"Me too. Mine's as big as a house."
To this day, Predator holds a special place in my heart. It was the first R-rated movie I was allowed to see (for some reason, according to my mom, watching a seven-foot alien blow out Jessie "The Body" Ventura's guts was okay, but watching Freddy Krueger diddle someone with his bladed hand would lead to me killing neighborhood pets). Up until that point, there had been a divide in my life: On one side of it, kids lucky enough to have HBO waiting for them at home, bringing with it a non-stop stream of Jason Voorhees murders and the bare nipples of countless 80's comedies, and on the other side, me, forced to make do with Growing Pains reruns and a VHS copy of Flight of the Navigator I had taped off of the Disney Channel. With Predator, the Berlin Wall of PG-13 tumbled down. Finally, I was able to talk a movie's dirty jokes and violent scenes with my classmates on the playground. I'm not going to act like I was suddenly the class pimp because of Predator, but I was now at least cooler than the Amish kids and the guy with the cleft palate.
Fast forward almost two decades. While walking through Costco, I saw a DVD copy of Predator which included free passes to Alien vs. Predator, a movie I was planning on seeing later that week. I had been on a real sci-fi kick at the time, watching Aliens multiple times a day (I had to do something when taking breaks from porking supermodels on top of piles of blood diamonds), so I figured, "What the hell?" and purchased it. While AvP turned out to be a gigantic abortion of a film that would have been less humiliating to both franchises if it were two hours of guys in Predator and Alien masks fucking the living shit out of each other, the original Predator, which I watched immediately after coming back from the theater to wash the taste of AvP out of my mouth, revealed itself to somehow be even better than I remembered. I have watched Predator countless times since buying it on DVD, and have come before you today to make the case that it is, without a doubt, the manliest movie ever made.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, goes further to prove my thesis than the cast assembled to play the heroes of Predator. For starters, you have the Übermensch himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of my greatest heroes in life.Laugh it up because he's got a war criminal's accent and his (now ex) wife looks like Skeletor,
but the guy is rich, famous, could punch right through you with a single blow, banged his way into the Kennedy clan and is responsible for this footage, which defies anyone's ability to verbally convey its greatness. Then you've got Carl Weathers aka Apollo Creed, one of only two men to ever take down Rocky Balboa, as well as Jesse 'The Body' Ventura and Sonny Landham, a hulking Native American who started his career in porn and was so unstable on the film's set that a bodyguard was hired to protect other people from him. (I've linked you to a picture of Sonny about to get head from a chick in a lobster bib. Though I'm certain I'd be unable to maintain an erection while staring at a picture of a cartoon lobster, I have to admit that the idea of a bj bib is genius in theory. Perhaps have it depict a bull's-eye or a third breast? Thoughts for another day.) Even the runt of the cast, Shane Black, spent his junior year at high school putting on 75 pounds of muscle and setting lifting records at his school. When he's pussy of the group, you know you're in good hands.
Not many people know this, but Jean-Claude Van Damme (seen here, apparently able to manipulate the tides with a fart) was originally cast as the Predator. In any normal flick, The Muscles from Brussels would be more than able to hold his own. But Predator is no ordinary film, and it only took a matter of days for the film's director to realize that the cast of heroes he'd assembled was too goddamn beefy to be intimidated by any sort of Van Damage that could be inflicted upon them by Jean. Out he went to be replaced by Kevin Peter Hall, a 7' 2" titan who had just played a sasquatch in Harry and the Hendersons. That bears repeating:It took a man who could convincingly portray goddamn Bigfoot to make the grade as the villain of this masterwork. Tragically, only a few years after making Predator and its sequel, Kevin passed away after battling AIDS. The official story is that he contracted it via a contaminated blood transfusion, but I'm convinced that's just a line he fed his wife, and he actually got it nailing countless Predator groupies who all no doubt insisted that he wear the mask as he did them. Rest in peace, sir.
THE MAKING OF
Predator is known for its amazingly lush jungle backdrop. Of course, the film predates the heavy use of computer graphics in movies by many years, meaning that, to achieve the look of being in a jungle, they shot the movie in a goddamn jungle. The actors performed in frigid conditions (I always assumed jungles were hot, but, apparently, this isn't the case. Does that make me a racist? I'm not even sure anymore), and any water you see in the film was leech-filled and stagnant as a bum's asshole. Did this deter the cast? Hell no! According to Carl Weathers, they woke up at 3 am every day to pump iron (though he himself would only lift after everyone else had left in an attempt to convince everyone his physique was natural). I don't know about you, but the thought of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura benching 455 pounds in a makeshift gym in the jungle makes me realize that, while I'm technically a man, it's in the same way that curling is technically a sport.
So there you have it: My case for Predator being the manliest shit ever. Just do yourself a favor and watch the film again. It really is one of my all-time favorites. I could watch a silverback gorilla snatch a great white shark out of the water and throw it like a spear through the side of a rampaging bull elephant and I'd still think, "Well, that was manly, but it wasn't Predator manly." That's gotta count for something.
Up next: Interview with Mel Gibson