Sunday, 26 January 2014

If It Bleeds We Can Kill It / Part 3 Behind The Scenes Look At The Predator

So at last we get to the special effects and, in a movie like Predator how could we forget them.Between the main character disappearing before our very eyes, Carl Weathers having his arm blown off and the infamous 'razor break' scene coupled with, of course, the amazing multi-vision sight of the Predator.
Let us start with the 'Dylan losing his arm' scene where Carl Weather’s character decides to take 
on the Predator while wielding two MP5 machine guns. Fans that can recall the VHS version will find this scene slightly hilarious. To be fair I hadn't personally noticed the wardrobe malfunction until I saw it on one of those movie mistake sights. Since then however, I couldn't take my eyes off it-finding it so damn obvious!

The mistake I am referring to was evident when he turned, screaming(as he had just been shot with a blazing hot bolt of plasma),  and as his arm fell from his side, its tattered fleshy remains continued to fire the gun in an epic slow motion, bullet stuttering scene of violence-it was. Only when you looked more closely and realised that his severed arm was in fact tucked behind his back and a carefully placed prop took the fall. By the time DVD version came out, this part had been edited, but I thought I'd put a picture in for comedy value. Classic misdirection.

For the most part, the Predator spent the movie ‘cloaked’ appearing as nothing more than a smudged blur as the technology of its armour bent the light around it. The special FX team on Predator achieved this through use of a red suited predator (the normal use of a green suit/background wouldn't have created any contrast against the jungle so red was employed)They then later used computer aided graphics to add in the blurred image over the top of the red suit to give the impression that light was passing through its cloaked form.

The heat seeking vision of the predator was achieved by amalgamating different spectrum's into one. Firstly, the heat of the jungle was intense and therefore the standard heat vision cameras would not have been able to decipher the body heat from the jungle itself. So by taking two cameras, one switched to opposite colour schemes to pick out the heat in blues, and then the other camera to work as standard red and oranges, they were then able to amalgamate the two images so that when played back the actors heat signatures became clearer against the blue background of the jungle. Thus creating the hunters ability to pick out its targets through the dense jungle canopy.

Throughout the movie there were many stunts performed with props and a lot of well timed explosives. The scene for example, when ‘Blaine’ falls with a hole burst in his chest and Mack picks up the mini-gun and starts dismantling the jungle with thousands of rounds of angry bullets fired in vengeance. The scene had to be well constructed, with explosives placed in the trees and logs, all timed to go off at precise moments to give the effect that the carnage was being wrought with the weapons fire which, in all honesty, would not level the jungle in the manner it did. According to the movie, all you need is a Gatling Gun, grenade launcher, M16 Assault Rifle and some MP5 machine guns and one can completely level the jungle of all trees and life for fifty yards. Gotta love movie thinking!

Lastly we get to the Mack razor scene, the one effect that still makes me cringe to this day. The more I think about it, the more I wonder how he never tore a larger piece of his cheek off in the process, that is of course had the razor been real.

The movie has him neurotically shaving his smooth skin over and over as he lies in wait of the Predator. Losing focus, he begins to press even harder against his face until eventually the razor snaps against his cheek and leaves a thin line of blood in its wake. Apart from being a good advertisement for Bic, I have yet to see anyone do this in a movie since. The scene did however, remind  me of an incident I had myself when I bought twenty razors from the pound shop. Yes you guessed it, they cost me a pound, 5p a razor. Although this scene is very similar to what happened when I tried to use them!

For this scene to work, the razor prop was drilled up through the handle allowing a thin tube filled with the fake(I hope it was fake blood but for this blog lets just say they used hamster blood-really spark an outrage here)
By removing the blade it allowed him to shave over and over and then, when pressed, the blood left the top of the razor onto his face. With respect to Bill Duke, he did indeed snap that against his skin with unpredictable outcomes. I am not sure how many razors they went through for that part but in the interests of safety


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