One of the most popular movies in the world and a testament to the brilliance of 80’s cinema, John McTiernan’s Predator which features Arnold Shwazenegger at his macho peak follows six veteran members of a rescue team who are brutally picked off only by one by some mysterious creature stalking and hunting them.
This is the predator, with its emotionless mask, wrist blades and thermal vision, the humans struggle to find creative ways to trap the monster and bring him down for good.
McTiernan states the idea of the film was from a joke he would tell his friends that the only person Rocky could not take down in a fight was E.T, and with growing ideas from McTiernan and surrounding directing staff and some nudges from the likes of James Cameron, the intense action movie was born.
The movie is a great macho filled adventure with an incredible legacy, but it can also be very intense and quite frightening, and much of this owes to the predator and the luxurious jungle he resides in.
With only 8 minutes of screentime, we often only hear the predator stalking Dutch (Schwazenegger) and the crew through the jungle and across the clear waterfalls creating a really isolated feeling similar to that of Alien years before, but where is this lush scenery? and can you visit it?
We have compiled everything you need to know about the locations used on the Predator set below.
Main Locations Used For Filming
The lush jungles we see from when the rescue team lands and through to the end of the film is in Mismaloya, Mexico in the dense jungles near the beach resort of Puerto Vallarta.
Some jungle scenes were also filmed around Palenque which also features the iconic waterfall seen in the film’s climax.
Also being the shooting environment for John Hunston’s 1964 ‘Night Of The Iguana’, the Puerto Vallarta and Palenque jungles are colorful but very dense, something McTiernan and the crew would use perfectly to conceal the predator’s identity until the time was right.
Interestingly, because Mexican jungles are deciduous, the crew added a few fake leaves to the trees to make it seem just that much more inescapable.
If you’re a Predator super fan and want to see iconic areas such as the Waterfall and the rebel camp, then lucky for you essentially the entire set can be visited with homages dotted everywhere to the film.
Puerto Vallarta is filled with restaurants all keeping in the predator theme, and hotel bars showing the film regularly and weekly.
The ‘Rebel Camp’ that you may recognise from the gang residing there throughout the film has since been turned into an eco park with many water activities and restaurants remaining connected to the movie.
It is hard to miss the giant predator statue standing on top of one of the leftover helicopters from the film, and it’s always a treat to visit the restaurant nearby and tuck into some of ‘Arnold’s Special’ or the ‘Predator’s Shrimp’.
How Was The Actors Experience?
Actors since the movie’s release back in the 80’s have come out to explain that while filming on set was great fun and something much different to what they had all done before, the harsh temperature of the dense Mexican jungle made it difficult at times.
Many of the actors, including Arnie of course, would get up as early as 3:00am to work out and be prepped for the action on set for the day before going on to carry military armor, grenades and battleship worthy machine guns that are the equivalent of a person’s body weight, all under the scorching sun.
While these scenes may look like a blast to shoot, it’s hard to imagine how the actors held all their equipment for so long.
All the night scenes were also filmed in the freezing cold, which became even colder for Arni whose character Dutch decides to wear mud for most of the second half of the film to disguise from the predator.
Some animals also caused the actors some irritation, Richard Chaves has told the story of how any time he would go to sit down and take a breather between intense action scenes, he would immediately be covered in red ants.
Aside from the temperature and a few troublesome bugs, the crew actually has some great stories from their time in Mexico shooting the film.
Richard Landon has detailed one day where a bunch of frogs jumped onto the crew’s lawn, so as a fun prank the crew decided to collect some of the frogs “Half a loaf in bread and size” and drop them in Arnie’s room.
What they weren’t preempting however was for Arnie’s wife, Maria Shriver, to be the one waking up to a dozen frogs hopping around her room, and fair to say she was not happy.
Where Is The Waterfall?
No one who has seen Predator can forget the fist to fist brawl at the end between Dutch and the predator, and the humongous waterfall where Dutch makes his daring escape jumping from.
There are actually two waterfalls, the first which is featured less in the film is Agua Azul, while the other which Arnie jumps from is Misol Ha, also in Mexico and only 18 miles southwest from Palenque.
The beautiful waterfall can be freely visited today and when you learn that Arnie and the crew had to be sent by helicopter to get on top, it becomes believable when face to face with the 35 meters tall landmark surrounded by beautiful tropical vegetation, and even being safe to swim in.
The lush waterfall is definitely worth visiting for any Predator fan to be right where the action was.
Not only is the environment of Predator so recognisable and lush to look at, it is now easier than ever to visit the locations yourself and allow yourself to become immersed in one of the greatest action sets cinema history has ever seen.
If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy our post on ‘Where Was Predator Filmed?‘.