"The thing from the cages..."
"Maybe it thought we were the ones who dropped it here."
Nikolai and Royce, regarding a dead River Ghost

The River Ghosts[1] are a sentient species, which, like humans, were hunted by the Super Predators on the Game Preserve Planet.


The River Ghosts are humanoid in appearance, but are shrouded in pale, insect-like exoskeletons that cover almost all of their bodies. While they have recesses comparable to human eye sockets on the front of their head, they do not appear to possess any visible eyes, while a sensory organ covered by a moveable flap of bone is located in the center of their forehead.[2] Their teeth extend forwards from their mouth on plates of bone, leaving a considerable gap to their mouths. They have greatly elongated talons on their hands, and strange, bony, almost wing-like protrusions on their back.

The River Ghosts appear to have some form of symbiotic relationship with small insectoid organisms that live on their skin. The exact purpose of these small creatures is unknown, although it is possible they help to keep the River Ghosts' skin clean from bacteria and other potentially infections parasites, similar to many Earth-based symbiotes. Aside from possessing intelligence, they're also faster, more agile and more deadly than humans. One of their kind managed to avoid the traps set by Royce's team and nearly catches Edwin in a chase before it was shot by Noland.


Like humans, River Ghosts were 'dropped' on the Game Preserve Planet to be hunted by the Super Predators for sport.[3] This suggests that the River Ghosts were somehow worthy prey for the Super Predators, possibly because of their speed. One such creature was encountered by Royce and the other humans dropped with him on the Game Preserve Planet in 2010. The creature attacked the group and pursued Edwin, presumably intending to kill him, before it was shot dead by Noland.

Behind the Scenes

The River Ghost's role was reduced in the final film, compared to earlier drafts: it was originally supposed to play a more substantial part in the film, stalking the characters for longer and leading them to believe it was the one responsible for their being on the planet. In another draft of the script, the creature was originally to have been found near a river and was barely seen, behaving almost like a ghost or apparition (it was from this draft that the creature earned its moniker).[2]

The River Ghost was initially conceived as a means to display the original, unused Predator design created for Predator by Boss Film Studios, although it was later decided to make the creature a completely original design.[2] Despite this change of direction, the creature still bears some similarities to the original Predator design, most notably in the appearance of its head and its digitigrade legs.


Various concepts for the River Ghost.

During production of Predators, KNB EFX boss Greg Nicotero had seen a sculpture by Takayuki Takeya called The Erosive Guyver, and it was this that later heavily influenced the design direction of the River Ghost.[4] Another influence were the creatures from the planet Metaluna in the 1955 film This Island Earth. Nicerto said of Takeya's sculpture, "I loved the exoskeleton look and the bone protrusions on the shoulder so we mimicked that along with some Metaluna Mutant colour schemes."[4]

Director Nimród Antal gave the KNB EFX crew a lot of free rein during the design phase. The conceptual design of the River Ghost was the responsibility of John Wheaton, whose biggest concern was to ensure the creature looked completely different from the Predator.[4] He sought to make the River Ghost tall and insect-like, with an external, segmented carapace. However, due to the short production timeframe on Predators, coupled with the fact the River Ghost scenes were scheduled to be among the first that would be shot, he only had time to render two or three concepts in Photoshop and Painter.[4] The River Ghost's body sculpt took 10 or 11 days to complete, with the main hurdle being the short deadline.[4] Sculptor Mike O'Brien concentrated on infusing many different textures and shapes into the suit, which he wanted to appear very organic, taking influence from natural textures such as shells, rocks, bone, wood and bark.[4] Even though the River Ghost had only limited screen time, O'Brien wanted to include as much detail as possible. "I was actually teased for 'going all out' on this suit," O'Brien later said. Since he could not be sure to what extent the creature would be seen, he wanted to make sure it "was ready for anything".[4]


The River Ghost's hands.

Due to the time pressures, the effects team were unable to build a small-scale maquette before they began work on the full-size suit, as would be common in creature design.[4] Again due to time and budget, only a single "hero" suit was created.[2] The team did, however, have time to build a second stunt head (whose mouth was moved by suit performer Carey Jones[2] and differed from the hero by having eye holes to help Jones see while chasing Topher Grace)[5] and a set of fully mechanical and stunt hands.[2] A set of teeth appliances was also created for Jones that covered the mouth with thick gums.[5] Molded in foam latex, the River Ghost was finally painted by Casey Love.[2] Special attention was paid to the arms and hands.[4] The effects team imagined the creature as having very long arms that wrapped around its chest, imitating the ribs. O'Brien described them as having "long, vicious claws that would be revealed almost like switch blades".[4] During development, the arms were shortened by half when the initial limbs were deemed too long and "looked a little too much". John Wheaton commented, "I remember Garrett Immel changing the hand sculpts by doing careful surgery and shorting the finger joints."[4] The original intention was to have the River Ghost unfold its arms in a very alien manner, but ultimately this was not seen in the film.[4]


Carey Jones as the River Ghost on the set of Predators.[6]

The creature's head was one of the few major changes to the design from the conceptual stage. This was to accommodate several new elements Nicotero and O'Brien wanted to include, such as the removal of the eyes. The design also had to be altered to fit suit performer Carey Jones' physique, which was more muscular than the thin concept art allowed.[4] The River Ghost was played by Carey Jones after he was recommended by Nicotero. The suit used during filming took around half an hour to put on while on set, a drastic reduction from the full hour it took the first time Jones donned the suit. Unlike the Predator outfits in the film — one of which, Tracker, was also played by Jones — the River Ghost suit had no eye holes and as a result Jones had to perform completely blind.[4] The River Ghost's suit also differed from the Predator's in that it was thicker, the hands difficult to wear due to the length and the head was tighter to Jones' than the Predator's.

During filming, Jones tried to keep himself in the mindset of a creature kidnapped from its home and taken against its will to this alien world. Due to the appearance of the suit, he felt that the River Ghost was a savage creature and tried to translate this into his performance. When he chased after Edwin, Jones performed "as if there was no obstacle between him and Edwin." and "His sole focus was on the capture of his prey."[4] Jones' plantigrade legs were replaced digitally with digitigrade limbs in post-production, to make the creature appear more alien.[2]


The creature has been given several names, but the most common name used by the production team and during the design phase was "River Ghost". According to Carey Jones, this name was derived from how the encounter with the ghost-like figure near a river in an earlier draft of the script.[4]

Other names given to the River Ghost include "Red Herring" (linked to the earlier script draft where the main characters mistook the creature for the one that had brought them to the planet), "Ram Rummer" (to which Jones said, "I couldn't quite figure out why [it had that name] until I was in the suit running full speed through the jungle.") and the "Guyver Alien" (in reference to The Erosive Guyver's influence on the design).[4] Some fans took to naming the creature "Stickman",[4] perhaps due to its tall, thin form and vaguely insect-like appearance.

Sound design

On the sound design for the River Ghost, sound designer Paula Fairfield said "The idea with this creature is that when first heard, no one is sure what it is they are hearing: ‘Is that … a bird, an insect …. what is it? Did I hear something?’ The concept for this creature was wispy and flittery and then shrieky as it closes in on its prey."[3]


Stunt head and teeth

The stunt head (with minor wear due to age and production use) and a set of teeth appliances used in the film were made available for £1029.00 or $1745.00 in June 2014[5] (when numerous other items from Predators were also made available[7]) at the site "Prop Store".[5]


  • The River Ghost does not appear in the comic adaptation of Predators.
  • The River Ghosts represent the first alien prey seen to be hunted by the Yautja in the Predator franchise (not counting the Aliens in the Alien vs. Predator franchise).
  • After the group on the Game Preserve Planet are attacked by the River Ghost, Royce theorizes that the creature wasn't simply attacking them due to instinctive behavior, but rather out of fear or anger, mistakenly believing them to be the creatures that had brought it to the planet.
  • Considering the fact that Predators only hunt what they considered to be challenging and dangerous, River Ghost no doubt possesses an aggressive disposition.



External links


  1. Predators audio commentary
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 "Monster Legacy - The River Ghost". Retrieved on 2014-01-27.
  3. 3.0 3.1 ""Predators" – Exclusive Interview with Paula Fairfield & Carla Murray | Designing Sound Designing Sound". Designing Sound (July 30, 2010). Retrieved on January 17, 2014. "Being one of the groups of beings ‘dropped’ on the plant to be hunted by the Predators for sport, the “River Ghost” is in no way related to the Predators. The idea with this creature is that when first heard, no one is sure what it is they are hearing: ‘Is that … a bird, an insect …. what is it? Did I hear something?’ The concept for this creature was wispy and flittery and then shrieky as it closes in on its prey."
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 "AVPGalaxy - The River Ghost Alien". Retrieved on 2014-01-17.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3
  6. "Behind-The-Scenes - Behind the Scenes image of Carey Jones as the River Ghost - AvPGalaxy's Gallery" (March 7, 2011). Retrieved on January 17, 2014.
  8. "Behind-The-Scenes - Behind the Scenes image of Carey Jones as the River Ghost - AvPGalaxy's Gallery" (March 7, 2011). Retrieved on January 17, 2014.
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