hendersons. He would even return to play the City Hunter in Predator 2.

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11 Kevin Peter Hall Has Two Roles

The actor who plays the Predator has the credit of playing both someone who tried to kill Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as save him. After the Predator shows how much of a sore loser he is by causing a nuclear explosion, Dutch is saved by a rescue helicopter.

In a blink-and-miss cameo, Kevin Peter Hall plays the pilot who comments on the view of the mushroom cloud in the middle of the Guatemalan jungle. This is not that dissimilar to when Andy Serkis portrayed King Kong as well as as the head chef of the Venture in Peter Jackson's King Kong.

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10 The Original Screenplay Was Later Adapted

Ever since the discovery of the original Predator design and the many changes made to the screenplay, fans were curious how it would have turned out. Well, their curiosity can be satisfied with the comic Predator: The Original Screenplay by Dark Horse comics.

A similar treatment was given to both Alien and Alien 3 by Dark Horse. Rather than the classic Predator that fans know, it featured the more nimble and reptilian version that became the unused suit. This isn't the only time the design was reused; it was also repurposed for an alien creature in 2010's Predators.

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9 The Predator Was Voiced By Optimus Prime

While Kevin Peter Hall delivered the physical performance, all of the trills and other vocals of the Yautja Hunter were performed by Peter Cullen. This is similar to how voice actors such as Frank Welker and Dee Bradley Baker have made a living by voicing creatures and animals.

Peter Cullen is an iconic voice actor who is famous being the quintessential voice of Optimus Prime for decades since the original Transformers animated series. He has even discussed and demonstrated his talent live at conventions and events, showing off that he can still do the iconic Predator vocals.

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8 The Predator's Heat-Vision Was A Complicated Process

Even though the main concept of the Predator is that it hunts by seeing body heat, there was a big problem with that. The jungle is hot, even on the coldest days, it was still a hot and muggy location to film in. As a result, heat-vision cameras could not be solely used to film the Predator's POV.

Joel Hynek, the film's visual effects supervisor explained in an interview how it was done. Whilst the heat vision cameras filmed, there was also a regular film camera recording the same scene. In post-production, the two footages were altered and spliced to create the blue background with colorful silhouettes of the characters.

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7 Arnold Schwarzenegger Got Carl Weathers Hooked On Cigars On Set

For the scene near the opening of the movie in which Dutch smokes a cigar on the helicopter, the glow of the cigar had to be added in post-production because health and safety precautions prevented Arnold Schwarzenegger from lighting a cigar inside the helicopter.

During filming, Schwarzenegger got Carl Weathers hooked on cigars. Schwarzenegger is famous for smoking cigars, but as an ex-athlete, Weathers had always stayed away from them. Schwarzenegger offered him one, he caved, and when he enjoyed it, Schwarzenegger gave him a whole box.

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6 Most Of The Cast And Crew Got Sick

Predator was shot in Mexico, and the hotel that the production team was staying in had an issue with the water purification. This led to most of the cast and crew getting diarrhea. The only two people who didn’t get sick were Arnold Schwarzenegger and director John McTiernan.

RELATED: Arnold Schwarzenegger's 10 Best Movies, According To Metacritic

However, both Schwarzenegger and McTiernan lost 25lbs during filming. Schwarzenegger lost the weight to play a soldier, while McTiernan simply lost it because he avoided the food on location.

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5 Schwarzenegger Went Through A Lot Of Pain

He may not have gotten sick but Arnold Schwarzenegger took damage. According to Men's Journal, Schwarzenegger stated that that he took even more hits than he did filming Conan The Barbarian.

That was actually Schwarzenegger leaping from cold waterfalls and he spent weeks covered in mud to film the final act. Arnold demonstrates a lot of commitment was put into starring in Predator, making his performance feel more realistic.

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4 The Predator’s Blood Was Made With Glow Sticks

 

The Predator’s glowing neon green blood is one of many easy props to make since it was made by mixing the liquid from the inside of glow sticks into KY Jelly. So, anyone making a Predator fan film can easily recreate the alien’s blood.

This simple recipe meant that the crew could make a ton of it on the set, and there were no complications. It just goes to show that not everything to make a film work needs to have a complicated or expensive process; a few household items and some ingenuity can do the trick.

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3 The Actors Got Up At Three In The Morning To Work Out Every Day Before Shooting

According to Carl Weathers in a 2001 documentary about Predator, the actors would wake up as early as four in the morning to work out and get a pump on before each day of shooting.

Weathers himself would only work out when the other actors had vacated the gym, which allowed him to maintain the illusion that his rippling physique just came naturally.

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2 Billy Was The Inspiration For Prey

One of the most memorable members of Dutch's team was Billy, a Native-American scout played by Sonny Landham. Though his death is not shown on screen, the scene left an impact on Dan Trachtenberg, the director of Prey.

Dan Trachtenberg has actually stated, as reported by ComicBook.com, that Billy was the one that made him want to make Prey all about a Comanche tribe. He said that he wanted to focus on characters that are usually the sidekicks.

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NEXT: Every Yautja Hunter In The Predator Franchise, Ranked

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