Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Predator - The original design

Before Stan Winston and his team came up with the Predator design that we all know and love there was an abandoned design built at Boss Films Creature Shop by Steve Johnson. Worn by an actor on stilts with arm extension it supported by a harness and wire rig. Hired to wear the suit was Martial arts actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, hired for his agility. The Predators head was designed to be able to turn and flip to almost any angle so he could track his prey and the eyes were based on insects eyes.
For the original test shots they didn't use any overhead support wires, FX shop crew tried out the leg extensions, it was reported that only a few feet of ground could be covered before it became very tiring on the crew members legs, so taking this suit into a Jungle setting was going to be difficult. It was rumored that James Cameron(Terminator, Aliens) was called in as a consultant to look at the footage they'd shot of the creature, his reaction was that it looked like a guy on crutches hobbling through the woods. They decided to rig the suit with wires to support the suit but again in a Jungle environment this was going to prove very impracticable from shot to shot and in the end other people had the final say.

Above is a small maquette of the Predator creature designed by Boss Film FX.

Finally it was said to have been Cameron who recommended Stan Winston for the job, and on a flight with Winston, Cameron was said to have come up with the idea of adding mandibles to the creatures mouth.
Other FX by Boss that were canned included a menagerie of Alien heads in a trophy room onboard the Predator's ship, an idea obviously re used in Predator 2.

Although the creature designed by Boss may have been a more exotic take on the Predator design this creature looks too indigenous to a planet to have the look that it could build a spacecraft and fly around the galaxy. I'm glad they went with the design we ended up seeing but it's interesting to see how much work can go into a project only to be scrapped and probably costing the production a fair few dollars in the process.

11 comments:

allen said...

Not sure if you read my earlier post about stilts (I'm going to have 2 1/2 foot tall stilts and arm extension so that the animator can have references for our creature) but I've been really working out to get ready for it...doubt I'll look anything at all like Van Damme, tho. Very interesting post here.

allen said...

The lower image reminds me of a Sleestack from Land of the Lost...well, at least a Sleestack on steroids.

allen said...

I went back through your archives and came across Starcrash. Never heard of the film but I'VE GOT TO HAVE IT! It looks so bad! Any film that has both Christopher Plummer AND David Hasselhoff in it has to be seen by the masses! WOW!!! What a horribly good mess...I laughed so hard I almost puked!

Andrew Glazebrook said...

Starcrash is a real gem. A proper so bad it's good movie !!!

Nik said...

Brilliant Andy, thanks for posting these! For years I've been desperate to see these designs, I even bought the Predator 2 disc DVD for the test footage of the original costume!

One thing I've always loved about Predator is the end credits with all the proincipals looking up to the camera and smiling, almost Hi-De-Hi in its execution all it needed was a 'You Have Been Watching'.
Apparently McTiernan wanted to have people leave the cinema feeling happy, not focus on the nasty deaths that have gone before. What a nice guy he must be.

allen said...

Same thing happened at the end of "Con Air". Smiling psychos!

Nik said...

Ha! Brilliant! I'd never even realized, probably too busy laughing at the naked gun style demise of Cyrus the Virus, who only got caught because he wanted to crawl around on top of a fire truck, as opposed to lying still while they get away!

allen said...

"Let go...of...the bunny!" Nic Cage's finest!

Moonwatcher said...

I'm very glad they rejected this design,I really like the final Predator costume.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

A lot of films have had that 'You Have Been Watching' style thing at the end, Zulu and the Dirty Dozen spring to mind,and funnily enough a fair few of them get killed too !!

Nik said...

I think that McTiernan may have mentioned the Dirty Dozen as an influence, he said he enjoyed the movie as a kind of old school men on a mission picture.
Also it was at this time that Ahnoldt wanted to make a Sgt Rock flick, hence the inclusion of a Sgt Rock comic in said credits.