Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.
Please enjoy and leave a comment!
And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The Shining (1980)
Halloween II (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Halloween III – Season of the Witch (1982)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
They Live (1988)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Our next film is…
WATCHING: Predator 2 (1990)
DIRECTOR: Stephen Hopkins, who is the king of underrated gems like “Judgement Night”, “The Ghost and the Darkness”, and “Blown Away”. Dude was also the producer on the first season of Fox’s “24”. He’s a decent choice for a director here.
WHAT IS IT?: Ah, “Predator 2”, a movie which got hate for no good reason. This sucker was intense and it never quit. Director Stephen Hopkins gives us a fun sequel — even if it feels over-the-top with the violence and a goofball-level of satire and silliness that director Paul Verhoeven might have approved of.
THE PLOT: A decade after an alien hunter nearly wiped out a team of commandos, another hunter lands on Earth and finds itself in the middle of a target-rich environment: a war between the L.A.P.D. and several gangs who looks to rule the streets of the city. But as the cops and gangs begin losing people in the same, cold, efficient fashion, Detective Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) catches on to the hunter’s antics and begins to hunt him in return.
WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: They hated it. I feel like this theme is a constant. Two reviewers for The Washington Post were split while the New York Times called it a mean action film that was unfitting for the holidays. Roger Ebert called The Predator “racist” saying it resembled “a black male”…I mean, I have no idea what Roger was on back then, but ok.
WHAT DID I THINK?: “Predator 2” is a big, bold production that’s a little heavier on the grittiness than the first film. The entire first sequence (the battle against the drug lords all the way up to the aftermath) is a test. It remains almost inaccessible in its gritty gratuitousness and, if you can get past that, this is the movie for you.
This time around, it’s an entirely different story and cast. Danny Glover takes the reigns and that’s a curious choice. He was fresh off “Lethal Weapon 2” and it was hard to buy him as anything other than an aging man who could barely keep up with a partner. Even here, he fights drug lords while wearing a polo, slacks and loafers. Miami Vice, this isn’t. Even still, Glover does have the acting chops and the experience to convince us that he’s a cop even if he’s not quite the “tough-as-nails” cop the film seems to be trying to convince us he is. He does a decent job here, especially when he interacts his partners and colleagues who are played by veteran actors Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, and the late Bill Paxton. Unfortunately, these interactions aren’t given the chance to breathe and all three bite it too soon, leaving Glover alone to deal with the Predator.
Gary Busey also makes an appearance here as “Peter Keyes”, a smarmy asshole of a government agent who knows more about the Predator than he letting on. Robert Davi is Glover’s captain in the film and he’s reduced to a cameo, which is fine, but he’s too good an actor to have such little screen time. Morton Downey, Jr. is also here, more or less playing himself, a trashy, sensationalist shit-disturber who pushes his audience’s buttons, with regard to how out of control the crime is in L.A., in order to get ratings. So much potential was wasted, even though Glover is pretty good.
The Thomas Brothers (who wrote the original film) return here with a script which sets the action in what they called “an urban jungle”, which is basically a futuristic crime-ridden Los Angeles during a massive heat wave. It takes the original concept and turns it up to 11. Also nice is the slight expansion of the Predator mythos: the visits we’ve seen them make aren’t the first. The inclusion of the Predator’s trophy room, which includes the skulls of various beings from around the universe (including the Alien from the “Alien” films) is a nice touch. The dialogue is mostly forgettable but it exhausts you (in a good way) with some expert pacing. The hunt and the climatic battle inside the Predator ship is really awesome. Here, Harrigan and the Predator find themselves on near equal-footing at times and it’s fun to see the two duel.
“Predator 2” remains one of my most favorite sequels and it is, I’d argue, slightly better than the first film.