cover image Predator: A Memoir, a Movie, an Obsession

Predator: A Memoir, a Movie, an Obsession

Ander Monson. Graywolf, $16 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-1-64445-200-4

The cult 1987 sci-fi horror movie exposes the male heart of darkness, according to this rueful homage. Novelist and critic Monson (Vanishing Point), who’s watched Predator—in which Arnold Schwarzenegger and other armed mercenaries battle an extraterrestrial big-game hunter—some 146 times over three decades, gives a scene by scene, sometimes frame by frame analysis. He admires the flick’s visual effects and nuanced characterizations, along with the sheer panache of its over-the-top violence (“It’s brilliant. Dillon screams. The camera lingers on his disconnected arm. The arm still pulses with simulated blood, the finger twitching on the trigger, bullets flying”). He further dissects its rendition of a manly archetype of combative, emotionally repressed men spewing quips amid the carnage, one that he connects to serial killings, the January 6 riot, and other masculinist pathologies. Monson riffs on such tangents as rocker Little Richard, shoot-’em-up video games, and the gay actor who portrayed the alien Predator, and explores the movie’s resonance with his youthful miscreancy in rural Michigan dabbling in amateur explosives and computer crime. Written in loose-jointed yet elegant prose that guiltily savors Predator’s pleasures, Monson’s subtle, twisty appreciations and critiques—”It’s satire wrapped in gun pornography.... tenderness wrapped in beefy macho posturing and explosive ballets”—transform the movie into a penetrating commentary on the contradictions of manhood. Movie buffs will want to snap this up. (Sept.)