Extreme Predator: The Accidentally Perfect 1987 Double Feature

This week, the gents of Junkfood Cinema, as part of their ongoing Summer of 1987 series, discuss the sci-fi action classic ‘Predator.’
By  · Published on June 9th, 2017

This week, the gents of Junkfood Cinema, as part of their ongoing Summer of 1987 series, discuss the sci-fi action classic ‘Predator.’

One of my favorite things about hosting the Junkfood Cinema podcast is the odd phenomena wherein consecutive movies we’ve covered overlap in unexpected ways. On occasion, a couplet of seemingly disparate movies create a pairing as delectably harmonious as chocolate and peanut butter. Or mashed potatoes and mustard… YES THEY DO GO TOGETHER!

One such example of this cult movie kismet was chasing Walter Hill’s Extreme Prejudice with John McTiernan’s Predator. On the surface, these two 1987 releases are very different films, the former of which I admittedly hadn’t even seen prior to show prep despite being a massive Hill fan. (Incidentally, you can hear our Extreme Prejudice episode here.) However, as I watched Extreme Prejudice with Predator on the brain, it was uncanny how many traits it shared with the legendary actioner.

Both films assemble a team of mercenaries sent on a mission by a shady government official. In both instances, this also amounts to an assemblage of phenomenal character actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, Bill Duke, and Carl Weathers in Predator, while Extreme Prejudice boats Michael Ironside, Clancy Brown, and William Forsythe. Those missions turn out to be deceptions in both cases, turning the mercenary team against the agent. Also, during the respective prologues, conversations are bandied about between both teams regarding missions they had previously pulled in far-flung locales.

Interestingly, there is a strange game of red rover within these casts. Maria Conchita Alonso is one of the ’80s mainstay actresses who appears in Extreme Prejudice. While she is not also in Predator, she is in fact in the 1990 sequel. From Predator, let’s consider actor Sonny Landham, who portrays Billy. While Landham is not in Extreme Prejudice, he is in 48 Hours, which is also directed by Hill. Interestingly enough, his name is also Billy in that.

By the end of Predator as well as the finale of Extreme Prejudice, the betrayed mercenaries end up in a dangerous situation that had nothing to do with their mission. The former finds the team suddenly thrust into a big game hunt in which they are prey to a vicious alien, while the latter finds the mercenaries in the crosshairs of a rivalry between lawman and kingpin who were childhood friends. The result of both? A massive shootout with a body count on par with a Quentin Tarantino-directed Hamlet.

Let’s also think about the final moments of both movies. Predator concludes with the last remaining members of Dutch’s team (i.e. Dutch) helicoptered out of the perilous jungle that, while now free of the Predator itself, is overrun with gun-toting guerillas. In Extreme Prejudice, Nick Nolte is driven out of a small Mexican town overrun with gun-toting guerillas. The necessary extraction of both heroes brings the overlapping plots full circle.

The two films also share identical inspiration. In the 1987 documentary “If It Bleeds We Can Kill It,” Schwarzenegger mentions that he was attracted to Predator because he always wanted to be in a movie like The Wild Bunch. The Wild Bunch was directed by Sam Peckinpah, who just so happens to be a major influence on Hill. Hill’s Extreme Prejudice also has several Peckinpah-esque elements. It’s also interesting to note that, many years later, Predators would face the Xenomorphs of the Alien franchise in an ill-conceived crossover series. Ridley Scott’s 1979 Alien was produced by Hill.

Not convinced? How about the fact that, oddly, both Predator and Extreme Prejudice feature a scene in which a character proves himself to be a total badass by killing a scorpion? In Predator, Duke knifes a scorpion from Weathers’s back, while in Extreme Prejudice, the late, great Powers Boothe squashes the stingy creature with his bare hands.

Their weeks-apart release dates put to immediate rest any aspersions of plagiarism on either side, so instead the similarities between Predator and Extreme Prejudice are as much a happy accident as they are the foundation for the perfect, if unexpected, double feature.

Got time to hear us gush about how much we love Predator? Strap this week’s episode of the Junkfood Cinema podcast on your sore ears! We dissect the movie, suggest maybe Shane Black was kidnapped and forced to be in the movie, and even hypothesize that maybe the Predator visited the Krull universe.

As a special treat, anyone who backs JFC on Patreon will have access to weekly bonus episodes covering an additional cult movie, a new movie in theaters, or a mailbag episode devoted to your submitted questions! During Summer of ’87, there will be an entirely separate Summer of ’77 miniseries just for Patrons! Have a couple bucks to throw in the hat, we’ll reward you!

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Longtime FSR columnist, current host of FSR’s Junkfood Cinema podcast. President of the Austin Film Critics Association.