Dan Trachtenberg’s superb Prey, the fifth main installment of the Predator franchise, has hit the screens of Hulu subscribers, and it alone is worthy of at least one month’s subscription. The film gets back to basics, pitting one of the series’ titular alien hunters, the Yautja, against a single skilled warrior.
Naturally, Amber Midthunder’s Naru isn’t the only Prey on the menu for the newest Predator, as the creature has plenty of screentime on the hunt. But John McTiernan’s 1987 classic and Trachtenberg’s newest aren’t the only excellent films to feature an antagonist that views humans not as peers or even sustenance (at least, not just), but rather just something beneath it, disposable. Like the T-800 in The Terminator, the Yautja and similar creatures can’t be reasoned with, but the latter type manages to be scarier than the former because the T-800 and T-1000 were assassins on a mission, while the Yautja is doing what it enjoys.
Michael Myers In Halloween (1978)
Halloween’s Michael Myers is a flesh and blood human being, but viewers have to wonder just how warm that blood is. Furthermore, Myers isn’t exactly shown bleeding often, so the audience could be forgiven for thinking he might have the glimmering blood of a Yautja.
But that’s unlikely, because Michael doesn’t carry different, interesting masks like the Predators, as he prefers utter and entire anonymity. Of course, by the time he put it back on in David Gordon Green’s Halloween (2018), the blank-faced mask was iconic to the residents of Haddonfield and beyond. Yet, even then, Michael was able to hunt in the broad moonlight, though he doesn’t swing wildly, he selects his target, sneaks in, and strikes.
The Xenomorph In Alien (1979)
The Xenomorph led the charge of galactic terrors as the 1970s turned to the 1980s. Often copied shortly after its release—and even now—Ridley Scott’s Alien is the definitive haunted house film that’s not actually in a haunted house. The thought of being stuck on that claustrophobic shuttle is enough to send a shiver up the viewer’s spine, but toss in “the perfect organism” and that thought becomes a best-case scenario. Like its alien brethren the Yautja, the Xenomorph is vicious and methodical, with an obvious preference for sneaking ever since its first adult appearance, descending upon Harry Dean Stanton’s Brett as he searches for his cat.
The Xenomorph has even been cinematically paired with the Yautja twice, though both Alien vs. Predator and AvP: Requiem are borderline unwatchable. The truth is there’s too much cinema and comics lore for there not to be a good potential AVP movie, and it’s a “vs. movie” Redditors would love to see, it just needs the right director and scribe.
Boba Fett In The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Boba Fett is under contract for his work in The Empire Strikes Back, but he is still hunting “human” beings (from all planets). Furthermore, he’s so proficient at it that he’s risen to the top of his not-so illustrious field. Boba Fett’s competitive nature has made bounty hunting, whether it be intentionally or inadvertently, very much a competitive sport, and he will always win.
The character has recently been expanded courtesy of the Disney+ series The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, and he’s now far more than the cold-hearted marksman of The Empire Strikes Back, but it’s not hard to imagine that version of him lying too far below the surface.
Jason Voorhees In Friday The 13th Part II (1981)
In Friday the 13th (1980), Pamela Voorhees had a concrete motive: revenge. Friday the 13th Part II features Jason’s only instance of methodical killing in Alice, the protagonist of the first film (and an F13 character Redditors think should have lived), but outside of that opening scene, the younger Voorhees has retained a motive-free one-track mind.
No matter if he’s on his typical stomping ground of Camp Crystal Lake (or Forest Green), a cruise ship, New York, or outer space, he doesn’t eat or sleep, he just stalks and kills. Jason has devoted almost every moment of his life to his sport, and his “soul” has no room for anything else.
Cujo In Cujo (1983)
The St. Bernard in Cujo didn’t always hunt humans for sport. In fact, he once didn’t hunt humans at all. But rabies took a hold of the good boy’s mind and he turned into something else. That very believable plot makes the titular dog all the more frightening.
Dogs can be scary enough when they’re protecting their humans or home, but Cujo carried that same intensity while trying to get his teeth on a kid cowering in a Ford Pinto, making him truly a nightmare come to life.
The Vampires In The Lost Boys (1987)
The Lost Boys are vampires, so they require blood to survive, but they’re also a little more. They see human beings as a source of food, yes, but they also view people and their attempts at humanity as laughable. In their eyes, the world’s a mess, and humans are just flies swarming around it.
Dracula doesn’t show any joy when he takes a life, and even the hilarious bloodsucking undead of What We Do in the Shadows are more passive with people than outright hostile. David and the rest of The Lost Boys view murder as a passion, not a necessity.
The Yautja In Predator (1987)
If any legend of cinema is known for its thrill of the pursuit, it’s the Yautja. It’s such a defining part of the beast’s personality that it serves to give the audience some insight into its mind. Knowing that the monster is methodical and intelligent is scary enough, but then the third act reveals the creature’s physical appearance to be as repulsive as its intentions.
Unlike many 1980s horror (or action-horror in Predator’s case) antagonists, the Yautja has the ability to speak to its prey. But it rarely does so, and when it does it’s only to mock, showing just how much contempt the alien species has for homo sapiens.