Since 1987, one irrefutable rule has stood tall within the realms of action/sci-fi/horror cinema that reads clearly: fuck with the Pred and you’ll end up dead. It’s a lesson that’s been learned the hard way by some of Hollywood’s most recognizable character actors that included everyone from Carl Weathers, Gary Busey, Lance Henriksen, Danny Trejo, Bill Paxton and Mahershala Ali, but as we gear up for the release of Prey, the latest Predator entry that pits the Comanche Nation against the race of alien hunters known as the Yautja nearly 600 years ago, who actually got it worst while being on the business end of a plasma blast or a extending gauntlet blade?
So polish your skulls, sharpen your spears and belt out that epic laugh that alien’s voice modulator nicked off of Billy to find out which muscular, pre-oiled trophy is the most impressive of all.
5) Cutting Keyes (Predator 2 – 1990)
How do you stop a deranged creature that’s powered by inhuman rage, comunicates in either incomprehensible roars or contextless snippets of nonsensical dialogue and has the constitution of a charging gorilla – simple: you cut Gary Busey’s head off. That’s right! I was talking about the notoriously chaotic actor the entire time! Jokes!
But seriously, it does take more than the average effort it takes for the alien hunter to put down Busey’s shadowy agent, Peter Keyes, for good and he starts off by slaughtering his entire staff after they try to capture him using freeze guns and weird shiny suits to block their heat. Obviously, this works about as well as asking Ed Gein to provide meat for a barbecue and so after everyone is dead, only Keyes is left as his quarry gets him in the sights of his devastating shoulder cannon, but before the Pred can fire, Los Angeles super cop Mike Harrigan arrives in the nick of – oh no, wait, apparently the cannon fire backwards too, so a screaming Keyes disappears in a large explosion. However, it takes a little more than an alien gun to stop Gary fucking Busey and so he pops up again later – although more than a little singed – to aid Harrigan in his fight to the death only for the Predator to break out its secret weapon: a killer frisbee that tears through numerous beef carcasses before separating his ranting head from the rest of his body.
4) Pinning Down That Special Girl (Aliens Vs. Predator: Requirem – 2008)
If you were to tell me that Aliens Vs. Predator: Requirem was the absolute nadir of both franchises I can assure you, you’d get no argument from me, but in amongst the forgettable characters and pitch black cinematography (so you have any idea how hard it was finding usable pictures of this fucking scene!?), there’s a bizarrely haunting death that stands out just for its sheer, brutal randomness. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to to Jessie Slazenger, forgettable teen supporting character who inexplicably has the hots for Ricky, the forgettable brother of the forgettable lead. After fleeing a full on Xenomorph invasion of a suburban town, the survivors make it to the hospital where they’re hoping to comindeer a helicopter from the roof of the building before a nuke hits (when it rains, it pours). Meanwhile, the “Wolf” Predator, a member of the species whose day job is apparently to clean up Xenomorph leaks using the most ineffective methods possible (they have massive bombs in their wrist gauntlet, why the fuck does he wander around pouring blue acid on everything?) and has currently engaged the hybrid Predalien as some warrior drones just down the hall from our retreating heros. Hurling his alien, razor-frisbee at his rapidly scattering foes, the deadly projectile whizzes through the corridor and impales the shit out of Jessie, killing her instantly and nailing her to the wall like a floppy-limbed doll.
Weirdly, what makes this death work so well is how badly it was set up as it literally comes out of fucking nowhere, is genuinely alarming and actually makes you sit up and take notice for about 30 seconds before the indecipherable visuals bring you back into a state of irritated boredom.
3) Killing Billy (Predator – 1987)
What’s that I hear you cry? An off-screen kill making the list? Blasphemy!!!
Now, while I would normally agree with you that when it comes to showstopping character deaths, usually it’s a case of the gore, the merrier – however, I’d argue that the epic, unseen demise of gargantuan Native American tracker, Billy Sole, shows the Predator franchise at it’s very best.
What’s left of the rescue team that’s found itself stuck in the middle of the South American jungle being stalked by an alien hunter is making a desperate retreat to “get to da choppah” in a spirited attempt to get airlifted to safety, but it soon becomes apparent that they need more time. Up steps Billy – sick of running and tired of being scared – to make a last stand against this wraith-like force of nature that’s been handing everyone their asses for roughly the last 24 hours and composer Alan Silvestri takes that as his cue to turn his already bombastic score into a blaring fanfare as the soldier strips off his battle gear, unsheathes a knife the size of a fully grown otter and runs it dramatically over his chest as he defiantly gives his own mortality the stink-eye.
Even though his final fate is only revealed with a blood curdling scream (although later we see the Predator remove the skull and spine from his body like he’s yanking a tablecloth away and leaving the glasses standing), it is a most excellent death chiefly because we don’t see what happens and other scenes that have tried to emulate it (a gibbering Bill Paxton facing a younger Pred down on a subway train in the sequel and Louis Ozawa Changchien’s Yakuza sword duel in Predators) end up being twice as spectacular but with only half the power.
2) Six Guys Murdered And Fried (Predator 2 – 1990)
Ok, hunting down guys one acts time is cool and all – but sometimes going full, melee, beast mode on a group of victims is the only way to go and we see a prime example of this when a Predator rudely interrupts six members of the Jamacian Voodoo Posse as they assassinate a rival drug lord in in his penthouse. Opening negotiations by blowing a hole through one guy with his plasma cannon, the Predator rapidly eliminates each subsequent member by scrolling through his weapons cache like an impatient GTA player and takes out the whole room with a razor net, a dart projectile, a spear and his wrist blades.
Continuing the aesthetic that every reel of Predator 2 was apparently dunked in a huge, Scarface-sized mountain of cocaine before being run through a projector, the scene is basically the Pred showing off in the most overblown way possible as he racks up style points like they’re going out of fashion. By far the most gnarliest of the death is the poor fucker who gets a face full of net that cuts through his face like cheese wire, but he also runs another through with his fancy, retractable spear and drops another by ruining his dreads with a well placed razor dart. For a movie overdosing on overkill, the erasing of the Voodoo Posse is a nicely brutal highlight.
1) Mac Attack (Predator – 1987)
It’s always a treat whenever a Predator switches to full-on beast mode, but for that extra satisfying touch, it’s the ballsy stealth kills that really show off how smart a killer the alien hunters really are. The shocking headshot the creature nails vengeful, dry shaving, unhinged Mac Eliot with ranks as my number one simply because it matches how spiteful these creatures are with how fucking sneaky these hulking bastards can really be…
Hoping to catch the alien in a classic pincer movement, former adversaries Mac and Dillion spread out to flush their attacker into a nice, juicy kill zone, but the two haven’t taken in account that the Predator is already wise to their game and is taking steps to counter their soldier boy shit.
As Mac drags himself under some branches he notices a triangle of three, red dots projected on his arm and has his inner wheels start turning to explain what he’s seeing, the laser dots slowly move from his arm to draw a bead right between his eyes that comprehend a second too late – and then BOOM! the Predator’s shoulder mounted plasma caster spectacularly blows Mac’s brain all over the screen and leaving his double act with Dillan prematurely cancelled.
But as a final, parting shot, a reverse angle reveals that the devious extra terrestrial was actually standing over him when it nailed it’s smug killshot, thus technically making him a precursor to those infuriating, mouthy kids who lay waste to everyone on an online game of Call Of Duty. At least the Pred stops short of claiming he’s had sex with Mac’s mom or tea bagging the corpse to really drive the victory home…
Honorable Mention – Well, That’s Me Stumped (The Predator – 2018)
Shane Black’s return to the Predator franchise wasn’t particularly well received by many thanks to some iffy CGI and a truly bewildering plot (the Preds want to weaponize aspergers?) but do I have a soft spot for The Predator if only for the weird, off-colour humour and the cartoonishly brutal kills – however, the most outlandish death in the film can’t technically be attributed to the titular alien as it concerns that of the clumsy – not to mention very accidental – demise of Alvaro Nettles.
Quinn McKenna, his buddy Willams and the nervy Nettles have leaped onto the roof of the ship of the towering Super Predator who has swiped Quinn’s son for genetically nefarious purposes that don’t hold up to the slightest scrutiny whatsoever and the trio have to hold on tight as the spacecraft takes off and soars to a quick getaway. However, despite being around nine feet of bezerker fury, the Super-Pred is akso impressively safety conscious and so the drooling dreadnaught flicks on the vessel’s protective shields to encase his vehicle in a glowing, blue, protective cocoon.
Thinking fast, Quinn goes low and ducks under the shield while William’s goes high and ends up on it, Nettles on the other hand suffers from a slower reaction time and ends up having both his legs amputated for his trouble and we get one glimpse of Nettles’ stunned features before he slides right off the ship to fall to his death in the woods below. Unpredictable, bloody and fucking funny, the entire film, forcall its faults, was worth it for this single moment…
Prey is out on Hulu and Disney+ from August 5th