At this point, I must give credit where it is due: it was my father who assiduously spent hours viewing R-rated movies, with two VCRs at the ready, dubbing a copy for me while cutting out the really violent or sexual parts. I doubt there are many fathers out there who would be so sympathetic to their son's desire to see fun sci-fi films but caring enough to insure his little mind wasn't warped at too early an age. Thank you, Dad.
Of all these movies, Predator was certainly one of my favorites. Directed by Joe (Die Hard) McTiernan (back when he still made good films) and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in full badass soldier mode, Predator was one of the last of the truly great '80s action films, brimming with machismo and good old-fashioned American jingoism (though there is a surprising amount of reflection on the sometimes questionable nature of our covert ops in places like South America). Predator was a far better film than it had to be, with some surprisingly good performances (and a guest appearance by future former governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura, pretending to do the type of work he really once did as a Navy SEaL. One wonders what he thought of all the Spec Ops mumbo-jumbo inserted into the script).
As a kid, I ate the movie up. I spent many a summer day stalking through the neighbors' woods, a makeshift "claw" device of cardboard and wood strapped to my arm, climbing trees and making clicking and clacking noises like the creature in the film while my friends played soldier to my alien hunter. I longed for an action figure, but there wasn't one until a line was introduced by Kenner in the early '90s - at which point I had stopped collecting toys (for a limited period, obviously).
Since Predator was a big success, it necessarily followed that there would be a sequel. It arrived only three years later in the form of Predator 2. The script took the Predator out of the jungle setting and dropped him, predictably, into an urban one. This idea (which had already been explored in a Dark Horse comic by the time the film came out) was one rich with possibilities; unfortunately, the script was a rather by-the-numbers action plot, with some gratuitous gore and Danny Glover as a cop (basically Murtaugh without the humor). The movie pretty much sucked, and while at the time I clamored to see it, my father wisely forbade me from doing so due to its extreme violence (he also barred me from Robocop 2, which, again, was probably a good call).