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Predator (1987) – DVD Review

Predator DVD cover art


Written by: Jim Thomas & John Thomas
Directed by: John McTiernan
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham


  • Running audio commentary by director McTiernan
  • Textual commentary compiled by film historian Eric Lichtenfeld
  • Deleted scene
  • Making-of docu
  • Behind the scenes featurettes
  • Outtakes
  • “Red suit” Predator effects shots
  • Predator camouflage tests
  • Photo gallery
  • Predator profile

Released by: Fox
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Fans should own.

[ad#longpost]Hostages have been taken and are being held at a very remote jungle location. As far as getting them out goes, the best man for the job is Dutch (Schwarzenegger) and his cadre of highly trained and specialized commando-types. They’ve been called in by an old buddy of Dutch’s, Dillon (Weathers), who now works for the CIA. As they get on the ground and start proceeding with the mission, everything’s not what it seems as far as their actual tasks go…and to make matters worse, there’s an enemy in the jungle that they can’t see. And this thing wants to make killing them all a tasty bit of sport.

A nice twist on the monster-picking-off-folks-one-by-one genre, in that the ones in question getting picked off are absolute badasses. It’s discussed in the special features where the Brothers Thomas came up with the idea, of the alien hunter going up against the most dangerous humans possible–and that’s a cool concept. However, what makes this film work is its ability to get you familiar with the characters, to build them up, let you know them and empathize with them, so that when the slaughter begins it’s so much more effective. This is first and foremost due to the script, which for an action flick is both smart and quick. It’s also due to the direction of McTiernan (this was his film before Die Hard) that gives us a nice balance of intelligence and blowing shit up.

But of course, you need a cast to work through this and make the characters live so that they can, naturally, stop breathing. Arnold, although he works well in his role, isn’t really the standout, covered in mud or no. It’s the rest of his squad that are impressive–that they are able to deliver full performances given how many people they’re sharing the screen with and what purpose they’re there to serve. From Shane Black’s wiseass jokes to Sonny Landham’s sheer physical presence to Bill Duke’s disturbingly quiet intensity…they’re just absolute badasses from jump, and that’s what makes the film. Without that, the flick wouldn’t have had a tenth of the shelf-life it has exhibited.

Arnold Schwarzenegger from Predator
Listen--do you smell something?

Fox delivers a solid special edition to ride the coattails of Aliens vs. Predator, pulling onto this side of the pond bonus features that were previously put out on a Region 2 release. But for the fan of the film, it’s worth plonking down the extra coin.

First up, there’s the two commentaries. McTiernan’s is everything an audio commentary should be, equal parts good humor, reminiscence, and background info. He discusses dealing with the cast, having to figure out how in the hell to work this wild alien business, and so forth. For the light to medium DVD-phile they’ll appreciate it. For the hardcore nuts and bolts types, there’s the text-based commentary, put together by film historian Lichtenfeld. Taking interviews with a slew of individuals involved with the production and pulling out the best bits to run at the bottom of the screen, it’s an ongoing barrage of information almost–almost–on a par with my favorite text commentary on The Abyss. It gets into the nitty gritty of things, but for those who dig such details, they’ll be in text heaven.

Red Suit effect shot from Predator

The deleted scene, which features more of Arnold running from the Predator, is nothing to write home about, I fear. Neither are the three outtakes provided. The making-of/retrospective docu is entertaining if nothing else. McTiernan’s appearances echo some of the information he provides in his commentary, but Weather, Duke and Black all provide very amusing anecdotes. There’s some smoke-blowing, yeah, to be expected–but it never makes your eyes water, let’s put it that way.

The featurettes cover a variety of topics, and they’re each fairly short. You get everything from a bit regarding the importance of camouflage and how it was used to distinguish the various characters to a tribute to Kevin Peter Hall, who was in the suit to play the Predator. Apart from the one that’s basically everybody praising Arnold, they’re all worthwhile. Especially of note is the one regardless Jesse Ventura’s weapon of choice, “Ol’ Painless,” the gatling gun.

More interesting are the effects shots. First, you’ve got some of the “red suit” shots discussed elsewhere on the disc. You get the see the “new” Predator in action as well as the goofy original alien version that looked like some kind of walking insectoid creature from I Married an Aphid or some cheesy 50s shit like that. You also get some of the camouflage test shots where they were working on how exactly to make the Predator “disappear.” So those are nice to have. The photo gallery is basic stuff, and last up you’ve got the Predator profile, which is basically a rundown of his gear and weapons.

For a fan of the film, even if they already own a previous version, this is worth picking up. Casual admirers should at least give it a rental.