Six Degrees of Schwarzenegger Podcast – Predator Ep. 4


Highlights from this section of PREDATOR

  • The squad takes Anna with them on the run from the guerillas
  • Mac versus Dillon – Round 2
  • Billy senses that they are being stalked
  • Anna makes an escape attempt
  • Hawkins meets the Predator

Mac vs Dillon: Why all the hate?

The animosity between the characters of Mac (Bill Duke) and Dillon (Carl Weathers) is palpable throughout PREDATOR.  To a lesser extent the rest of Dutch’s crew seem to have nothing but disdain for Dillon from the get-go.  This is a character dynamic that’s never really explained, but Mac is clearly the focal point of the group’s collective anger towards the CIA operative.  To a degree it makes sense that the crew is weary of having this outsider join them for a dangerous mission, but the bullying starts immediately even as they’re being helicoptered into the jungle.

The first moment that Dillon slips and gives away the group’s position, Mac is right there threatening to literally murder him.  As soon as they’re done clearing the guerillas out of the palapa, Mac resumes his assault on Dillon.  He calls Dillon over to him with a menacing whisper, forces him to turn is back to him, then kills a scorpion on his back with a knife.  As the audience, our first thought it that Mack is about to stab Dillon in the back

Despite all the (well-deserved) abuse the squad heaps on Dillon, Dillon redeems himself in his final moments.  When Mac loses his mind and goes after the Predator by himself, Dillon volunteers to go after him in what is almost certainly a suicide mission.  And before Predator ultimately kills them both, Mac and Dillon get to bury the hatchet and gain some appreciation for each other.

For another very outside the box take on the bizarre character dynamics, check out this article about the (at least in the writer’s perception) homoerotic subtext in PREDATOR.


Surprise or suspense, and which is more prevalent in PREDATOR

Surprise and suspense are both used heavily in film, and while they’re closely related, they are distinctly different.  In film school, a professor explained it to me like this: surprise is when a person is walking down the street and a bus blows up unexpectedly; suspense is when the audience knows there is a bomb on the bus and is waiting for it to blow up.  It’s not essential that the film characters know what the audience knows, and many times they don’t.  Sometimes it can be more suspenseful if the character knows that there’s a bomb that will blow up any second, other times it’s more effective if no one in the movie even knows that there is a bomb.

Both generate a physiological response from the viewer, but with suspense the response is psychological (you might experience nervous jitters) while with surprise the response is physical (you might jump in your seat).

Here’s what the great Alfred Hitchcock had to say about surprise versus suspense, according to goodreads (SPOILER ALERT: he prefers suspense):

“There is a distinct difference between ’suspense’ and ‘surprise,’ and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean.  We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let’s suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one… In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed.”

Check out these two clips for a good example of the difference between the two.

Suspense clip from the Orson Welles classic TOUCH OF EVIL:

Surprise clip from the Jan de Bont action classic SPEED:

PREDATOR operates more in the realm of suspense, because we the audience knows that Dutch and company are being hunted long before they realize it.  Aside from the grisly reveal of the Jim Hopper and his crew, the film has very few true jump scares.  But there is plenty of tension generated as we can see that the Predator is watching the squad and closing in even though they can’t see him.  And even as we see the squad, and then later Dutch by himself, laying traps for the Predator, the suspense builds.  And later as Dutch and Predator are engaged in their game of cat-and-mouse, the suspense reaches its crescendo.

Further reading: The cast of PREDATOR, then and now