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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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."