The Second Disc

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Friday Feature: “Predator”

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If you went into theatres in the summer of 1987 to see Predator, you might have expected a rote action film with Arnold Schwarzenegger and nothing more. On the surface, there’s nothing that would have you expect anything else. The Austrian Oak leads a team of soldiers through an attempted rescue mission in South America. Sounds like any other action movie from the ’80s, right?

But then you catch those quick bursts of infrared images. The distorted sound. The unearthly snarling. And you realize there’s another element at play. When Arnold’s men start falling to mysterious weaponry, it’s a definite: this isn’t your garden variety action film. When the killer hunting arnold through the jungle reveals itself as a hulking, masked, dreadlocked creature from space? We’re definitely not in Val Verde anymore.

Predator may not be a classic. It’s essentially The Most Dangerous Game crossed with Alien, with none of the sociopolitical undertones that made Alien and Aliens classics of the genre. But as a pure popcorn flick, it succeeds on almost every level. The ace direction from John McTiernan (who followed this picture with another defining ’80s action film, Die Hard) face-melting testosterone (the death-grip/arm-wrestling handshake when Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers reunite early in the film), the presence of not one but two future governors (wrestler Jesse Ventura as Blaine, the soldier who “ain’t got time to bleed”) and the creepy subliminal body part resemblance in the Predator’s face (think about it – then shudder) – all of these things contribute to a thrilling experience for a Saturday afternoon.

Upon repeated viewings, one may be quick to realize how much the music helps drive the action and suspense of the film. Its composer, Alan Silvestri, had just made a name for himself in a big way with the rousing score to Back to the Future two years prior – but it was his first major score to 1983’s Romancing the Stone that set the template for the music of Predator. Relying heavily on ethnic percussion – including that classic bongo motif that continues to define the character – it is one of the strongest entries in Silvestri’s filmography, an amazing feat considering how hot his streak was at the time (between the Back to the Future trilogy and his frenetic score to Disney’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988).

Astoundingly, the music of Predator only recently got the appraisal it deserves on CD – but the results have been satisfactory. Hit the jump to find out more – and remember: if it bleeds, we can kill it.

Alan Silvestri, Predator: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Varese Sarabande VCL 0803 1022, 2003 – original film released 1987)

  1. Twentieth Century Fox Fanfare – 0:27 *
  2. Main Title – 3:51
  3. Something Else – 3:34
  4. Cut ‘Em Down – 1:56
  5. Payback Time – 2:09
  6. The Truck – 4:22
  7. Jungle Trek – 1:47
  8. The Girl’s Escape – 6:00
  9. Blaine’s Death – 2:47
  10. He’s My Friend – 1:26
  11. We’re All Gonna Die – 3:32
  12. Buildign a Trap – 3:02
  13. The Waiting – 3:27
  14. The Hunt is On – 4:51
  15. Dillon is Disarmed – 2:07
  16. Billy Stands Alone – 2:34
  17. Battle Plans – 9:24
  18. Wounded Predator – 4:14
  19. Hand to Hand Combat – 3:12
  20. Predator’s Big Finish -3:42
  21. The Rescue and End Credits – 4:44

* This unique arrangement of the Fox fanfare – done by Elliot Goldenthal – was actually recorded for Alien3 in 1992

The original issue of the Predator score was highly anticipated. As a result, it quickly sold out its 3,000-unit pressing and remains a high-priced item on the secondary market. But fans may have something to cheer about: Intrada’s next release – to be announced Monday – is shaping up to look like it might be a reissue of the Predator score. The label has promised a score from the ’80s at 3,000 copies which is a reissue of a previous release with slightly better sound sourced from digital masters (the Predator release on Varese is believed to have been sourced from analogue masters). So of course check back on Monday for that info if it happens!

Varese’s first foray into the Predator universe came with the score to the 1990 sequel, which Silvestri also composed. Predator 2 was quite literally a different beast; set in the middle of a drug war in L.A. some time in the future, we find Danny Glover fighting off the titular hunter after it makes swift work of two warring gangs. The mythology is slightly expanded (weaponry like the razor net and “combi-stick” – staples of the character’s image – are introduced), the most notable detail of which involves a glimpse at the Predator’s trophy case, lined with skulls of its previous conquests. What skull should be in the center but that of a xenomorph from the Alien series, touching off one of the most fanboy-ish crossovers in the known universe.

The score for Predator 2 doesn’t have the impact of the original, but an expansion of the short LP presentation would be welcomed.

Alan Silvestri, Predator 2: Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Varese Sarabande VSD- 5302, 1990)

  1. Main Title – 2:46
  2. First Carnage – 2:36
  3. Tunnel Chase – 4:53
  4. Truly Dead – 4:57
  5. Danny Gets It – 3:20
  6. Rest in Pieces – 1:34
  7. El Scorpio – 2:42
  8. This is History – 6:28
  9. Swinging Rude Boys – 2:41
  10. Dem Bones – 4:30
  11. End Title – 8:46

Twenty years after the last Predator film, the galaxy’s most dangerous hunter had applied his trade in comics (he fought Batman something like three times), video games (The Second Disc’s household spent a lot of cash renting Predator: Concrete Jungle for the PlayStation 2) and of course in two corny Alien vs. Predator films in 2004 and 2007 (that second trailers a bit violent, so wait a bit if you’re at work). Just when another film seemed unlikely, Fox came roaring back with Predators, a Robert Rodriguez-produced film that sees a group of soldiers and mercenaries displaced and hunted on the Predator home world. It lacks the immediacy of the original film (even the underrated sequel) but it’s still a killer popcorn muncher. And John Debney – the Emmy-winning composer known for his work on the T.V. show SeaQuest DSV and films like The Passion of the Christ and Iron Man 2 – created one of his strongest scores yet with Predators. Its success is due in no small part from utilizing the original themes from the first film, but it’s still a great listening experience on its own.

John Debney, Predators: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (La La Land Records LLLCD 1141, 2010)

  1. Free Fall – 3:06 *
  2. Single Shooter – 2:08 *
  3. This is Hell – 4:10 *
  4. Cages/Trip-Wire – 3:51
  5. Not of This Earth – 2:50
  6. Hound Attack – 4:08
  7. We Run We Die – 4:39
  8. Predator Attack – 1:46 *
  9. Meet Mr. Black – 1:15
  10. They See Our Traps – 2:26 *
  11. Over Here – 2:24
  12. Smoke – 2:38 *
  13. Nikolai Blows – 2:10 *
  14. Stan’s Last Stand – 1:49
  15. Hanzo’s Last Stand – 3:08 *
  16. Leg Trap – 2:22
  17. Take Me to the Ship – 2:04
  18. Edwin and Isabelle Captured – 1:33 *
  19. Predator Fight/Royce Runs – 3:15
  20. Twisted Edwin/Royce Returns – 3:25
  21. She’s Paralyzed – 6:05 *
  22. Royce vs. Predator – 2:39
  23. Let’s Get Off This Planet – 3:01
  24. Theme from “Predator”  – 1:45 *

* contains original Predator themes by Alan Silvestri

Written by Mike Duquette

July 30, 2010 at 11:11

Posted in Features, Reissues, Soundtracks

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  1. […] rumored, Intrada is bringing Alan Silvestri’s score to Predator (1987) back into print. First […]


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