"I'll be back." OK, so that's totally the wrong Arnold Schwarzenegger movie; but, hear us out – it's still relevant.
Why? Because 12th September 2018 marks the release of The Predator, and the return of everyone's favourite heat-seeking, extra-terrestrial killing machine. Having already cut a swathe through three standalone movies (the first of which starred Arnie) and two spin-offs, the monsters are even larger this time around.
The hunt has evolved, and so too have the stakes. That classic hunter-becomes-the-hunted trope gets a serious shake-up as Earth is besieged by a new species: the Super Predator. They're smarter, stronger and all together deadlier.
Bringing the horror home to American suburbia after a young boy inadvertently triggers their return, The Predator follows a misfit group of ex-soldiers who must go toe-to-toe with the universe's most lethal hunters in a desperate bid to save mankind. It probably goes without saying, but the odds don't look too favourable for our gaggle of Earth-dwellers…
To whet your appetite for the alien anarchy soon to be hitting our cinema screens, scroll down for a handy recap of the Predator series so far…
Garnering something of a cult following after an underwhelming reaction upon first release, Predator is not only the film that inaugurated one of cinema's most iconic villains. It's also the bedrock – along with the Terminator franchise – upon which our love for all things Arnie is firmly built.
Taking inspiration from the classic slasher horror, with subtle shades of author Joseph Conrad's seminal Heart of Darkness, the film takes place in the dense, guerrilla-held jungle of an unspecified region of Central America – an environment alien in itself. There, a team of elite military personnel, including Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, and Shane Black (the co-writer and director of The Predator), embark on a hostage rescue mission, during which they stumble across an enemy more dangerous than any of them could have ever imagined.
From there, the Predator makes its cinematic entrance in a flurry of blood, smoke and memorable, instantly quotable one-liners. It's the ultimate pumped-up, action-fuelled fright-fest that sees a muscular, towering force of nature go up against an alien with dreads.
Predator 2 (1990)
From a deep, humid jungle to the hot, sticky concrete urban variety – the extraterrestrial hunter is now unleashed on near-future Los Angeles.
With no Arnie in sight, the mantle of Predator disposal expert passes to Lethal Weapon's Danny Glover – here playing an LAPD officer investigating a heated cartel war between the Jamaicans and Colombians. The city of angels has its fair share of devils, but none more devilish than the Predator, who once again wreaks violent havoc, this time across the densely populated streets and high-rise buildings of California.
Following largely the same narrative path as its original – perhaps with an added dose of social commentary – Predator 2 marks the first time we are introduced to the idea that the Predator is not a single entity, but in fact part of a larger species. Eagle-eyed viewers among you might also have noticed a distinctively shaped skull in a trophy room during a scene aboard the Predator spacecraft, belonging to another equally iconic extra-terrestrial villain. Which leads us nicely to…
Alien vs Predator (2004)
Marvel might be owning the whole cinematic universe thing right now, but the Predator did it before it was even cool. Joining forces with the chest-bursting Alien franchise, the movie sees the Predator, Xenomorph and a group of disposable scientists battle it out in a triple-threat match to the death in the icy landscapes of the Antarctic.
Doing pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, the film – originally a comic book series in the late 80's – brings together two heavyweights of science-fiction horror and gives them a snowy stage on which to do more than just throw snowballs at each other. Writer/director Paul W. S. Anderson provides extensive backstory to the Predators for the first time – namely, their influence throughout human history and their involvement in the construction of the pyramids.
Alien vs Predator: Requiem (2007)
A Predator-Alien hybrid was always going to be on the cards, wasn't it? Well, not only does Requiem introduce the concept of a 'Predalien' (no prizes for guessing it's the two species blended together), it also takes the franchise back to its slasher roots when a spacecraft carrying the aforementioned concoction crash-lands in a Colorado woodland and terrorises a small local town and its inhabitants.
Again, the human race is caught in the crossfire of a raging war between two alien species, and our central band of everyday heroes – neither public service nor militant this time round – struggle to survive the carnage.
Paying homage to the original more than 20 years after its initial release – even reviving Little Richard's toe-tapping Long Tall Sally – Predators takes us back to the jungle with a group of Earth's most skilled killers, including Academy Award winners Adrien Brody and Mahershala Ali.
Although here's the catch: they're no longer on Earth. Unbeknownst to the group at first – and the only time in the series thus far – the humans have been dropped right into the middle of the Predators' turf. Only this time, it's less of a fight, and more a leisurely spot of game hunting for the domestic inhabitants. While there, a trio of 'Super Predators' pick off their human prey in a galactic game of cat and mouse.
And, eight years on from Predators, the Super Predator is set to make its big screen comeback in The Predator. Actually, it's the beast's first chronological appearance – that's because The Predator takes place between the events of Predator 2 and Predators…
Click here to book your tickets for The Predator, opening in Cineworld cinemas nationwide from 12th September.
George Nash is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.