Predator
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FAQ for
Predator (1987) More at IMDbPro »

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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Predator can be found here.

What is 'Predator' about?

A team of elite commandos, led by Major Alan 'Dutch' Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), are dispatched into the Central American jungle, supposedly to rescue a Cabinet Minster presumed captured when his helicopter went down over enemy territory. Accompanied by CIA operative George Dillon (Carl Weathers), what they find is much more terrifying than any group of ruthless rebel guerrillas. Something invisible has been skinning the bodies of the Green Berets sent in previously as a covert surveillance team, and now the alien predator has begun to hunt Dutch's team.

No. Predator is based on a script by screenwriters Jim and John Thomas. The story goes that the Thomases wrote the screenplay after hearing a joke that Rocky Balboa had run out of earthly opponents and would need to fight an alien if a Rocky V movie was going to be made. Hence, they came up with a script for Predator. Two sequels, Predator 2 (1990) and Predators (2010) have followed. A spinoff movie, AVP: Alien vs. Predator, that unites the Predator with the creature from Alien (1979), was released in 2004, followed by a sequel, AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem, in 2007.

Going with simple labels for their roles in the team, not including Dutch or CIA liaison Dillon, there are five members on Dutch's Search-and-Rescue team: (1) Billy (Sonny Landham), Scout and Tracker; (2) Mac (Bill Duke), Sergeant, 2nd in command/Assault; (3) Poncho (Richard Chaves), Demolitions/Translator (possibly medic); (4) Hawkins (Shane Black), Radio Operator (possible medic); and (5) Blain (Jesse Ventura), Heavy Weapon Support.

Dutch's team is a search and rescue team, one of the best. Dillon being Dutch's friend knows he will see a mission through to the end. However the mission is a cover. The compound that the team goes to is a Guerrilla staging compound (with possible Soviet ties.) Dillon tells Dutch it is a rescue mission to get Dutch in as a replacement team as his last team (lead by Hopper) had disappeared. During the debriefing Dutch even tells the operations General they are a rescue team, not assassins, which is exactly what the team is being used for. Dutch is pissed at Dillon for using his friendship and taking advantage of him, especially at the end of the scene when Dillon pretty much tells him that all he was is a tool used for a job nothing more. Had Dillon admitted that they were going in to rescue his CIA agents, Dutch may have started to question what they were doing in the area in the first place and figured out Dillon's ulterior motive.

The Predator's reasons for skinning his victims and hanging them from trees is not explained in the movie. Dutch realizes that the Predator is a "hunter", and hunters will often gut and dress their prey while still in the field. Hunters are also known to cut off body parts, e.g., antlers, claws, fur, heads, etc., as trophies. Another reason that's been suggested is that the skinned bodies were deliberately left hanging as a warning to other humans in the area, either taunting them or letting them know that they are also being hunted. Another theory is that they do this to prey they consider unworthy to be trophies. As we see that when they actually take trophies, they simply rip the spinal cord out with the skull attached. But they leave the skinned bodies hanging upside down for others to find.

It is never explained in this movie but it clearly shows that it was the Predator's wrist-computer, because when Dutch fires his arrow he damaged the computer disabling his invisibility. However in Predator 2 it is explained that the Predators possess technology that allows them to bend light around themselves, making near "Perfect Camouflage" in the form of active camouflage.

In the very beginning of the movie, we see an alien ship fly past earth with a smaller ship departing from it and then descending into our atmosphere. As such, we must conclude that the Predator is an alien being from another world. When exactly this arrival occurred is not established, but we do know that it was either many years ago and the Predator has been living here ever since, or various Predators have come and gone over the years, e.g., the Jungle Predator may have visited Val Verde in the past and perhaps returned to find new game in the same location, since Predators often visits places where there is intense heat and conflict. This is evidenced when Anna (Elpidia Carrillo) states that when she was young, men in her village would turn up missing, and they would sometimes find them butchered, without their skins, or much much worse. They would refer to the unknown perpetrator of these killings as the "demon who makes trophies of man" and she also added that it would only happen during the hottest of summers. This statement implies that either the Predator, or various other Predators, would come to earth off and on over the years to hunt for a limited period of time, or there has only been a single Predator alone on earth over the years. If there was a single Predator, the absence of people from Anna's village being continuously killed, all year around, including every summer, very hot or not, is likely due to him moving around to hunt in different areas so he does not attract too much attention in a single area. But it is likely that he was only there for a limited time, as the more time he spends on Earth, the increased risk he would be discovered and his technology captured and exploited. Future films and stories show that the Predators come to hunt as part of a ritual but then return to their clan.

It's reasonable to assume that while Dutch was making preparations, so was the Predator. The laser designator is part of the creatures mask, so its a fair assumption what we see is some form of laser used to sharpen the blades which at the time were exposed from their sheath and glow red in response. The ability of the blades to widen is unrelated, they wouldn't be much of a hunting tool/weapon if they were not adaptable to varying size of prey.

Although the Predator displays only three of his trophies onscreen, we witness the deaths of all six of Dutch's team members, leaving many wondering what happened to the remaining skulls. It's very likely the Predator collected trophies from all six victims, but we simply do not see this. The skull with the hole in it is said to be Poncho's, as he was shot in the head. However, Poncho was shot in the left side of his head, while the hole is on the top of the skull, so this is either a goof or someone else. The others are unknown. One of them may have belonged to Billy, as we witness the Predator rip Billy's spine from his back and clean his skull, and the other was probably Dillon's as he put up the biggest fight besides Dutch and Billy. It has been speculated that one of the other skulls may have been Blain's since the Predator entered the squad's camp to retrieve his body but it also retrieved the body of Hawkins for the sole purpose of stringing him up in a tree.

Some believe the skull with the exit hole was Mac's because initially it appears that Mac is shot in the head. Also he is the only member of the team besides Dutch to injure the Predator. But in the brief shot of him laying on his back when Dillon finds him, you can clearly see he has a big hole in his chest, yet his head is unmarked. This is likely another continuity error in the movie, where the crew may had filmed a portion of this scene already and changed the set-up for the second part, creating a goof. Some say that the angle from which he was shot created an exit wound through the back of his neck, and this, combined with the camera angle on his death, gives the appearance that the blood bursts from his head. However, when freeze-framing Mac's death scene, the blood can definitely be seen coming from Mac's forehead, not his neck. After his body falls down, his leg can be seen twitching, which also seems more compatible with brain trauma (because a shot through the chest and neck would likely sever the spinal cord, so the legs would no longer be able to receive nerve impulses from the brain). Also, it is possible that the three trophies that are displayed belonged to Jim Hopper's men. As we only see three of Hopper's men strung up and skinned. Therefore he may have kept Dutch's team mates somewhere else.

No. The log was a counterweight for a spike trap Dutch had set up. He had cut wooden stakes and tied them to a log over the top of a ditch, and set a trip wire under it. The wire was tied to the log. The idea was that when the Predator tripped the wire, he'd be hoisted up and slammed into the spikes. When Dutch tried to sucker him into it, he almost fell for it, but saw the spikes at the last second and went around. Unfortunately for him, he stopped and stood over Dutch directly under the log counterweight, so Dutch tripped the trap himself, dropping the log on the Predator and disabling him.

In the films, the official name of the characters are simply "The Predators." However, in the spin off expanded universe consisting of comics, novels, video games and other media, the names "Yautja" and "Hish" are alternatively used.

Dillon, Dutch and his team assumed that the Guerilla Rebels disembowled and skinned Jim Hopper and his men, when in fact it was the Predator.

No, they were skinned and hung upside down, but they were not made in to trophies. It's possible that the Predator does this to victims he finds unworthy to be trophies. As he witnessed Dutch's small team manage to take out an entire platoon of soldiers, he may have found each of them to be worthy of trophies. Although we only see the bodies of 3 of Hopper's men and Dutch asks Billy what happened to the rest of Hopper's men. Billy replies "There's no sign, sir. They never left here. Hell, it's like they just disappeared." so it's possible the Predator took the rest as trophies. Perhaps they put up more of a fight than the other 3. Something similar happens in Predator 2, when the Predator kills the Colombians, train car passengers and Jamaicans in the apartment he only takes one trophy from the Colombians and none from the Jamaicans in the apartment. Yet it takes trophies from Harrigan's team members and King Willie. In the scene where King Willy meets the Predator, he draws a sword from the staff/cane he carries. Likewise, the Predator appears to extend its gauntlet blades in response. It's possible that a scene was supposed to follow where Willy and the Predator engaged in combat with their edged weapons and Willy would lose or the writers were just relying on the audience to figure out that part since Willy obviously DOES lose. In the end, the alien must have thought Willy to be a worthy opponent and walked off with his head, making a trophy out of his skull.

The first person killed by the Predator's shoulder cannon (aka plasmacaster) was Blaine. He is shot from a far distance and hit in the back, which leaves an exit wound the size of a basketball in his chest. There is something of a continuity error at the moment he's hit; a splash of blood hits him in the neck and back of the head. One theory is that the Predator initially fired a different weapon that missed Blaine, and the Predator then switched to the Shoulder Cannon. In scenes where characters are supposed to be splashed with fluids like blood, a small gun of sorts (often nicknamed a "guacamole gun") is placed off camera and the fluid is shot onto the actor or stunt person. The production crew & director probably shot the blood onto Jesse Ventura thinking they'd shoot further enhancements to the scene showing a different action taking place.

Next killed was Mac, he is shot at close range in the chest (continuity shows him shot in the head, but his body is shown to have his head intact and his chest with the wound) the wound in his chest is relatively small, we never see the exit wound. Third hit with the cannon is Dillon, the Predator is perched on a tree branch and fires at Dillon, hitting him in the arm, completely severing it. Finally, Poncho is shot in the left side of the forehead and there seems to be very minimal damage, though he is killed, there is no exit wound, and there's minimal blood shown. It's possible that the predator, being so close to Pancho and wanting his skull for a trophy, reduced the power of the cannon so as to cause less damage.

Then Dutch is hit in the shoulder, if one watches the scene in slow motion you can see that the blast hits the M16 assault rifle which Dutch is carrying, the gun can clearly been seen being blasted in to two separate pieces. There is a large burst of blood from his arm, he is knocked backwards, yet we see he has a minor 3 inch cut on his arm. So it's possible he was hit in the shoulder by shrapnel. Some theories are: (1) The Predator's weapon has different charged bursts. The longer it charges, the more powerful the damage. (supported in many of the video games), and (2) The energy emitted from the cannon gathers more energy as it travels. The farther the distance it has to travel the more powerful it becomes. (supported by the larger wounds being suffered when fired from a farther distance). Note, however, that the concept of what exactly constitutes the Predator creature was changed part way through production. The original creature was shorter and more of a cross between an insect and a lizard that carried a spear gun-like weapon that can be seen hitting Blaine in the shoulder right before he turns and is shot in the back. Much of the film was shot with the original creature in mind, so this could explain the inconsistencies in the wounds.

Simply put, yes they can. In every Predator film; the Predators all have their masks removed for extended periods of time and seem to have no difficulty breathing, not to mention being able to howl, growl and roar. The City Hunter from Predator 2 was without its mask for almost the entire third act of the film, but it was also shown to have a small device it put over its mouth and took three or four deep breaths. After this, the device is never used again. It was likely because City Hunter was severely wounded (after Harrigan shoots him with a shotgun several times) and was either having difficulty breathing or the mask held a sort of stimulant to keep him going until he was able to treat his wounds. Another point is when Harrigan is on board the Predator's ship at the end of Predator 2, he is able to breathe perfectly fine and the Elder Predator didn't have his mask on. Therefore they were both breathing oxygen. It seems to be a common misconception that the Predator's mask is used for breathing, yet no other part of their equipment shows to be air tanks (though this doesn't rule out the possibility that the mask uses some sort of air-filtration unit) * The mask is part of the overall weapons unit and is connected to the plasma cannon, the targeting lasers (3-points) and the forearm console (weapons, final bomb and the invisibility camouflage) and is a head-worn control mechanism, similar to Ironmans helmet controlling his weapons and flight.

How does the movie end?

Dutch picks up a rock with the intention of finishing off the Predator, but it's obvious that he is already dying. He also reflects on the fact that the Predator is a living creature, (which is now clearly in much pain), and ponders whether it's right to kill him out of vengeance. "What the hell are you?" Dutch asks rhetorically, and the Predator mimics the same question..."What the hell are you?" He then starts to laugh and to press some buttons on his wristband, as if to detonate a bomb. Dutch realizes that the Predator has started a countdown to his own suicide and gets out of there as quickly as possible. Suddenly, the whole area explodes in a mushroom cloud, attracting the attention of the rescue helicopter. In the final scenes, the copter picks up Dutch and carries him out of the jungle.

According to different sources like Melonfarmers and the German OFDB the first UK DVD releases of Predator feature the old German VHS version of the movie which had been cut in several scenes. As per Melonfarmers this concerns the UK DVD releases from 2001 and 2003. All other UK DVD releases are uncensored, including the Blu-ray release. The BBFC has nothing to do with the cuts, because the old BBFC 18 VHS had been released uncut without any censorship. Most likely it was a mistake by 20th Century Fox where they took the wrong master. Approx. 37 seconds are missing in this releases. A detailed comparison between both versions with pictures can be found here.

Page last updated by bj_kuehl, 4 months ago
Top 5 Contributors: TiffJobs, Bernnard_Black, !!!deleted!!! (2011934), Field78, bj_kuehl

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