The movie Predator was filmed in the jungles of Mexico, so you can imagine that came with its fair share of horrors. Sweltering heat and humidity, swarms of insects, snakes, scorpions and did we mention the stifling heat?
For the film’s 30th anniversary, The Hollywood Reporter put together an oral history of the making of the film and the most noteworthy stuff centers around what it was really like filming in a makeshift hell.
Actor John Chaves played the character Poncho in the film and he recalled one of his first days filming in the “raw” jungle.
” A lot of it was raw jungle that we were running through when we were in the week rehearsal,” he said. “And we took a break one day, and I checked the area out, you know, where I was gonna sit my butt down, and laid down, and next thing I know I am covered in red ants. I was bitten almost 100 times down both my arms, and went into a little bit of shock, was running through the jungle ripping my clothes off, butt naked. They had a water tank, and I went into the water tank and just doused myself.”
Bill Duke, who played Mac, also had a creepy crawler kind of experience. But he said the heat and humidity were the biggest issues.
“We’re talking about hot heat — and humid heat. We’re not talking about 80 degrees. We’re talking about 90-something or more,” he said. “We’re talking about having to wear this gear that is heavy itself, and then the guns and stuff, and mine was like a gun off a battleship machine gun. So you’re carrying your body weight, you have clothing on, and then you’re crawling through the jungle on your stomach and there are coral snakes and spiders and scorpions and a lot of different things.”
The funniest story of the making of the movie involved Jean-Claude Van Damme, who was originally cast as the monster but was fired multiple times during filming. The first time, producer Joel Silver axed him for passing out too many times.
“…[Van Damme] had to wear a felt suit that covered his whole body, and with 90 and 100 degree temperatures, he passed out twice from dehydration,” Duke said. “And Joel came over and said, “Jean, I know it’s hot, but we’re losing time, man. If you pass out one more time, we gotta fire you.” So Jean says, “I’m not doing it on purpose!” Joel says, “Man, this is production. Don’t take it personally.” So two weeks went by, and he’s flying on these wires in trees and everything and he passes out, and Joel comes and tells him, “You’re fired.”
The second time ended up being the last. When Silver told Van Damme to stop kickboxing because the Predator isn’t a kickboxer, Van Damme resisted. And Silver let him go on the spot.
According to visual effects supervisor Joel Hyanek, Silver said to Van Damme, “Well, you’re fired. Get out of here.” And Van Damme said, “Kiss my balls!” walked out, and that was the end of that.