35 years ago today, Predator was released to shocking reviews

The prequel, Prey, arrives in August.

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

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

It had a budget of $22 million and was a moderate success, grossing $64 million in North America alone (worldwide box office not recorded, for some reason), and reviews were also moderately favorable towards it, as the film scored 67% on Metacritic.

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

Yeah, Arnie’s action movie which is actually a horror movie was released in theaters as some kind of macho counter-programming movie, hoping to appeal to men, while women flocked to see Nicholson as a horny demon.

Surprisingly, Predator had a much smaller budget than The Eastwick Witches (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 that wasn’t shocking enough, critics didn’t care at all, landing with a score of just 45% on Metacritic.

Looking back, some of the reviews are actually pretty hilarious:

The Los Angeles Times: “It’s arguably one of the most empty, weak, derivative storylines ever made as a major studio movie.”

The Washington Post: “Frankly, scarier creatures have taken up residence in bad hotels.”

Chronicle of San Francisco: “The film, a rather pointless thing at bottom, has little of the provocative cleverness found in Terminator.”

The New York Times: “Alternately macabre and dull, with few surprises.”

Of course, hindsight reframed Predator as one of Arnie’s best films and one of the greatest (and only) mixes of action and horror ever made.

For director John McTiernan, it came just a year before Die Hard, making it a killer punch (and the third punch two years later, with The Hunt For Red October).

For Arnie, from his filmography, Predator had a lower critical score than Conan The Destroyer, Commando, The Running Man, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, and barely landed above Last Action Hero (another of his films which been reassessed over time).

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

Excerpts via Classic MovieClips

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