35 years ago today, Predator was released to some shockingly negative reviews 2 weeks ago

35 years ago today, Predator was released to some shockingly negative reviews

The prequel, Prey, arrives this August.

We know what the title says, but excuse us while we talk a little while about The Witches of Eastwick.


Released in cinemas on 12 June, 1987, the weird horror-comedy hybrid was directed by George Miller (what a fabulously eclectic filmography that man has, from Babe to Mad Max: Fury Road), and stars Jack Nicholson as The Devil, who is attempting to seduce Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer and Cher, in the hopes they will birth him a son.

It had a budget of $22 million, and was a moderate hit, making $64 million in North America alone (the worldwide box office is not recorded, for some reason), and critics were also moderately friendly towards it, as the movie scored 67% on Metacritic.

So why are we talking about The Witches of Eastwick? Well, on the very same day that movie was released, another weird horror hybrid was also released in cinemas: Predator.


Yep, Arnie's action-movie-that-is-actually-a-horror-movie was launched in cinemas as a sort of macho-counter-programming movie, hoping to draw the men in, as the women flocked to see Nicholson as a horny demon.

Shockingly, Predator had a much smaller budget than The Witches of Eastwick (reportedly as low as $15 million), and even more shockingly, had a smaller box office result in North America – just $59 million.

And as if all of that wasn't shocking enough, critics did not care for it at all, landing with a score of just 45% on Metacritic.

In hindsight, some of the reviews are actually sort of hilarious:


The Los Angeles Times: "It's arguably one of the emptiest, feeblest, most derivative scripts ever made as a major studio movie."

The Washington Post: "Frankly, scarier critters have checked into bad hotels."

San Francisco Chronicle: "The movie, a rather pointless thing when you get down to it, has little of the provocative intelligence that was found in Terminator."

The New York Times: "Alternately grisly and dull, with few surprises."


Of course, hindsight has reframed Predator as one of Arnie's very best movies, and one of the greatest (and only) mash-ups of action and horror ever made.

For director John McTiernan, it arrived just one year ahead of Die Hard, making for a killer one-two punch (and the third punch arriving two years later, with The Hunt For Red October).

For Arnie, as of his filmography, Predator had a lower critical score than Conan The Destroyer, Commando, The Running Man, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, and just barely landed above Last Action Hero (another of his movies that has been re-evaluated with time).

That didn't stop Hollywood from giving it a sequel (Predator 2), and then a sort-of-reboot (Predators), and then a sort-of-reboot/sequel (The Predator), and this August, a prequel (Prey).


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