8/29/2018

Predator 2: When He Had a Few Days to Kill in LA

Let's continue our tribute to the Predator franchise, with my look back at what is actually my favorite installment in the sci-fi/ horror series, the second film, Predator 2 (1990).

After the huge success of the first film from future Die Hard director John McTerinan and star Arnold Schwarzengger, it was only fitting that a sequel be made. But, one of the many aspects that make this film so interesting is that it took risks. It didn't rehash the story or even bring back Arnie. Although, early on there was a concept of where Danny Glover's character and Schwarzengger would team up and battle the monster. Arnie and wanted more money so his return didn't happen, at all. What we do get is a movie that while looked down upon by critics, and even by a few fans, is a rollicking and wild entry and goes into bold and exciting territory.
Harrigan finds out that the Predator likes to catch some z's in a meat-locker.

It is the future (or at least was when this movie was released) the year 1990, and LA is experiencing a brutal heat wave, as well as an even more brutal gang war fought between the Colombians and the Jamaican drug gangs. As the movie begins, the cops are in a violent gun fight with the Colombians. Soon, we are introduced to our main hero Lt. Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) who comes in to lead his crew. They are told to not go in, but Harrigan doesn't play by the book. When, a large explosion comes forth from a window, where the baddies are holed up in, he says fuck it. He goes in with Danny Archuleta (Ruben Blades), who he came up with through the ranks and is a long time friend, and badass Leona Cantrell (the gorgeous Maria Conchita Alonso) and few other cops. Soon they discover that the gang has been mutilated by a fast, unknown assailant, well unknown to them anyways. They think it is the Jamaicans, but we know better.
A little bit after, at headquarters, Harigan is introduced to Special Agent Keyes (Gary Busey) who will be in charge of the investigation. Harrigan also meets the young and energetic Detective Jerry Lambert (the late, great Bill Paxton). Lambert goes to develop a relationship with Cantrell.
Meanwhile, the Jamaicans interrupt one of the Colombians while he's banging a chick. They kill him in a voodoo ritual, only to be slaughtered themselves by the Predator (a returning Kevin Peter Hall). This leads a Harrigan to realize that a third player is in town. And, when Danny is killed by the monster, Harrigan makes it personal. He centers his investigation on Keyes who he knows is not really a DEA guy and knows a lot more than he is telling. It will all lead to a rousing battle between the unstoppable Predator and our tough as nails, if acrophobia (fear of heights) hero.

Predator 2 is one of the most unrelenting and action packed sequels ever made. It really never lets up. From start to finish the action and gore come in and beat you down to the ground. And, who handles the directing job here? It's British director Stephen Hopkins. Hopkins had earlier headed the enjoyable but highly uneven A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. The man already had handled a horror franchise that is driven by its monster. But, while that movie had its ups and downs, Predator 2 is all high notes and then some.
On a side note, between this movie and the awesome "Marked for Death" Jamaican voodoo drug gangs were appearing in violent, early 90's action movies.

Hopkins shows that he is very apt at directing rousing action and solid stunts. There so many wild points here and all are awesome and expertly shot and edited. The bloody beginning is ultra-violent and makes LA look like a motherfucking war-zone. Meanwhile, the nightmarish and violent train massacre scene was probably the nastiest bit of train mayhem in a horror movie, until the ending of Final Destination 3, came along.

He is equally good at the splatter aspect of the film. There is a ton of blood spilled and splattered on various sets. Enough so that the movie had a fuck of a problem wit the MPAA. It took a total of 20 trips with the ratings board to secure an R-rating. Sadly, we never got an unrated version, and I don't think we ever will. It would be nice though, if it ever happened. Regardless, even in its truncated form there are bloody squibs, impalings, slicings, amupations, bloody bullet hits, stabbings, a bisection, a head and spinal cord getting ripped out (albeit in silhouette), and flayed and mutilated corpses galore.
The Predator doing his best "come at me. bro"!

The film has an amazing cast. I love Glover in the lead. He isn't your typical action hero. But, the man had, by thus point in time, cut his teeth on Lethal Weapon 1&2, so he knew what he was doing. Plus, he looks and feels like real dude, not a superhuman man like Arnie or Stallone. Blades is a pleasure as Danny, and this was the movie where I really began to like him. Alonso is someone that I had been a fan of before, but this is probably my favorite role of hers. Tough and sexy, she is one ass kicking, take no shit mamacita. Busey is, well, Busey, which is too say he is over the top and wonderfully so. 
And, Paxton is just awesome, he always is and this movie (and Aliens, Near Dark, his own Frailty, and fuck everything with him in it!) makes me miss him so much. Noteworthy is that Morton Downey Jr. plays a tabloid reporter. It is funny cause, in the late 80s he made an episode of his own show, The Morton Downey Jr. Show where he put down violent horror movies, only to appear in this and an episode of Tales from the Crypt... 

Production design is another aspect of this movie that is great. From the blood spattered walls to the meat freezer to the amazing smoke filled Predator ship everything looks cool and exciting. And, speaking of the Predator ship the trophy wall is awesome, as we see an Xenomorph skull. This showed that Alien Vs. Predator was a real thing, at a time when it was only a comic and still several years away from being two movies.
The guy on the left is a little, shy that why he doesn't take off his mask.

No discussion about this movie can be had without mentioning the spectacular work of Stan Winston. He again proves that he was one of the greatest make-up artists in the world. The creature design and look is amazing and life like. While the violence is bloody and realistic.

Originally to be released in Christmas, the sequel actually got pushed a month up to Thanksgiving weekend. It opened in fourth place, but made no where near the amount of money the first movie had made. As a result there wouldn't be another Predator movie till Alien Vs. Predator in 2004.
Mine! No! Mine!

I still fondly remember the movie's trailers and TV spots promising that the Predator was in a new jungle (LA) and was "in town with a few days to kill". Between my love of the first movie, those ads, and the Fangoria articles, I was pumped as fucking hell to see it. I was too young to get in the theaters on my own, so I went with my grandpa, himself, a fan of the first one. I will always remember walking home back from the movies with him, talking about it. For this reason it holds a special place in my heart.
Anyway, I always liked it more than the amazing first film. It is technically not the better movie, but I prefer it. Although, I honest to God love both movies. As a whole, I think the Predator movies are a better franchise than Alien just because even the worst film, AVP, is at least OK (which is more than I can say for shit like Alien: Covenant...). In fact, I would venture in saying that there is little wrong with this movie, in particular. After all, this is an action hybrid and saying that it is all action isn't a bad thing (especially when the action is so goddamn, fucking good!).
A little known fact is the "Skulls" by The Misfits is the Predator's theme song. 

Predator 2 is a fun, wild action/ horror/ sci-fi movie. It is not better than the classic, first flick, but I do happen to like it just a little more. In terms of quality, it is almost on par with it, I think. It has an amazing cast and fun and lively characters. The make-up FX by Winston are, of course, spectacular. And, the action and the gore are utterly unrelenting. So, ignore the critics who look down on it and revisit the most exhilarating non-stop hunt ever, before you go off to see the new one.

More Predator Tribute:
Horror Crush: Kristen Hager

0 comments: