Drinking With The Dread: A PREDATOR and PREDATOR 2 Double Down!
This month’s Drinking With The Dread is a bit unconventional – not exactly “party horror” as per my typical definition – but when DC’s Jonathan Barkan inputs a special request, his staff answers. Happily. What is it that Mr. Barkan asked from myself, Anya Stanley, Brennan Klein and Zena Dixon? That we all theme our recurring monthly columns around a Predator film. For me that meant getting buzzed while watching Predator or Predator 2 because AVP: Alien vs. Predator, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem and Predators can all sod right off. The almighty question: does one trust in proven quality or so-bad-it-needs-alcohol-to-be-good? I couldn’t decide.
So I went with both.
In 99% of cases where these Predator movies are recalled, sweaty-backed action elements or voodoo gang warfare madness dominates the conversation. The Most Dangerous Game except with intergalactic apex beasts doing the huntin’ and trophy skull removals. What gets lost is the fact that these flicks are essentially slasher joints that pull influences from a myriad of genres. Fear isn’t outright projected by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscular band of brototype meathead molds, but that’s just a function of exploitation by way of the film’s commentary on hyper masculinity (which Ms. Stanley already dove into for y’all). You could spend months – years – reading between the lines (re: Blain and Mac) as “Dutch” so frantically attempts to reach that motherflippin’ chopper, but let’s not forget these films are 100% crafted with horror on the mind. Grisly, pop-your-skull-like-a-balloon horror.
First on my revisit tour was John McTiernan’s 1987 Predator. A perfect film I’d seen a bazillion times that remains to be as perfect as ever. Pacing, overt shirtless exertions of testosterbrone, one-liners fired like assault rounds – it’s the pinnacle of sci-fi horror filmmaking in terms of monumental excitement. We’re talking about a movie I hold so dear to my soul that it inspired custom artwork with real-world bro Eric Walkuski, who you may know from the online “emporium” known as JoBlo. Best Secret Santa gift ever.
I don’t need to tell you why Predator rules because scores of thirsty adrenaline junkies have been echoing their warrior calls since the film’s existence. Even noted cinema critic Roger Ebert heaped praise, as he anointed the film with three out of four stars. Military action kicks in immediately with a dizzying array of bangs (explosions), the titular “Yautja” initiates massacre mode, and Arnold delivers one of the most iconic 80s G.I. Bro performances yet to be out machoed or out awesomed. Never has a film featuring so many future politicians kicked so much extraterrestrial ass.
From there I immediately dove into Predator 2, a film I’d admittedly not seen in quite some time – with good reason, it turns out. We go from calling the Predator “one ugly mothafucka’” (read: Arnie accent) to Danny Glover labeling him a “pussyface.” Is it a comedy? Thriller? An off-kilter hybrid of both? I still, as of this draft, can’t answer definitively.
Stephen Hopkins’ 1990 sequel trades rainforest foliage for L.A.’s dystopian concrete jungle, where Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (Glover) struggles to maintain order between Jamaican and Colombian crime syndicates. Drug pushers like “El Scorpio” and “King Willy” rule the streets until a common unseen enemy starts chopping up footsoldier thugs. Glover’s overacting belongs in a museum somewhere on a constant gif loop, while Bill Paxton’s “lone wolf” Jerry Lambert scams on anything with female traits. Where McTiernan found ferocity, tension and stealth assassinations, Hopkins instead favors hambone performances which pins the Predator as less of an adversary this time around. And don’t get me started on that spaceship finale and those busted-ass special effects. Even for 1990 they look like a kindergartener pasted smoke over the bottom portion of your screen.
If anything, the single sitting digestion of both films only amplified each one’s strengths and weaknesses. Predator, a golden standard for jungle lurking survival thrillers. Predator 2, a film that somehow didn’t stake the Predator franchise dead in its tracks. I’d originally assumed Predator 2 would be the better film to make a drinking game for because alcoholic accompaniment would be more necessary – Predator needing no such additive – but my mind has flipped. Even as a slightly-serious, vein-bursting show of burlier-than-conceivable men who at the time defined how masculinity was perceived, Predator is *still* insanely fun. Watch it with beers. What it without. Really doesn’t matter in the least just as long as you’re watching it. Can’t say nearly as much for Predator 2, which is why drinking games were invented!
Highlight moments include but are 100% not limited to:
- That “sonofabitch” Dillon, and “the handshake.” (Predator)
- “Stick around.” (Predator)
- “If it bleeds, we can kill it.” (Predator)
- Blain, the “goddamn sexual Tyrannosaurus.” (Predator)
- “I’m gonna have me some fun!” (Predator)
- When Blain goes down and the jungle pays dearly. (Predator)
- “GET TO DA CHOPPA!” (Predator)
- “DO IT! COME ON! KILL ME NOW! I’M HERE” (Predator)
- Bill Paxton (Predator 2)
- Danny Glover cursing everyone and their mother out. (Predator 2)
- Bloody corpses dangling like fruit to be picked. (Predator 2)
- Kevin Peter Hall (Predator/Predator 2)
Since I pulled double-duty this week, let’s first start with Predator’s Drinking With The Dread rules.
- Drink whenever the screen enters “Predator Vision.”
- Drink whenever something explodes.
- Drink every time there’s an overly masculine display of bromanship (I counted 18, will allow for viewer discretion).
- Drink every time an epic one-liner is landed. You know the ones. (Again, I’ll allow for discretion but I counted about 17).
- Drink TWICE every time one of Dutch’s squad is killed by the Predator.
- Drink TWICE every time you see a “chopper” or the word “chopper” is said.
- TAKE A SHOT for your favorite part. Everyone has their own. For me, I’ll be shooting back a nice zip of Jager when Dillon and Dutch clasp hands for their bicep-bursting handshake of the century.
Now, let’s get you situated with Predator 2’s Drinking With The Dread rules because, yeah – you’re gonna need ‘em (if not, more power to ya).
- Drink whenever the screen enters “Predator Vision.”
- Drink whenever someone mentions the “Jamaicans” or “Columbians.”
- Drink whenever someone dies (Predator or no Predator involvement).
- Drink whenever Bill Paxton’s Lambert says something ridiculous, in memory of a tremendous man.
- Drink TWICE whenever Tony Pope turns up at a crime scene or when Hard Core is shown on television.
- Drink TWICE whenever Danny Glover delivers a hilarious outburst.
- TAKE A SHOT when Glover calls the Predator “pussyface,” beacuse, I mean, what is this movie even.
As a rule, you should also pour some out for legendary creature actor Kevin Peter Hall. The man who brought Predator to life. Jean-Claude Van Damme’s serendipitous exit from the original project – take your pick of reasons based on multiple clashing firsthand accounts – led to the hiring of 7-foot-4 Kevin Peter Hall. Without a nimble, vicious predator who looked every bit the part thanks to Stan Winston’s amalgamation of Rastafarian inspirations and James Cameron’s request to see “mandibles” on an alien, Predator wouldn’t have been the success it was. Predator 2 wouldn’t exist. We wouldn’t be sitting here in 2018 frothily anticipating Shane Black’s The Predator. Despite all the scheduling problems on set, despite Winston’s team only having six weeks versus the previous effects house’s year-long contract (which lead to weapons malfunctions and smoke-filled masks), Hall took the Predator role and brought a legend to life. You can’t mention the likes of Schwarzenegger, McTiernan, Glover and more without also recognizing the “Predator” himself.
Imagine if they’d kept their original outer space cockroach?
I never knew how much I could enjoy cinema until watching Predator. It’s an honor and a privilege to write about a film so dear to my film-loving soul while also making Mr. Barkan’s fondest dreams come true. Cheers to you birthday boy, cheers to all my other Predhead fandom lovers out there, and cheers to the mass of creative talent who endured Mexico’s unbearable heat to create a sci-fi epic that will outlive us all. It’s not like you *need* another reason to watch any Predator movie, but hey, I’d say Drinking With The Dread is a damn fine addition to the list.