News regarding Shane Black’s Predator reboot, The Predator, has slowed to a trickle, most likely indicating filming is about to wrap in Vancouver and the movie is moving into the laborious post-production phase. With the hoopla tempered, it felt like the perfect moment to take a trip back in time for a bit of Predator history.
While the dreadlocked hunters of the Predator franchise have become iconic, the original creature design looked much different. Lacking any of the armor or cybernetic enhancements that are the species’ staples, the first Predator was a mantis-like creature with bug-eyes, huge fangs, and exposed muscles bulging out of exposed areas of its exoskeleton.
According to special FX supervisor Steve Johnson, “It was awful. It was ahead of its time, let’s put it that way. But the head did suck.”
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During these early stages of the film’s production, Jean-Claude Van Damme had been hired to play the titular Predator, but the dubious creature design mixed with the actor’s ego proved a toxic combination. In addition to the mantis-like costume, Van Damme was asked to adorn a red suit that would be edited in post-production for the “invisibility cloak” effect. The “Muscles from Brussels” didn’t get it (figuratively and literally!).
“He was just off the boat from Brussels, he thought he was going to show his martial arts abilities to the world,” says Johnson. After being fitted with the bright red suit, it became clear that Van Damme had not been properly informed of his role in the movie. “He thought this was actually the real look of the monster in the movie and he [said] ‘I hate this. I hate this. I hate it. I look like a superhero.’ He was so angry.” Johnson then explained that the suit was red because it was a cloaking device and he was to be invisible for large portions of the picture, “which made him even angrier because he thought he could do his martial arts, he could fight Arnold Schwarzenegger. Impossible. Absolutely impossible.” Source
Of course, everything turned out for the best. The creature was re-hauled into the terrifying fiend we’ve grown to love, and was played by 7’ tall actor Kevin Peter Hall with exceptional results.
The video below gives an unprecedented peek at this stumbling-point in what has otherwise been a wildly successful franchise!
Official Synopsis: Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a soldier of fortune, is hired by the U.S. government to secretly rescue a group of politicians trapped in Guatemala. But when Dutch and his team, which includes weapons expert Blain (Jesse Ventura) and CIA agent George (Carl Weathers), land in Central America, something is gravely wrong. After finding a string of dead bodies, the crew discovers they are being hunted by a brutal creature with superhuman strength and the ability to disappear into its surroundings.
Ironically, director Shane Black had a bit-part in Predator, alongside Schwarzenegger. He played Hawkins who was, unfortunately, the aggressive alien’s first kill.
Shane Black’s The Predator arrives in US Theaters on February 9th, 2018.