Jesse Ventura was delighted to find out from the wardrobe department that his arms were one inch bigger than Arnold Schwarzenegger's. He suggested to Schwarzenegger that they measure arms, with the winner gets a bottle of champagne. Ventura lost, because Schwarzenegger had told the wardrobe department to tell Ventura that his arms were bigger.
The film provided a variety of hardships for the actors, such as leeches, snakes, stifling humidity, heat, and rough terrain. All of the night scenes were filmed during freezing cold temperatures, which was especially hard on Arnold Schwarzenegger during the latter half of the film, when the mud he had to wear (actually pottery clay) became cold and wet. He was warned it would take his body temperature down a few degrees, and he shivered non-stop, even when they tried to heat him with lamps (it just made the clay dry out). He tried drinking jagertee, a schnapps mixture, to warm him, but that just got him drunk.
Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally cast to play the Predator the idea being that the physical action star would use his martial arts to make the Predator an agile, ninja-Raquel Hunter,but he was dropped for being too short, at 5'9", Arnold Schwarzenegger and his team are bodybuilders who are between 6'2" and 6'5". Additionally it was reported that Jean-Claude Van Damme constantly complained about the monster suit being too hot, causing him to pass out. He also had allegedly voiced his reservations on numerous occasions regarding the fact he would not be appearing on camera without the suit. Additionally the original design for the Predator was felt to be too cumbersome and difficult to manage in the jungle and, even with a more imposing actor was felt to not provoke enough fear. Van Damme was removed from the film and replaced by Kevin Peter Hall.
The Predator was first designed by a special effects company the studio picked to save money. Stan Winston later created the Predator for 1.5 million dollars. This other studio charged half that amount. Because of that, their Predator looked like someone in a lizard suit, with the head of a duck, according to Arnold Schwarzenegger. When Winston was brought in to redesign the Predator, the final fight scene had to be re-shot. The new Predator was 8-1/2 feet tall, but the re-cast Kevin Peter Hall was 7'2". The costume was heavy and off-balance, and Hall couldn't see with the mask on. Because of that, during the fight scene with Dutch, he actually did hit Schwarzenegger once.
Part of the shoot was forty-eight hours before Arnold Schwarzenegger's wedding rehearsal dinner. Jesse Ventura teased him about his nuptials, often ruining takes; John McTiernan was not amused. Schwarzenegger missed the final preparation, and Maria Shriver was not happy about that, because his mind was more on the film, instead of their wedding.
The weapon that Blain (Jesse Ventura) is using is a minigun. This is a weapon most commonly mounted on the side of a helicopter (or an aircraft carrier) and many, many modifications had to be made to make it usable in the film. It was powered via an electrical cable hidden down the front of Blain's trousers. The firing rate was slowed down to approximately one-third the normal rate of fire, both to reduce consumption of blanks, and to make the spinning of the barrels visible on film. It is rumored that Ventura had to wear a bulletproof vest, because of the forceful ejection of spent cartridges, but this is false. Unmodified miniguns eject out of the bottom, with the cases essentially falling out, due to gravity. Close examination of the film, especially the scene in which Mac fires the minigun at the fleeing predator, along with the other commandos, show that the ejection of the minigun was not changed.
Peter Cullen was reluctant to take the job of voicing the Predator, as he injured his throat playing the title character of King Kong (1976), but eventually accepted, after seeing a picture of the unmasked creature.
The famous clicking and gurgling sound, the Predator makes throughout the movie, was thought up by Peter Cullen. After the producers approached him to give the Predator "a voice", he was taken aback, because he had no idea what something like that was suppose to sound like, not to mention that the producers were reluctant to show what the character was finally going to look like, they relented, and Cullen, who thought the Predator creature resembled a "horseshoe crab", remembered as a kid, how if you turned one over, they would "gurgle", and that became the Predator's "sound".
The Sound Editors called the Predator's shoulder gun, the "Parrot Gun", because when it moved independent of the Predator while aiming, it reminded them of "Peter Sellers with a rubber parrot on his shoulder."
Shane Black hated the glasses he was given to wear as Hawkins. He wanted to wear authentic military-issue ballistic glasses, worn by actual troops in the field, but John McTiernan wanted him to look as geeky as possible.
Due to health and safety regulations, Arnold Schwarzenegger was not allowed to light his cigar inside the helicopter near the beginning of the film. As a result the glow was added optically in post-production.
Because this was the first Predator movie, only the thermal vision and infrared vision was shown from the Predator's point of view (Predator 2 (1990) introduced many other vision modes for the Predator), but with good attention to details, you can get hints that the Predator has different vision modes, even in this movie; The Predator can obviously see, and avoid the trip wires that are hidden everywhere in the forest (which would actually not be visible if the Predator only used thermal vision). The Predator can also see if the soldiers are carrying any kind of weapons, or knives, and if they are unarmed, indicating the Predator has a different vision mode, which makes him able to detect solid metal.
Hawkins was originally supposed to wear a distinctive red beret, most likely inspired by the U.S. Army's maroon airborne berets, worn by American paratroopers. Shane Black refused to wear it, as he thought it would look ridiculous in the jungle. He later regretted the decision, as he felt it would have made his character stand out.
The studio would not allow John McTiernan to shoot this film in anamorphic widescreen, due to the complexities of the optical effects. As a sly sort of retaliation, he added an anamorphic version of the film's opening 20th Century Fox logo, which looks noticeably stretched on-screen.
Most of the cast and crew suffered from traveller's diarrhea, since the Mexican hotel, in which they were living, was having problems with water purification. The only ones who didn't get sick, were Arnold Schwarzenegger and John McTiernan.
In an interview, Carl Weathers said the actors would secretly wake up, as early as 3:00 a.m., to work out before the day's shooting. Weathers also stated that he would act as if his physique was naturally given to him, and would work out only after the other actors were nowhere to be seen.
Aliens (1986) was Jim Thomas and John Thomas's major inspiration behind this movie and Predator 2 (1990). This later led to the crossover "Alien Vs. Predator" comic books, video games, action figures and two "Alien Vs. Predator" feature films released in 2004 and 2007.
The studio's insurance company would not agree to insure the production, unless a bodyguard was hired for Sonny Landham (Billy) for the sole purpose of protecting people from Sonny. The bodyguard followed Sonny around everywhere, to ensure that Sonny didn't get into a fight, since he was well known to be a very violent, and short tempered, actor.
Carl Weathers joked in an interview, that Arnold Schwarzenegger got him addicted to cigar smoking during filming. Arnold, famous for smoking cigars, offered Weathers to smoke one, who initially declined, because he was a non-smoker from his pro-football player days, but eventually gave in. Once he tried it, Arnold gave him an entire box full of cigars. Weathers ended this part of the interview by looking to the camera and cheerfully declaring "Shame on you Arnold! Shame on you!"
Maria Shriver discussed decoration plans concerning her and Arnold Schwarzenegger's new house with him over the phone, during filming. She later spent a couple of days on the set in Mexico. The stunt crew played a practical joke on the newly married couple, by putting frogs in their shower.
Two of the actors portraying commandos besieged by the Predator have been elected to state governorships: Jesse Ventura (Independent) was elected Governor of Minnesota in 1998, and Arnold Schwarzenegger (Republican) was elected Governor of California in a hotly-contested recall election in 2003. In addition, Sonny Landham (Republican) ran an unsuccessful campaign for Governor of Kentucky in 2003. Landham and Ventura also sought to enter the Senate in 2008 in their states as, respectively, a Libertarian and an Independent. Both dropped out.
The map General Phillips uses to brief Dutch, is a map of Brazil. The area that the map shows, is a region known as "cerrado biome", in core areas with small and medium trees, wooded savanna, and gramineous-woody savanna. Given that, the big tropical forests with deep ravines and huge trees are geographically incorrect, once that featured region on the map is called Chapada das Mangabeiras, in the plateaus in the center of Brazil. This point is rendered moot, however, by the fact that the countries, in which the film takes place, are never identified in the course of the movie.
Kevin Peter Hall stated in an interview, that his experience on the film, "wasn't a movie, it was a survival story for all of us." For example, in the scene where the Predator chases Dutch, the water was foul, stagnant, and full of leeches.
Third film in which Arnold Schwarzenegger wears a Seiko model H558-5009 diver's watch. Since nicknamed "The Arnold", it is highly sought-after by collectors, and regularly trades for values in excess of its original retail cost. Its distinctive black collar and stainless steel fittings, suitably complements Schwarzenegger's exaggerated arm muscles in his early films.
The original "Hunter" model was a large creature with a long neck, a head shaped like a dog, and one big eye in the middle. This can be seen on the camouflage demo's on the DVD. It was only when Stan Winston moved in, that the complete design of the "Predator" changed, along with the title.
Although they were never mentioned in the final film, the full names of the main characters in the original script Were Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer, Staff Sergeant George Dillon, Sergeant Mac Eliot, Sergeant Blain Cooper, Sergeant Billy Sole, Corporal Poncho Ramirez, and Corporal Rick Hawkins.
John McTiernan and Arnold Schwarzenegger lost twenty-five pounds during filming. Schwarzenegger's weight loss was a professional choice. McTiernan lost the weight, because he avoided the food in Mexico, due to health concerns unlike McTiernan most of the cast and crew sufferes from travelers diarrhea since the Mexican hotel in which they were living was having problems with the water purification. In an interview, Carl Weathers said the actors would secretly wake up as early as 3 a.m. to work out before the day shooting, Weather's also stated that he would act as if his physique was naturally given to him, and would work out only after the other actors were nowhere to be seen.
John McTiernan was keen to make the comrade banter between the soldiers as real as possible. To help this along, the cast trained together on-location with weapons, fitness and a military training regiment, that started at 6 a.m. every day, and included the use of communication with the silent, military hand signals that we see so much in the movie. He stated that "even though many of the cast had military backgrounds", he "wanted them all to get a chance to know each other, develop as a group, and endure something rough, and conquer it together."
It is alleged, that in the early '90s, the Department of Defense tested a form of camouflage that used millions of fibre-optic cables to "mirror" the opposite side of the object that is wanting to be hidden. They got the idea from this movie and Predator 2 (1990). The first time that people see the Predator in his cloak, he is reaching for the foot of one of Arnold's guys that just got wasted. The idea behind the camouflage, was not to appear invisible, but to replicate what is on the opposite side. In the Department of Defense's test footage, when you look at the person wearing the camo (fiber-optic sheet), he or she simply appeared to look like a heat wave.
Joel Hynek, a Special Effects Supervisor, who directed the design of the Predator's camouflage effect, is the son of J. Allen Hynek Ph.D., who originated the "Close Encounter" hierarchy for categorizing interactions with aliens. Dr. Hynek was a Professor of Astronomy at Northwestern University.
Most of film was shot under the original title "Hunter", it was only later when the creature design was changed, that the movie became "Predator". The clapperboards, showing the original title, can be seen in the outtakes on the Special Edition DVD.
During the closing credits, Shane Black is seen prominently displaying a copy of Sgt. Rock #408 (Feb. 1986). In the DVD commentary, John McTiernan notes that at the time, Arnold Schwarzenegger had an adaptation of Sgt. Rock in production, and that's why the comics were on-set, so he could read them. He described the scene where Dutch (Schwarzenegger) walks up to Billy (Sonny Landham), who senses the Predator's presence out in the bush, as a "Sgt. Rock moment".
In the scene where the Special Forces team attack the village, the guerrilla, who gets blown up in the van, is played by Henry Kingi. Kingi would play Colombian Scorpions member "El Scorpio" in Predator 2 (1990).
The Predator costume weighed over two hundred pounds, and even though 7'2" Kevin Peter Hall was a large and powerful man, he had to be connected to a "bungie" rig, to enable him to move more believably.
Two waterfalls are used in the climax of the movie, both near Palenque, Mexico. The first is Misol Ha, just outside the village (beginning and end of the sequence), and the other is Agua Azul about an hour's drive away (the middle part of the sequence).
When the film was broadcast on ITV in the UK in 1991, some violent scenes in the film, and bad language, were cut for censorship, and for time: Mac warning Dillon that he'll bleed him, if he gives up his position again. The severing of Dillon's right arm, and his demise. The Predator ripping out Billy's skull and spine, and Dutch calling the Predator "One Ugly Motherfucker" when The Predator removes his mask.
Originally the Jungle Hunter Predator had a very different much more elaborate Bio-Mask designed to mimic the creatures tribal aesthetic however Producer Joel Silver reportedly "hated it instantly" complaining that the complex design would lessen the effect when the Predator finally removes the mask to reveal its face. As a result, it was redesigned to be far more simple and plain. The original rejected mask prop was later reused for a hunter in Predator 2 (1990) and would go on to inspire the masks worn by Celtic in Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Scarface in the video game Predator:Concrete Jungle (2005). Several other pieces of the Jungle hunter outfit where similarly reuse for the ending of Predator 2 the body suit was recycled for Predator Elder Greyback while the Bio-Mask actually used in the first film was given to a Scout Predator.
The Predators head was built as a separate piece, and a total of 3 were created for the film,a "hero" head that was capable of facial articulation, a static stunt head and a head that was completely open at the front for use in scenes where the Predator is wearing its mask. The animatronic face on the hero head was controlled by a set of 9 servomotors that enabled motion of the brow area and mandibles, as well as "a cheek squint", an additional external servomotor was added later, hidden in the creatures backpack, to move the lower mandibles, which previously did not open as widely as intended. Kevin Peter Hall was able to puppeteer the creature's mouth with his own jaw, and wore contact lenses to finish the effect.
The invisibility cloaking effect was achieved by having someone wearing a bright red suit (because it was the farthest opposite of the green of the jungle and the blue of the sky) the size of the Predator. The red was removed with chroma key techniques leaving an empty area. The take was then repeated without the actors using a 30% wider lens on the camera. When the two takes were combined optically, the jungle from the second take filled in the empty area. Because the second take was filmed with a wider lens, a vague outline of the alien could be seen with the background scenery bending around its shape.
Jesse Ventura (Blain) became the first actor ever to fire the M134 Minigun handheld, several actors have since joined this statistic, including fellow Predator star Arnold Schwarzenegger (Dutch) in Terminator 2 Judgment Day (1991) and Oleg Taktarov in Predators (2010)
The real life Goblin spider species Predatoroonops blain is named after Blain Cooper; every member of the Predatoroonops genus has a name that references Predator, due to the perceived similarity between the spiders mouthparts and the Predators mandibles.
Rumors persist that Billy's death was originally filmed but cut from the movie because it was too violent; this is completely false, as Billy's demise was always intended to occur off-screen with his scream being the only indication of what happened to him. The sequence is similar to King Willie's death in Predator 2 (1990) whereby viewers see the build-up to the fight and it's aftermath, yet the battle itself occurs offscreen.
Billy seems to have a sixth sense regarding the Predator, in the novelization however his powers go even further and he is said to be actively psychic, able to access the memories of his ancestors and the ancient Mayans who used to live in the jungle and can actively sense the Predators presence.
Poncho's grenade launcher is an entirely fictional design, it was custom built out of parts from a Heckler & Koch HK94 (mainly the stock and pistol grip) and a six shot AN-M5 aircraft pyrotechnic discharger (a 37mm flare launcher).
Dillon points out that both he and Dutch have lighters of some personal significance, while it's never clarified in the film, The novel states they obtained the lighters while part of a commando unit operating in Thailand.
The Predator/Prey Pack DLC for the video game Mortal Kombat X adds an alternate costume for the character Jax named "Carl Weathers" which has him gain Al Dillon's attire from Predator the alternate skin also replaces Jax's default dialogue with new dialogue recorded by Carl Weathers, additionally selecting the "Carl Weathers" skin for Jax and playing against Johnny Cage in the "Commando" skin will unlock a special loading screen in which Johnny Cage exclaims "You son of a Bitch" before he and Jax recreate the famous handshake between Weathers and Schwarzenegger from the beginning of Predator.
The Walther PP pistol used by Anna is likely intended to stand in for the Makarov PM pistol, which looks somewhat similar and would be appropriate for a guerrilla force being supplied by the Soviet Union.
Several weapons were proposed for the Predator but cut from the finished film, including a speargun (a projectile from which is glimpsed very briefly wounding Blain before he is killed) and a spear- these later resurfaced as the Speargun and the Combistick in Predator 2 (1990) another weapon designed for the creature, but not recycled in the second movie was a sword. Two swords were built from fiberglass and the weapon was actually incorporated into the first test suit, sheathed inside the Predators backpack. However it was removed when it was found the creatures head caught on the handle when Kevin Peter Hall turned to look around.
In the novelization of the film, The Predator is very different from the creature that appeared in the movie. In the book it is a shape-shifter, able to mimic any form it chooses just the slightest physical contact, and even capable of dissipating entirely, vanishing and becoming part of the blowing breeze. And its basic form it is a tall humanoid creature with crimson scaly skin and three fingered hands. It's only weapons are a telescoping spear that it throws (incidentally similar to the combistick from Predator 2) and a static spider web-like trap capable of shredding anything caught in it (similar to the net fired by the Netgun in Predator 2) instead of a cloak, the predator uses its shape-shifting ability and chameleon-like skin to hide the Predator is also able to possess any animal its chooses (but not humans, one of the reasons it is so interested in them.) It's blood is translucent and amber in color instead of green, although it still glows at night. The Predator does not kill men for sport, but rather out of curiosity; the way it horrifically mutilates its prey is merely an attempt to study and better understand humans. It does however keep trophies taken from those that it kills on board its ship.
Additional visual effects, mainly for the opening title sequence of the Predator arriving on Earth, where supplied by Dream-Quest Images (Later Oscar winners for their work on The Abyss (1989) and Total Recall (1990).
Dutch covers himself in mud to screen his body heat, and then hides in a tree to ambush the Predator. In the Christopher Pike novel, The Eternal Dawn, the lead character Alisa, who is a vampire, does the same with an unknown assailant, except with leaves as well.
During a confrontation scene with Dillon, Dutch mentioned that his crew were "not expendables". As of 2014, none of the actors who played Dutch's crew appeared in any of the three Expendables film unlike Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who appeared in all of them.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The black helicopter pilot seen at the end of the movie is Kevin Peter Hall, the actor who plays the Predator. John McTiernan gave him the brief on-screen role, because his "work as Predator was so exhausting."