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Predator is the name of a classic movie, filmed in 1927 and staring Douglas Fairbanks. It has since been remade twice. The most famous remake was the 1987 version starring Arnold Schwarzenegger; less well known is the 1964, released to drive-in cinemas as Invisible Monsters á Go-Go.
The 1927 Version
The story of the original film The Predator, is quite an interesting one. A car belonging to legendary film producer Samuel L. Goldwyn was cut off in traffic by H. G. Wells, and Goldwyn decided to get his revenge by ripping off one of Wells' novels. He chose the War of the Worlds, a tale of invaders from another world who kill and consume human beings.
He set his scriptwriters to the task, but by the time their script was completed (some three hours later), Goldwyn had learned from his lawyers that he might be sued by Wells if the finished film was too close to the novel. However, they continued, if elements of War of the Worlds were ripped off and combined with elements of another story, then the film could proceed safely. In one of the genius moves that made him such a towering figure in film, Goldwyn decided to steal from another Wells story, the Invisible Man. In this way, he could sharpen his attack on Wells, whilst at the same time avoiding legal retribution.
From the start, Goldwyn wanted noted action-film idol Douglas Fairbanks to play lead character, Mr. Armand Dutchingson. However, Fairbanks worked for United Artists; he did not and never had worked for MGM. What's more, he personally despised Goldwyn, and declined MGMs offer with the words 'nuts to that durned puddin' head, Sam Goldwyn. He is no better than he should be.'
Taken aback by these strong words, Goldwyn was forced to take drastic measures, and incapacitated with a booby trapped movie fan, primed to explode when Fairbanks signed her autography book. Shooting began as soon as Douglas had recovered from his injuries. To prevent Douglas from using his swashbuckling powers to escape, all the other cast members were armed. As such, the setting of the film was moved to a guerilla-ridden stretch of South American jungle in order that there be a reason why everyone had a gun. The original script was set in the Vatican.
The other main part - that of the epynomious Predator - was also difficult to fill. The part was written with Lon Chaney in mind, but he was unavailable due to health concerns after he was beaten half to death by drunken Mounties who had mistaken him for Boris Karloff. Since the part required the actor to wear a mask and to be invisible for mutch of the picture, few name actors were interested. As such, the role went to disgraced former comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. The coveted part of "Poorly Characterised Platonic Love Interest #1" went to Clara Bow
The Plot - Red Sky at Night, Spoilers Take Flight!
In a distant South American jungle, the deadly Tiger Cult has been attacking American ivory dealers, and so the US government sends in a platoon of Marines under the command of Lt-Maj Armand Dutchingson. Also present are Mr. Fortesque Dillon (Wallace Beery) a spy, Sgt. Blaine Freudengun (Buster Crabbe), and comedy relief Negro, Washington Lincoln Jefferson (Al Jolson).
The group penetrate deeper into the jungle, fighting ferocious emus and springboks as they go. Soon, they discover the remains of some other American soldiers, who have been killed, skinned and made into some nice little pasties, the gamy quality of which has offset by skilful use of herbs.
Soon after, the group fights the Lion Cult, capturing their High Priestess, Poorly Characterised Platonic Love Interest #1. However, all is not as it seems. We begin to see shots of the marines from the Predator's point of view, shot in rotoscope. Meanwhile, Dutchingson confronts Dillon, who reveals that the real reason that they are in the jungle is to discover the mysterious invisible predator and capture it, so that it could be placed on public display at a licensed freak show.
There then follows three reels of people running through the jungle and shooting at things, as extras are killed in various gruesome ways. Finally, Dutchingson realises that he will only be able to defeat the monster if he can see it. Deftly swinging down from a tree, he throws a blanket over the creatures head. While it is trying to recover, he kicks it in the posterior. The now visible monster draws his rapier, and the two duel atop an Aztec pyramid. Meanwhile, Poorly Characterised Platonic Love Interest #1 has rigged the pyramid to explode, meaning to kill Dutchingson and the Predator, both. However, at the last minute she has a change of heart, and warns Dutchingson to get away. Though injured, the two are able to make it to the extraction point, where they are rescued by a USMC zeppelin.
- The use of rotoscope, a technique in which filmed human movements are drawn over to create animation, was pioneered in this movie. Just not very well.
- The Predator's last words, 'Mother of Mercy! Is this the end for Rico?' were later used in the film Little Caesar, starring Edward G. Robinson.
- When the third reel came out a minute short, it was padded with stock footage, including the assassination of Lincoln from The Birth of a Nation and the scene from Shoulder Arms in which Charlie Chaplin captures the Kaiser.
The film performed well at the box office, but most of the profits were eaten up by legal fees when Goldwyn attempted to sue Ancient Greek mathematician Archemedes of Syracuse on a variety of trumped up charges.
In 1964, famed B-movie director Roger Corman noticed that Predator's copyright had expired, and resolved to remake it.
'This is an important part of our cultural heritage,' he said, 'And a new generation deserves to see, yadda yadda yadda, someone round up Vincent Price and we'll get started.'
The remake was filmed with the drive-in market in mind, and included the first and only use of Makeoutvision; a tecnique whereby a caption reading 'Start Necking' appeared whenever the pace of the film slowed. A warning bell would ring whenever someone was about to die, warning the teens to start watching again. These features still exist upon the DVD version of the film, and critcs have said that they 'make a bad film completely unwatchable' citation needed.
The Plot - Red Sky of Morning, this is a Spoiler Warning
Corman took considerable liberties with the original, changing the setting to a small town in rural California. Dutchingson is now 'Dutch' a misunderstood but loveable teenager, and is played by some guy you've never heard of. Poorly Characterised Platonic Love Interest #1 is now Miss Betty Veronica, played by a young Elizabeth Montgomery. The character of Dillon is now the principal of the local high school, and the Predator is now the creation of a mad scientist. Vincent Price plays the scientist, and Tor Johnson plays the monster. In the end, the monster is defeated when it turns out to be vulnerable to some easily available and otherwise harmless substance.
- The American Association of Drive In Movie Operators
and Voyeursadvised its members not to show this film, as the annoying warning bell had lead to dozens of speakers being vandalised by teenagers who didn't like distractions.
- In the confrontation between Dutch and the Mad Scientist, Vicent price was supposed to say in a spooky voice 'You teenagers think you're the masters of the world! The top of the food chain! Well, I have news for you, young man; you are not. You are mere prey for... the Predator!' In fact he said in a spooky voice 'I will appear in any movie, no matter how bad! Right now, I am just going through the motions! Mu hoo hoo hoo ha ha ha!' How this ad lib remained in the final cut is a mystery that no one has yet been bothered to solve.
The 1987 film was originally planned as a straight remake of the 1927 version, merely updating the setting and special effects for the film's sixtieth anniversary. Producers were pleased when renowned pseudo-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger came aboard to play the part of Dutch.
However, part of Schwarzenegger 's deal with the studio was that he could choose the screenwriter. Schwarzenegger chose a British writer called Oscar Wilde. Calling the original film 'dreadfully vulgar', Wilde rewrote the script in its entirety, setting it in a house in London's fashionable West End.
Plot - Baby, I was Born to Spoil!
Sir William Dutch is invited to a party by Lord Dillon (Carl Weathers), in honour of the famous athlete, Sir Godfrey Blaine (Jesse "The Body" Ventura). However, no sooner have the canapes been served, when South American guerrillas kidnap a Guatamalan cabinet minister from amongst the guests. Dutch, Dillon and Blaine set out to recover the poor fellow, but are constantly under verbal attack from a superhumanly witty adversary, who moves invisibly and delivers stinging bon mots.
In spite of capturing one of the guerrillas, Doña Anna Maria Theresa de Montigo y Valesquez, our plucky heroes find themselves being worn down by the onslaught of puckish epigrams. In a desperate attempt to destroy their unseen taunter, Blaine produces the Giant Book of Insults, and blasts away with it, but only succeeds in slightly hurting the Predator's feelings.
In the film's climax, Dutch realises the Predator's weakness. As a gentleman, it is unable to think of anything clever to say about poor people. Dutch disguises himself as a Cockney eel-monger, and attacks the sensitive ears of the Predator with a barrage of misused London slang delivered in a Dick van Dyke style bad Cockney accent. The Predator dies of sheer mortification, thereby creating a nuclear explosion, which Dutch outruns. He is reunited with Doña Anna aboard a balloon.
- In a tribute to the original film, the pilot of the balloon is played by the embalmed corpse of Samuel Goldwyn.
- In order to create the illusion that Schwarzenegger can really talk, peanut butter was smeared on his gums. In removing it with his tounge and lips, he produced mouth movements, which were filmed and carefully synched with the voice of actor Allan Lane.
- In order to create final sequence in which most of London is devastated in a nuclear blast, producers set of a five-kiloton bomb in Prague. This explains why London landmarks such as Big Ben and the Tower Bridge cannot be seen silhouetted against the blast.
- One of the Beefeaters who has been flayed alive by the Predator's sharp tongue is played by Oscar Wilde himself. He ruins the effect somewhat by waving at the camera.
- Predator is a better film than Total Recall. Because shut up, that's why.