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'Predator' Primer: Your Film Guide to the Iconic Sci-Fi Franchise

A 'Predator' Film Guide

Kimberley French

You may have heard: There's a new "Predator" movie coming out.

"The Predator," the latest spawn of a sci-fi series that dates back three decades, opens in theaters across the United States Friday (Sept. 14).

So we figured it would be a good time to take stock of that series, going through each of its entrants with a critical eye — and a calculator, to tally up the impressive body counts. We'll start, of course, with the iconic original. [The Biggest Space Movies to Watch in 2018]

"Predator" (1987)

Twentieth Century Fox

The rundown: An elite army rescue team is misled into accepting a mission deep in the Central American jungle. The soldiers soon find evidence that something out of the ordinary has happened, and like the troops they were supposedly rescuing, they begin to get picked off one by one by a hunter who hails from an alien planet.

This is the granddaddy of the franchise, and still generally considered the best "Predator" movie. It actually suffered from a number of quite serious problems during principal photography, including practical effects breaking down and widespread food poisoning from the food and water consumed on location. Originally, Jean-Claude Van Damme played the titular Predator in a "blue-screen" (actually red) suit. He quit after two days, unhappy with being cast as an uncredited special effect, but can be seen as the Predator in "If It Bleeds We Can Kill It: The Making of 'Predator'" (2001).

Our verdict: You just can't beat the original. OK, it has a few goofs, but it's a classic that still stands the test of time.

Director: John McTiernan

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger (Maj. Alan "Dutch" Schaefer), Carl Weathers (CIA operative Al Dillon) and Sonny Landham (Billy Sole)

Body count: 69 humans, 1 scorpion, 1 boar and 1 Predator

Cost: $18 million

Box office: $98.3 million

NEXT: "Predator 2" (1990)

"Predator 2" (1990)

Everett Collection

The rundown: The streets of Los Angeles have become a battlefield as the police department and drug cartels wage an all-out war. But a mysterious Other World Life Form (OWLF) begins targeting high-profile drug lords and attacks anyone armed. After most of his fellow officers are killed, one cop makes it his mission to find who, or what, is responsible.

The concrete jungle of Los Angeles replaces leafy Central America in the first sequel of the series. As far as sequels go, this one's not all that bad. In the backstory, Keyes (Busey) had learned of Dutch's (Schwarzenegger) encounter with the Predator, and he tracked Dutch down to a hospital, where eDutch was being treated for radiation sickness, a result of exposure to the Predator's self-destruct device.

After hearing Dutch's story, Keyes and the OWLF-hunting team are sent to the jungle to investigate. There, they discover evidence of a spaceship launch in the jungle, indicating that the dead Predator's ship had automatically returned to the alien's home world. Dutch later escaped from the hospital and vanished; thus, he didn't appear in the sequel.

Our verdict: This is a fun sequel that is enjoyable to re-watch every once in a while.

Director: Stephen Hopkins

Starring: Danny Glover (Lt. Michael Harrigan), Gary Busey (Special Agent Peter Keyes) and Bill Paxton (detective Jerry Lambert)

Body count: 45 humans, including cops, criminals and civilians; 1 Predator

Cost: $35 million

Box office: $57.1 million

NEXT: "AVP: Alien vs. Predator" (2004)

"AVP: Alien vs. Predator" (2004)

Everett Collection

The rundown: After an unusual heat signature has been detected under an abandoned whaling station in Antarctica, billionaire Charles Bishop Weyland assembles a team of scientists to investigate. They discover an ancient temple buried deep underground and unwittingly find themselves in the middle of a deadly battle to survive as two aggressive alien species try to kill each other for sport.

This marked the first attempt at the sci-fi franchise crossover between the "Alien" xenomorph and the Predator, which was rumored to be in development ever since an Alien skull was seen in the spaceship trophy room in "Predator 2." However, this melding of worlds had already proved successful in the comic book series written by Mark Verheiden before the release of the "Predator" sequel.

Our verdict: Some glimpses of genius can be seen here, like using the alien head as a shield. Unfortunately, however, some liberties are taken with the xenomorph gestation timescale.

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Starring: Sanaa Lathan (Alexa Woods), Lance Henriksen (Charles Bishop Weyland) and Raoul Bova (Sebastian De Rosa)

Body count: approximately 934 (a lot of aliens are killed in the flashback)

Cost: $60 million

Box office: $172.5 million

NEXT: "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" (2007)

"Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" (2007)

Everett Collection

The rundown: Directly following the events of the previous film, a Predator scout ship crashes in the forest outside Gunnison, Colorado. A xenomorphn-Predator hybrid and several facehuggers escape, implanting embryos into the locals. A distress signal is received on the Predator home world, and a skilled warrior travels to Earth to hunt and kill the aliens.

The film is underwhelming overall, but we get a nice little nugget of "Alien" info toward the end of the film, when Col. Stevens presents the Predator's plasma blaster to a woman named Ms. Yutani. She is obviously the founder of the Yutani Corporation, which was later reorganized as Weyland-Yutani when the two companies merged. So this means the Yutani Corporation knew about the xenomorphs and the Predators long before Ellen Ripley's first encounter with a xenomorph in "Alien" (1979).

Our verdict: Well, they can't all be good. This is a disappointing entry to say the least.

Directors: Colin Strause and Greg Strause

Starring: Steven Pasquale (Dallas Howard), Reiko Aylesworth (Kelly O'Brien) and Johnny Lewis (Ricky Howard)

Body count: 74 humans, 34 xenomorphs, 5 Predators, 1 facehugger, 1 xenomorph-Predator hybrid

Cost: $40 million

Box office: $129 million

NEXT: "Predators" (2010)

"Predators" (2010)

Rico Torres

The rundown: A select group of soldiers, mercenaries and a murderer must work together when they find themselves suddenly transported to a distant jungle-covered world, fighting for their very survival against alien hunters in what they realize is a vast, planet-size game preserve.

This film, which was produced by Robert Rodriguez, is the first really good foray in the "Predator" series since the original. This movie has numerous nods and references to 1987's "Predator": The characters find themselves on a jungle planet; Nikolai's (Oleg Taktarov) weapon is a M134 minigun; Isabelle (Alice Braga) knows of Dutch's (Arnold Schwarzenegger) deadly encounter with a Predator in the jungle of Guatemala and mentions it to Royce (Adrien Brody); Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien) holds off one of the Predators in armed combat with a sword, much like Billy tried to do (unsuccessfully); and Royce covers himself in cold mud to camouflage himself in his final climatic fight.

Our verdict: This is arguably the most underrated of all the movies and undoubtedly the second-best in the series.

Director: Nimród Antal

Starring: Adrien Brody (Royce), Alice Braga (Isabelle) and Topher Grace (Edwin)

Body count: just 13, the lowest of any "Predator" movie

Cost: $40 million

Box office: $127.2 million

NEXT: "The Predator" (2018)

"The Predator" (2018)

Kimberley French

The rundown: When a young boy accidentally triggers the return of the universe's most lethal hunters to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.

Our verdict: TBD. We'll soon find out if this movie delivers as much as we all hope it does.

Director: Shane Black

Starring: Olivia Munn (Casey Bracket), Boyd Holbrook (Quinn McKenna) and Thomas Jane (Baxley)

Body count: unknown

Cost: $88 million

Box office: TBD

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