WSTS Picaroon Platters Goes To The Movies: When Aliens Attack!
(free digital mixtape available at the end of this article!)
Like most other sensible people, I am very worried about the current state of things. The world is in a seemingly chaotic freefall of nightmarish proportions. War, famine, droughts in some areas, flooding in others, plague, too much heat and not enough oil are just some of the issues that are haunting planet Earth. It's enough to make the angels weep. So obviously this is the PERFECT time to rate the Predator movies just like everyone else is doing at the moment but this time it's in order of worst-to-best hairstyles LET'S FUCKING GOOOO!!!
AVPR: ALIENS VS PREDATOR - REQUIEM (2007)
Infamous for its use of darkness and awful characters, Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem is almost universally recognised as the worst film in the franchise. The Brothers Strause tried so hard to make this follow-up to the poorly-received Alien Vs Predator a more violent affair that they just plain forgot to make a good film. "Look at us, we're killing kids!" the directors seem to shout, except that it's about as edgy as an early 2000s nu metal music video.
An actual still from Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem
It doesn't help that the human drama is just SO DULL, with no real characters to root for. 'Dawson's Creek But With Violence' is all well and good for a one-line pitch, and to be honest that actually sounds like it would be fun, but Dawson's Creek was blessed with good writing, acting and most importantly LIKEABLE characters. If we don't care about the characters then we don't feel anything about them being in peril. And don't get me started on the hairstyles!
Nice haircut dickhead.
If you're going to populate your movie with moveable props instead of interesting personas then at least make it enthralling to look at (and I don't just mean sad exploitation-esque close-ups of a young woman's tight underwear-clad arse, which - yes - does happen in this film in a way that makes me wonder if Michael Bay came in to direct that specific scene). Now, I'm not saying that having good hairstyles would have made up for the lack of, well, anything that constitutes good characters, but it certainly would have helped.
Of course, the piss-poor cinematography (which, I should add, is 100% NOT the fault of Director of Photography Daniel Pearl who was more-or-less pulling out his own hair and bashing his face against a wall trying to convince the directors that the movie was going to look like shit, but to no avail) may not have allowed us to witness any glorious head mops in any of the night scenes (which constitute about 80% of the movie's run time) anyway so even this is just deranged wish fulfilment really.
Is this Ripley-clone a left-over from one of theGrudge films? Is that even hair draped over half of her face, or is it seaweed?
THE PREDATOR (2018)
A close contender for worse film of the franchise, The Predator only really wins over Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem purely for the fact that you can actually see what's happening. With its questionable representation of Autism, try-hard attempts at comedy, dumb plot and character actions that make little-to-no sense, audiences & critics were mostly hostile towards this disappointing attempt to renew the franchise after the bad taste the AVP films had left in everyone's collective mouth.
A stupid haircut for a stupidly written character.
Well-lit scenes aside, The Predator arguably does have something else going for it: violence. Oh yes, there's plenty of punching and shooting and blood and 'splosions and hair flying all around the place. But is it fun? More importantly, the hair: is it stylish? Alas, no.
Main Male Lead #1 sporting video game Main Male Lead hairstyle #3.
The rumour has it that writer/director Shane Black's original vision of The Predator was viciously assaulted by studio execs and as such the true cut of this smelly turd is still out there ready to be given the Snyder spit, polish and roll-in-glitter treatment. Thing is, I doubt the studio execs would have bothered punching their weight around in regards to the hairstyles on offer here, and as such the lack of mode should fall squarely on Black's shoulders. And we had such high hopes with Hawkins returning to the franchise!
In a way, there is an argument to be had which can make this movie worse than Requiem depending on how you look at it: the Aliens Vs Predator shitfest just had all-round crap characters and some mostly standard actors doing the best with what they were given, but in The Predator we actually have some great character actors who - had they appeared together in a different, more comedic, film - would likely have been far more entertaining. Instead they got crowbarred into whatever the fuck this is, and as such this feels like a larger wasted opportunity than AVPR ever did.
A sensible Munn hairstyle in a stupid nonsensical movie. C'mon Hollywood, how can you get Munn wrong?!
AVP: ALIEN VS PREDATOR (2004)
How do you fuck up such a cool concept as the predators from Predator somehow being involved with the aliens from Aliens? Well, you hand the project over to Paul WS Anderson. Anderson had already proved himself to be perfectly capable of making mediocre films out of hot IPs - see Mortal Kombat (1995) and Resident Evil (2002) - so he seemed like the completely safe, boring choice for this. An almost total lack of gore, fight scenes that looked more like wrestling matches, timeline buggery of both the Predator AND Alien franchises (that would thankfully be ignored in subsequent follow-ups, apart from AVPR) and some dodgy early 21st century CGI effects were just some of the issues that plagued the film. That being said though, the movie does have some merits.
Anime hair is awesome hair, but is one awesome hairstyle enough?
For all its faults - and it has many - AVP at least knows what it is and presents itself unapologetically. The set / production design is interesting and there does appear to be a little bit of an attempt at character development. One of the most memorable scenes, for me at least, features the main human character getting 'marked' and honoured as a warrior by the last Predator standing as they team up to face the alien horde oh god it sounds so shit when you see it typed out. Anyway, Lance Henriksen is in it which is always a plus for any film he's in (even that Hellraiser one).
Character development through hair: sensible mum hairstyle (left); sexy warrior queen hairstyle (right).
Alas, there isn't much in the way of hairstyles to actually see despite the numerous humans featured in the film. The story is set in the Antarctic and as such many characters are wearing hats. Do they sport sexy hats like the characters do in John Carpenter's The Thing? No of course not, that wouldn't have been banal enough. I think Paul WS Anderson may have taken to heart some of the criticisms of AVP - and most of his previous movies (Event Horizon aside) - being too bland, because pretty much everything he's done since (mostly Resident Evil sequels) have been balls-to-the-wall crazy and stupid. They're entertaining at least, in a horrible shlocky way, but AVP just feels like such a waste; the RE films were already fucked — half the fun with them was seeing how much worse they could get. We didn't think AVP could get much worse, but AVPR proved us wrong on that and as such it's made Alien Vs Predator just that little more palatable now.
You're in trouble when your character's flashlight is more interesting than their hair.
PREDATOR 2 (1990)
Ever wondered what Predator would look like if everyone making the film - in front of the camera and behind it - was on cocaine all the time and shouted a lot? Well wonder no more! Predator 2 is perhaps one of the more divisive entries in this franchise, featuring more Predator world-building, more of Alan Silvestri's awesome music, more explosions and also Gary Busey. Unfortunately it also features over-acting, poor dialogue, a fairly cliched plot and Gary Busey.
Gary Busey. When you're Gary Busey the hairstyle matters not.
I remember watching Predator 2 for the first time very well. I had friends round. We rented the movie on VHS (it had just been released on home video). We had pizza delivered. We drank some beer. We were thirteen years old. But even at that age - surely the perfect demographic for this film - we could sense that something was off, and I'm not just talking about the ham toppings on our pizza. Yes, the film was loud and bombastic, but it was also stupid, really stupid. The plot hackneyed and contrived. The concept of the Predator in the big city seemed like such a good idea... but to combine it with the stereotypical trappings of a detective cop action drama was just wrong. And for me Predator 2 has always been a disappointing watch even after all these years. Shame, because there are moments of greatness... such as the opening gun fight, the meat-packing district massacre, composer Alan Silvestri's introduction of Cuban Afro-rhythms to the already perfect score, somehow making it even better than the soundtrack to the first movie. and of course Maria Conchita Alonso's sexy end-of-the-80s-and-it's-now-the-90s haircut.
Sexy gun, sexy hair.
Maria's hair isn't the only hair on offer of course. Danny Glover goes for his classic Lethal Weapon look, which incidentally is pretty much the same haircut he's always had (you can't change perfection). Bill Paxton, aware that he was up against some stiff competition in the hair department, attempts to rope in the hat aficionados by sometimes wearing a hat and sometimes not, the big tease. Ruben Blades does the same but with more emphasis on the tease by mostly wearing a hat and only sometimes showing off his hairdo.
Middle-age dad at the front, party at the back.
It's interesting looking back at this film now and seeing how much hairstyles in 1997 Los Angeles would look like hairstyles from that weird crossover period of 1989-1991. Strangely enough, Demolition Man - the beginning of which was also set in the far-off future of 1997 - would probably be more accurate in its depiction of bangs & trimming.
Anyway, one of my friends got food poisoning from his pizza, so all-in-all it wasn't the greatest of times. You can't blame Predator 2 for that of course but we can certainly blame it for following the original Predator with this slice of disappointment.
Adam Baldwin - featuring a fairly standard Hollywood haircut à la douche - looks at Gary Busey's hair with a mixture of disgust and admiration, as it should be.
The first Predator film without those pesky xenomorphs to be made in twenty years! What delights would be waiting for us in this highly anticipated horror sci-fi action film? Well, lots of fan service unfortunately, and also the weird casting choice of Adrien Brody, but after the two AVP abortions this at least felt like a return to form, for the most-part. It's well-paced, has some interesting character dynamics helped massively by a great cast, and doesn't outstay its welcome. It's also set off-world - our world anyway - meaning that we can now have other weird monsters and poisonous plants and shit.
An immaculate haircut for an immaculate Yakuza, who now has a samurai sword for completely not contrived reasons.
Of course, the movie isn't perfect (there are in fact only three perfect movies: Citizen Kane, Mulholland Drive and of course Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever). The introduction of "Super Predators" just seemed superfluous — aren't they already enough of a threat? I suppose that the film-makers were concerned they would be under fire for not doing anything different. It's a silly reason really, because all they had to do was make sure the hairstyles were up-to-par... and they moistly succeeded... moistly.
If you're a fan of the "wet hair" look then you can't really go wrong with this film.
As the planet - or moon, or whatever - our characters find themselves on is of the warm & moist variety, it only seems fitting that haircuts are also warm & moist, so your enjoyment of the characters' hairstyles is really dependant on how you feel about greasy-looking hair. I grew up in the 80s and 90s so obviously I have a deep-rooted sexual fascination with over-gelled / moussed scalp-grass, making this film a no-brainer for me at least. That being said, not all haircuts are created equal in Predators. Laurence Fishburne, who's great in this and unfortunately doesn't have nearly enough screentime, sports a close-cut look that doesn't fit with his "marooned on an island for years" persona. The opportunity to see Fishburne with a decade-large afro was sadly missed and that's something I can't really forgive them for.
But who's been cutting his hair so neatly? WHO'S BEEN CUTTING HIS HAIR SO NEATLY?!
The latest instalment in the series isn't perfect (oh god WHY did it have to throw in that fan service link to Predator 2?!), but it did see the franchise return to its roots: ultimately a basic story of hunting, being hunted, preying, being prey and just general cat-and-mouse shenanigans, only instead of it being set in space or featuring heavily armed soldiers, it's set against the backdrop of a Comanche tribe circa the early 18th century. Flint weapons aplenty and lots of great hair... well, as far as the tribe goes anyway.
Shiny, with only a hint of flyaway.
The hair of the Comanche tribe's people is pretty much perfection but what this really does is highlight how terrible the rest of the cast's hair is. The Comanche hair is so wonderful - like everyone washes their locks with Ten Voss on regular intervals - that it makes the French trappers' hair utter piss in comparison, looking like they only wash it with stomach bile and ginger beer. Talk about letting the side down.
As for the accusations of the movie being "woke" and all that... nah. I think you'd only think that if you already had some kind of hang-up with females in general. Our leading lady grows as a character, has vulnerabilities that she overcomes, learns lessons along the way, has her arse handed to her on several occasions (she's no Mary Sue) and only really manages to hold her own when it counts (at the movie's climax). It's a perfect example of The Hero's Journey done right.
Hair so healthy it shines.
One of the best films of the 80s and arguably Arnold Schwarzenegger's best movie, Predator manages to cleverly morph into different genres across its 107 minute running time, straddling action, horror and sci-fi with such confidence that you forget it's any of those things as you watch it, too invested in the story as it unfurls to really give a shit about genre labels, despite the movie using 80s action tropes to help hammer home the nightmare these mercs are up against. It's testosterone-riddled action men slowly getting emasculated as they go up against a vagina-faced horror alien, and it's fucking brilliant. Thankfully the hairstyles are brilliant too.
If it grows, we can cut it.
Dutch (Schwarzenegger) is a no-nonsense, cigar-smoking, CIA-hating death machine, and his short, no-nonsense, cigar-scented hair is indicative of his character. Blain (Jesse Ventura) has a bald-spot so sexy that he spends most of his time wearing a hat to stop ladies fainting at the mere sight of him as he chews his tobacco, and Bill Duke (Mac) is so fucking awesome he doesn't even need hair.
The epitome of cool: Sonny Landham doesn't care if you think he looks like Albert Finney in a wig... and THAT'S what makes him cool.
The best part of Predator is, of course, the end titles where we get cheesy sitcom-style close-ups of the main cast looking at the camera and smiling so we don't feel so bad about most of the characters being dead. It's one last opportunity to check out most of that glorious 1987 merc hair (the ones not covered by army hats anyway), like director John McTiernan knew exactly what we needed to see in order to ease us back into the real world. Gonna miss you, Poncho. You didn't deserve to go out like that.
South American terrorist chic.
Seems like as good a place as any to share this.
WSTS Picaroon Platters Goes To The Movies: When Aliens Attack!
Continuing our series of film music for our Mixcloud channel WSTS Picaroon Platters Radio, I thought it would be fun to continue the theme of humans finding themselves under attack from beings not-of-this-earth by putting together a mix of cues & songs taken from alien attack movies. As always, it's FREE to listen to — just click on the link here to go to directly to the mix on Mixcloud: https://www.mixcloud.com/WSTS_Picaroon_Platters_Radio/wsts-picaroon-platters-goes-to-the-movies-when-aliens-attack/
Alternatively you can stream the mix directly from this page by using one of the conveniently embedded widgets below!
As for the music itself... well, like alien visitations on Earth, sometimes it's better not to know anything about it, but for those of you who are curious cats, you can find the tracklist further down the page (extra street cred if you can name all the films without looking!).
WSTS PICAROON PLATTERS GOES TO THE MOVIES: WHEN ALIENS ATTACK!
WSTS Picaroon Platters Radio
(compiled & mixed by Mark Anthony Finch)
- Mark Anthony Finch