Is ‘The Predator’ Based on a True Story?

Is The Predator based on a true story? Straightforward answer: No. The Predator is obvious fiction, written by director Shane Black (The Nice Guys) and Fred Dekker (Night of the Creeps). It’s a sequel to a 1987 movie starring a bodybuilder, professional wrestler and football player, who fight a man in a foam latex suit.

But when it comes to aliens crash landing on Earth, warring with Special Forces soldiers, escaping government labs deep underground only to square off against a motley gang of oddballs and eccentrics, nothing’s straightforward. It’s a description that fits both The Predator and a number of claimed real-life events, believed by thousands of UFO watchers, New World Order paranoids and conspiracy theorists the world over.

The events of The Predator certainly sound implausible (discussing them will involve spoilers):

A rift in predator society results in a predator fugitive crash landing on Earth, where he’s defeated in combat by a Special Forces sniper and taken to an extraterrestrial research lab hidden deep underground. The captured predator escapes, but is soon tracked down by a hybridized giant predator, just one of the predator species’ many efforts at genetic engineering (the fugitive predator’s genetic code includes human DNA, inserted to unknown ends). This predator tracker hunts human and predator alike, doing everything in his power to prevent predator technology from falling into human hands.

But, according to the testimony of completely discredited cranks, a secret military base stuffed with human-alien hybrids HAS been the site of an extraterrestrial war, pitting Special Forces soldiers against warring alien factions deep underground. Their story has substantial overlap with the plot of The Predator. All that’s needed is for the war to finally break out, onto the surface.

Secret Underground Bases

It doesn’t take long after the predator crashes at the beginning of The Predator before Agent Traeger (Sterling K. Brown), head of a secret government program called Project Stargazer, is on the scene to capture the wounded predator and take it to a laboratory hidden beneath a hydroelectric dam.

the-predator-alien-autopsy In 'The Predator,' a predator is captured and brought to the Project Stargazer laboratory, in a scene reminiscent of rumored alien autopsies. 20th Century Fox

Project Stargazer and their hidden base are evocative of numerous UFO coverup conspiracy theories. Early rumors even had The Predator characters visiting Area 51. But Project Stargazer’s laboratory has another real-world precedent: so-called Deep Underground Military Bases, or D.U.M.B.s for short.

Extrapolating from bunkered, underground facilities like the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, the alternate command station for North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), believers in D.U.M.B.s describe an underground network of astonishing complexity, with subterranean facilities across the United States, connected by hypersonic underground trains.

The evidence for these facilities is limited, to be generous (nonexistent is more accurate). But that doesn’t stop conspiracy sites from listing their exact locations, including a facility supposedly built beneath the dams of Bull Run Reservoir in Oregon, similar to the Project Stargazer facility.

This is Phil Schneider, a popular speaker at UFO conventions until his suicide in 1996:

Schneider claimed to have worked on the construction of the most famous D.U.M.B., commonly known as Dulce Base, in New Mexico. There is zero evidence Dulce Base exists, but according to Schneider, a secret war broke out underground in 1979. Schneider was working seven stories underground when he first ran into an alien Grey and fired on it (all construction workers carry guns, right?) Schneider had run into spillover from a subterranean diplomatic crisis between multiple human and alien factions (again, similar to the plot of The Predator), including the Secret Service, Delta Force, Greys and Reptilians (the alien lizard people who many claim run the world).

Human-Alien Hybrids

In The Predator, Project Stargazer scientists, including the newly recruited Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn), are astonished to find their captured predator seems to have human DNA. Bracket later surmises, correctly, that the predators don’t just hunt for sport, but also to obtain genetic material for hybridization projects.

Alien-human hybrids were also part of the work at Dulce Base. “They are breeding slave-warriors for the upcoming war with the alien races,” Dulce Base security officer Thomas Edwin Castello (who likely doesn’t exist) told sprawling alien conspiracy site Biblioteca Pleyades.

Human-alien hybrids, like the predator, are a common trope, not just in fiction (including The X-Files), but also in alien abduction narratives. Abducted men often describe sexual intercourse with extraterrestrials, presumably aimed at creating human-alien offspring.

Alien Crash Landings

The Predator opens with a predator ship crash landing in the jungle of South or Central America. The scene is likely to remind viewers of more than cinematic aliens, but also “real” extraterrestrial crashes, most famously the vessel, complete with alien bodies, that many believe crashed on the Foster ranch 30 miles north of Roswell, New Mexico, in the summer of 1947. In 1994, a congressional inquiry determined the Roswell incident, and subsequent cover-up, could be explained by the top secret Project Mogul, which flew microphones on high-altitude balloons designed to detect Soviet nuclear tests.

But Roswell is far from the only UFO crash commonly blamed on aliens. In 1965, a fireball crashed in the woods outside of Pittsburgh, Pa., near the town of Kecksburg. In 2005, NASA would attribute the metal debris to a fallen Russian satellite. There have been numerous other incidents attributed to crashed alien vessels, including a 2016 incident involving the Canadian military.

kecksburg-UFO-unsolved-mysteries-sighting A model of the UFO that crashed in Kecksburg, PA, created for an episode of "Unsolved Mysteries." Ryright / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

Global Warming and Alien Advantage

In The Predator, the alien society of the predators is split on how to handle an Earth increasingly inhospitable to its dominant local lifeform, the humans, whose industrial society has poisoned the atmosphere, leading to the likely end of their civilization within a handful of generations. For some, the Earth represents a prime piece of real estate, making human decline an opportunity. Other predators come to Earth to find its warriors and pillage their genetic material, before it’s too late. And one predator traitor, perhaps representing a larger rebellion, wants to give humans the tools to fight back, bringing to Earth predator weapons technology.

Whitley Strieber wrote the source novels for 80s horror movies Wolfen and The Hunger, but became most famous for his bestselling non-fiction account of his experiences with non-human entities, Communion. Though Strieber is agnostic on where the “visitors” come from, his terrifying night-time encounters (plus the famous coverage image, of what we now recognize as an alien “grey”) fit with the phenomena of alien abduction. Strieber would write several follow-ups to Communion, claiming recovered memories of a school run by aliens, past lives and Atlantis.

Communion_book_cover The front cover of "Communion," with its famous alien grey. Avon

In 2001, Strieber self-published The Key, which relates a conversation Strieber claims to have had with a mysterious, otherworldly stranger, who warned of a coming climate change apocalypse, far more cataclysmic than the already disastrous future barreling our way, with “global superstorms” ravaging whole continents. Whether a Man in Black, extraterrestrial, human from the future, or something else, The Key, like The Predator, argues that extra-human entities are closely invested in humanity’s response to its own self-destructive behavior.

None of the movie’s overlap with real-world UFO conspiracy theories demonstrates that The Predator is based on a true story, but it does point to the sprawling oddity and bizarre shapes human beliefs can take. Nothing Hollywood concocts is too implausible for someone, somewhere, to believe in.

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