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Monday April 22nd 2024

Predator | 1987

Predator filming location: El Eden, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Predator location: the waterfall from which Arnie leaps: Misol Ha, Palenque, Mexico | Photograph: wikimedia / Inakiherrasti

Major ‘Dutch’ Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his elite squad meet up with a semi-invisible, near-invincible monster in the ‘South American’ jungle. After the exciting build-up and demonstrations of truly scary prowess, the creature inexplicably resorts to fisticuffs. No Contest.

The movie was filmed in Mexico near the popular beach resort of Puerto Vallarta, on the coast 400 miles west of Mexico City. John Huston’s 1964 film adaptation of Tennessee WilliamsThe Night Of The Iguana, with Richard Burton and Ava Gardner, had previously put Puerto Vallarta on the map as a resort when it was filmed at Mismaloya, just to the south. This was at the height of the Burton-Taylor media frenzy, and when the couple went on to buy houses here.

The old set, outside Puerto Vallarta, is now part of a leisure complex. It’s a half hour drive from downtown Puerto Vallarta on Hwy 200, to turn off at El Eden (just past Mismaloya Beach), followed by a 15 minute drive into the jungle.

Predator filming location: El Eden, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Predator location: the Predator set: El Eden, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico | Photograph: wikimedia / Ann Larie Valentine

Jungle scenes also used the lush greenery in the south of the country around Palenque, in the state of Chiapas, where you’ll find the two waterfalls used in the climax of the movie.

The 100-feet drop down which Dutch (or quite possibly a stunt double) leaps, is the waterfall at Misol Ha, 18 miles south-west of Palenque (beginning and end of the sequence), just over a mile west of Hwy 199, the Palenque-Ocosingo road.

There’s a tourist centre, which offers cabin accommodation, restaurants, a craft store, and a walkway from which you can view the 100-feet-high falls.

Predator filming location: El Eden, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Predator location: the series of cascades: Agua Azul, Palenque, Mexico

The series of smaller cascades through which he manages to swim for a final confrontation with the Predator, is the Cascadas de Agua Azul (Blue Water Falls), part of a National Park 10 miles further southwest, and just over 40 miles from Palenque by the road to San Cristóbal de las Casas.

Palenque, by the way, was a Mayan city which flourished between 500 and 700AD. After its decline, it was overrun by jungle but its buildings and temples have now been excavated and restored as an archaeological site which regularly attracts thousands of visitors. The Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque, a few miles west of the city, is now a Unesco World Heritage site.