"Here we are again bro... Just you and me. Same kind of moon same kind of jungle. Real number 10 remember."
The year was 1989. I was home sick from school with nothing but a copy of Predator on a VHS tape recorded off of cable, my GI JOES, and my imagination.
Predator had come out in 1987, during the pinnacle of the Schwarzenegger action film era. Being rated R I had to wait until it came out on cable to see it. When it did I quickly recorded it and watched it over, and over, and over again.
Predator featured a team of bad assed mercenary soldiers sent in as a hostage rescue team to save some diplomats who had strayed over the border, whose chopper was shot down, and who were captured by guerrilla forces in a remote Central/South American Jungle."Simple setup. One-day operation. We pick up their trail at the chopper, run 'em down, grab those hostages and bounce back across the border before anybody knows we were there."
Only problem was the CIA contact lied to get them in there to take out the guerrillas and recover intel that their own men failed to do on a reconnaissance mission and subsequent previous rescue mission by the green berets."So you cooked up a story and dropped the six of us in a meat-grinder?"
Little did the team know they were being hunted by an otherworldly predator who skinned the previous team alive and collects human skulls as trophies for fun.
Obviously the stuff little boys' dreams are made of. My mind raced as I re-watched the film for the twentieth time on how to recreate this awesomeness in my own living room. The answer, my mom's potted plants.
Crawling off of my sick bed (the couch smothered in blankets and tissue boxes) I scurried around the house gathering all the plants around my house.
All the ferns, ficus, and peace lilies were stacked on the coffee table until I had a veritable jungle in my living room.
I even had a river using my emesis basins back to back to form an "S" shaped river with my large throw up bowl as the lake. For those of you who don't know what an emesis basin is it is this weird thing shaped like a kidney bean to puke in, and for some reason my mom had more than one."I've seen some bad-ass bush before, man, but nothin' like this.""Makes Cambodia look like Kansas."
I populated my jungle with little rubber snakes and a crocodile.
Setting ... check! Now for the cast!
Utterly disappointed that no toy makers of my day (Kenner, Hasbro, Mattel, Remco etc.) had made any Predator toys I was left to my own imagination.
Luckily I had a plethora of GI JOES!
Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
Gung Ho as Dutch
Dillon (Carl Weathers aka Action Jackson and Apollo Creed)
Stalker as Dillon
Mac (Bill Duke)
Roadblock as Mac
Blain (Jesse the Body Ventura former Underwater Demolitions Team)
Recondo as Blain
Billy (Sonny Landham)
Spirit as Billy
Poncho (Richard Chaves)
Leatherneck as Poncho
Hawkins (Shane Black)
Repeater as Hawkins
Anna (Elpidia Carrillo)
Well I never included her in my imaginary play. She fell behind."She's your baggage. You fall behind, and you're on your own."
"Sergeant what did you see?"
Finally the Predator (Kevin Peter Hall glad they picked him man this movie would have sucked if they stuck with their first choice Jean-Claude Van Damme!)"It changed colors, like the chameleon, it uses the jungle."
Van Damme original Predator screen Test
Granted my Joe Predator looked more like the terrible Van Damme version but what could a kid do? I used my imagination.
Alley Viper as the Predator
I always gave him the Wolverine claw that came with Storm Shadow so he would have a Predator claw.
And since it was my own little world I also had extra soldiers as Predator fodder! Jim Hopper's men Green Berets out of Fort Bragg!
Rock & Roll
As my figures raced over the fertilized soil of the potted plants and waded the rivers of throw up pan they tried to avoid the cunning Predator to no avail.
Immersed in my little world of pretend I didn't notice the sound of the door opening until my mom screamed, "What did you do to my plants?"
. I guess playtime is over. "Get to the Chopper!"
(properly pronounced Chawpuh!)
Until next time, "Stick around"
Special thanks to Yo JOE and Forgotten Figures for the awesome pictures of GI JOE that I borrowed from the web!"That's a real nasty habit you got there."
http://forgotten-figures.blogspot.com/"Ole painless is waitin'."