PREDATOR – 1987

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You are about to witness the birth of Six Degrees of Schwarzenegger, the podcast focusing on our favorite films from the golden era of action movies.  For our very first movie, we selected the 1987 classic PREDATOR, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers and directed by John McTiernan.  PREDATOR tells the story of a group of elite soldiers who find themselves the target of an extraterrestrial hunter. 

The Movie

PREDATOR Podcast movie poster

PREDATOR was an easy choice for our very first film to dissect in this podcast because it represents everything that made the “Arnold Schwarzenegger Era” of action movies so amazing.  First of all, it has Arnold – the best to ever do it.  Second of all, everything is over the top: the action, the guns, and of course the machismo.  And third of all, there are basically no rules.  Who says guys don’t greet each other by arm-wrestling?  Who says you can’t drop an alien into a war movie?  Who says a man can’t carry a gun meant to be mounted on a helicopter?  And who says one of the most iconic movie monsters of all time can’t wear dreadlocks and fishnets?

Over the course of ten podcast episodes, we are going to explore every aspect of this action movie classic in obsessed fanboy detail.  And we’ll have a few guest podcasters join us along the way.

 

The Men

PREDATOR Podcast cast photo

From Left: Shane Black, Sonny Landham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Chaves (kneeling), Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura

PREDATOR is the movie that took Arnold Schwarzenegger from musclebound strongman to global movie superstar.  Sure, he’d had notable success with CONAN THE BARBARIAN and THE TERMINATOR, but neither of those films gave Schwarzenegger the opportunity to showcase his magnetic charisma and surprising acting range.  True Arnold connoisseurs can separate Arnold’s career into three phases: pre-PREDATOR, PREDATOR to Governator, and post-Governator.

PREDATOR saw Arnold acting alongside action movie veteran Carl Weathers (the ROCKY franchise and ACTION JACKSON), Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura (THE RUNNING MAN), Sonny Landham (48 HRS), and Shane Black (screenwriter of LETHAL WEAPON and THE LAST BOY SCOUT).

Behind the camera was John McTiernan, directing his first major motion picture.  He followed PREDATOR in 1988 with DIE HARD.  (Has a director ever strung together two better action movies back to back?  It’s debatable, James Cameron put out THE TERMINATOR and ALIENS back-to-back.)  Stan Winston (JURASSIC PARK and IRON MAN) created the Predator creature design with assists from James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger himself.

 

The Myth

Back in 1985, PREDATOR began its unlikely journey to action genre titan as a Hollywood insider joke.  ROCKY IV had just come out, and the joke around town was that Rocky Balboa was running out of human opponents to fight and would have to fight an alien in the next sequel.  Screenwriting brothers Jim and John Thomas took that idea literally and (most likely after several drinks) developed a screenplay that would become ultimately become the classic PREDATOR.

The stories from the set of PREDATOR are also larger than life.  Whether it’s Arnold enlisting the wardrobe department to help trick Jesse Venture into thinking he had the bigger arms, or the studio requiring bodyguard to protect the rest of the world from Sonny Landham, the behind the scenes tales are as epic as movie itself. 

And we could not thoroughly explore PREDATOR without mentioning the role Jean-Claude Van Damme played (or didn’t play) in its production.  It’s just a footnote in the history of PREDATOR but one we will explore in detail.

Speaking personally, PREDATOR came out during our formative years when it was still taboo to watch something as scandalous as an R-rated movie.  Sneaking into the theater or sitting 10 inches from the TV and watching quietly after mom and dad had gone to bed may have been involved…  The story, the action, and the one-liners of this film hold a special place in both of our memories, and we are thrilled to be able to take a deeper look at the film in the very first series of our podcast Six Degrees of Schwarzenegger.

So “GET TO THE CHOPPER!” and hang on tight because things could get a little bumpy!

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