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Without Warning (1980) was an interesting movie. The plot was lifted
and remade into a lame movie called Predator. This low budget horror
film starred a trio of hard living actors (Jack Palance, Neville Brand
and Martin Landau). Times must have been hard on these great character
actors, sadly Neville Brand never received the recognition that he
deserved as an actor. But LAndau and Palance went on to greater fame
years later (the two even co-star in the highly underrated horror film
ALONE IN THE DARK).
The movie is about a giant alien who likes to stalk humans. One of his weapons is a bevy of flying blood sucking star fish. After stalking a bunch of daft co-eds (led by David Caruso). A haggard and sun baked hunter (Jack Palance) decides to have some fun and hunt the ultimate prey! What will happen when the Alien tangles with a middle aged dude who doesn't care about anyone or anything? You have to watch WITHOUT WARNING.
Not a great film or a classic by any means. It's a fun party movie that gets better when you watch it with more people. Too bad it's hard to find.
This movie RULEZ. Don't listen to the negativists: they seem to be
patently refusing to get into the spirit of things, probably turned off
by the low budget, utterly ordinary & banal settings, ludicrous plot
twists and unhinged performances. But trust me, this is what I do for a
living: Anyone with a taste for outrageous, low budget Amercian made
regional horror will find a masterpiece here waiting to be unleashed.
The plot is already summed up well by other admirers: Alien being decides to go hunting in the woods of what looks like rural Oklahoma using an elaboration on those flying pancake monsters from the old "Star Trek" series that would smack onto someone's back and drive them insane. These have revolting little teeth, pincers and claws, glom onto people and suck the ooze out of their brains. The Alien himself is right out of Whitley Strieber -- a 7 foot tall gray who's motives are never explained and who's demise is one of the most satisfying conclusions to a "horror movie" I have seen in months. The Alien's flying pancake killings are gory, inventively staged, unpredictable in occurrence and made to create squeals of disgust from viewers, who if they allow themselves to get caught up in the proceedings will feel like they are 10 years old again & watching Creature Feature matinée when they should be outside doing chores. Even without any exploitational nudity, this movie is a guilty pleasure dream come true.
BUT, the thing that entranced me the most about the film was -- amazingly -- the performances, or rather the job of the actors in personifying the community of individuals depicted, all of whom come across as real people in the same way that "The Simpson's" characters also feel real. And what an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime cast!! It's almost worth it just to see all these people involved in the same movie project: Cameron Mitchell at his grizzled, method acting best. Martin Landau immersed in another role that absorbs him whole like a sponge; Landau's Oscar for ED WOOD was no mistake. Ralph Meeker as a bar patron who's bemused indifference to the proceedings is only matched by film legend Neville Brand, who's response to being informed that he is in the middle of an actual alien invasion is to order up another beer. Darby Hinton, Lynn Theel, a pre-fame David Caruso, former child actor hearthrob Christopher S. Nelson, a wacky Larry Storch and frequent monster movie monster Kevin Peter Hall all contribute wonderfully. And the under-seen Tarah Nutter makes a very believable young heroine shoved into the role of saving her planet whether she wants to or not.
But the movie is stolen lock, stock and smoking barrels, by Jack Palance, God bless the man. Usually cast as a scheming, duplicitous villain, here he plays a completely unhinged local hunter who happens upon the invasion and decides to go Mano-a-Mano with the Alien, weathering no less than three close encounters with the flying pancakes & surviving them all by slicing the things off his body with a knife. Anyone else (except maybe Cameron Mitchell) would look ridiculous while cutting off a goo spewing alien pancake monster from their thigh but somehow Palance manages to find a performance in the routine. And again, here is evidence that his Oscar for CITY SLICKERS was no accident either: He is a national treasure who's distinctively scarred face should be added to Mount Rushmore & his story enshrined in a monument.
How else can you put it? WITHOUT WARNING may be the ultimate Jack Palance movie (aside from maybe SHANE and CAN BE DONE AMIGO) and is so utterly perfect in it's execution that I was howling with glee at finally encountering a movie that pushed nearly every geek nerve button in my skull. I love the low budget effects, offbeat performances, totally unremarkable settings, the unpredictable story arc and the climactic ending which got a round of applause from the house. The movie looks like it was filmed in & around the woods down by the drainage ditch about three blocks away, and is proof that you don't need a huge budget, a moron A-list face like Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt or flashy computer generated effects to make a very satisfying little creature feature. All you need is enough imagination, guile & ingenuity to make such happen yourself, though having a Jack Palance and a Martin Landau handy will certainly help.
And that leads me to my one problem with the film: Landau's crazed Vietnam veteran character. It's not that his actions were implausible, it's just that it would have been more fun if he and Palance's equally grizzled hunter character had "teamed up" and pitted their combined mental instabilities, paranoia and capability for violence against this thing. Someone goofed on the screenplay level and missed an opportunity there and as such my rating for this is diminished from the 9 star affair it really should have been. But make no mistake & listen not to the Negative Nellies from Sector Nine: You won't regret investing your 90 minutes into this movie if low budget horror alien invasion and wacko backwoods regional quirk films are your cup of tea. If they aren't go rent the comparatively vacant WAR OF THE WORLDS with Mr. Cruise, who compared to Mr. Palance does not even come across as being convincing at playing a guy who holds a day job & owns a cat. Give me junk like this any day of the week and use your $105 million dollars to feed the continent of Africa next time, Mr. Spielberg: You have been OWNED.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This very weird drive-in flick directed by Greydon Clark is pretty
creepy, in a brainless sort of way. Predating the "Predator" concept by
a number of years, "Without Warning" involves a mysterious alien
presence lurking in the woods, claiming campers and backpackers with
the use of living, tentacled flying discs it hurls at potential
The fact that the killer is an alien gives it a faux sci-fi twist, but in reality this has more in common with "Friday the 13th", albeit with flying alien discs. The alien itself spends most of the movie offscreen, throwing its frisbees at people, then harvesting them and storing their bodies in a convenient old shack normally used by the water department (who are marginally less frightening than murderous aliens).
The obnoxious characters might get on your nerves, particularly the stereotypical shell-shocked vet portrayed by Martin Landau. The young male lead is also pretty irritating (bad-movie junkies may recognize him from "Roller Boogie"). One of the biggest pleasures of the film is the presence of numerous b-movie personalities and character actors, a number of whom also appeared in Greydon Clark's second alien thriller of 1980, "The Return". Palance and Landau, light years away from their Oscars, really ham it up big time alongside Larry Storch, Neville Brand ("Eaten Alive"), Ralph Meeker ("The Night Stalker", "Food of the Gods"), Cameron Mitchell (God, where to begin??). Look fast for a very young David Caruso as an early alien snack. Further linking the film to "Predator" is that the alien in this film is played by the same actor who played The Predator, the late Kevin Peter Hall.
It's definitely a low-rent affair, but there is some good stuff here. The atmospheric photography helps, although the low quality video transfers that are circulating out there do a lot to detract from it. The script takes some welcome short cuts in the early stages, wasting no time in getting one half of our dual teenage couples bumped off and leaving the remaining two on the run. The action takes place in a number of dark, desolate places. At least the counselors at Crystal Lake had a few bungalows to take refuge in. The protagonists of "Without Warning" scurry through old shacks, dark open fields, abandoned cottages, and rundown redneck bars. Brrr. The "bloodsucking frisbee" effect is fairly well done, too.
Then there's the matter of the alien. It's very silly looking in full light, but they don't really let you get a good look at it, and it's vaguely creepy the way it's photographed. In one scene, we catch our first real glimpse of it as it's approaching on the other side of a swinging pendant lamp, a la "Psycho". The lamp swings up and momentarily illuminates the weird, grasping figure. Eerie. There's also a great shot at the conclusion where Jack Palance exacts his revenge on the visitor by planting dynamite outside the shack. He grapples with the deranged Landau, until suddenly they both look up, and standing there in the distance is the alien, watching them. Unfortunately, the scene is defused by the campy overacting and dialogue.
We have yet to get a quality home video release for "Without Warning", at least in the United States. It seems to have slipped through the cracks, or is tied up in a matter of studio ownership. My only regret is that I never got to see this one at the drive-in, which is obviously where it was meant to be enjoyed. It meets that lofty goal very nicely.
An alien has landed and it's killing innocent humans! Why, you ask? If
you're looking for a feasible explanation like harvesting humans for food or
cleaning off this planet for future alien use, forget it. Here the bad guy
is just looking for a fun time hunting humans to add to his burgeoning
trophy collection. Aiding in his sport are hairy, fanged little parasitic
suction-cup Frisbees he flings at victims that drink their blood. The fun
and gooey make-up FX are by Greg Cannon.
If the campy, silly plot isn't enough to get you tuned in, keep in mind it costars Jack Palance as a grizzled gas station owner, Cameron Mitchell as a sadistic hunter and an out-of-control Martin Landau as a ranting, raving, insane Vietnam vet! David (NYPD BLUE) Caruso also puts in an early appearance and the alien is played by giant Kevin Peter Hall, who went on the play the monster in the PREDATOR films.
Score: 6 out of 10
I ,too saw this at a So-Cal drive-in, twenty odd years back.We got there after the film started and one of my buddies remarked "Hey ,isn't that Larry Storch hanging on that hook in the shed?"....It truly was "Magic Time"...AIP provided some kooky, grisly ,over acted gems back then. Where fine , but seemingly "washed -up" actors Palance, Landau, Brand ,Mitchell could still be on the "Big Screen" and show their chops.I remember mostly dark foggy woods and scared kids , and Hey ,don't go in the house! This "AIP Movie Era" was sadly coming to a close and "Without Warning" is a great example of this late lamented(?)style of cinema.I can still hear Jack Palance screaming "ALIEN!!!!!"................sigh..
"Without Warning" is a cheap American b-movie horror from 1980 about the
terror striking the beautiful American countryside... some people are
brutally killed and mutilated by an unknown stranger, and it's the turn of a
bunch of teenagers and war veterans to find out that an illegal alien has
landed and is hunting for humans for his horrible collection...
Although this movie shows lots of stereotypes and well-known topics from many horror movies from the 50's to the 70's like "It Came From Outer Space", "The Thing", Jack Arnold and Roger Corman cheapos, "Night of the Living Dead", "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "Three on a Meathook" and even "Alien" and the new wave of high school slasher movies like "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th", it's an entertaining and thrilling affair.
There are some old movie veterans like Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Ralph Meeker, Cameron Mitchell and Neville Brand involved with Palance and Landau playing the mad alien hunters, and a young David Caruso in his very first movie role. The alien is played by Afro-American actor Kevin Peter Hall who also played the monster in "Predator 2" (1990). Director Greydon Clark never had a big break-through movie, but photographer Dean Cundey had a big time in the nineties with jobs for "Apollo 13", "Casper", "The Flintstones" and the Spielberg hits "Hook" and "Jurassic Park".
All in all it's a nice midnight movie and a small highlight for fans of seventies' paranoia horror films in the wake of the remakes of old alien, monster and disaster film productions. No more, no less.
Saw this one at the drive-in back in '80 and knew as I was watching it that I was watching a drive-in classic. I seem to recall (in my mind anyway)as 1980 being the last great drive-in horror movie year. I had already seen Humanoids From The Deep that summer and Phantasm there the previous year. I recall that the film had a nice updated 1950's sci-fi feel to it (like Humanoids, a little atmosphere, some laughs (frisbees etc.), hammy performances (Landau Palance) and Larry Storch. The ancient grainy Kingston Trio 'Things Go Better With CocaCola' ad at intermission seemed to fit in with it well. I can't recall what was on the bill with It Came Without Warning; but I recall leaving pretty satisfied. I've looked through many video stores to rent or buy it but can't locate it. Nice to see some other folks fondly remember this one and would like to see it on DVD,too.
Without Warning is kinda odd, what with it's "big budget" stars and all.
It's nicely done, although it looks like a Kolchak/Night Stalker
However, the little frisbee/alien/thingies are extremely creepy, and strike me as very effective considering the low-budget.
The alien "hunter" looks like they got the costume from Outer Limits.
Overall, I'd recommend this movie, despite the hammy performances. Turn the lights down and prepare to be creeped out.
I just got a chance to watch this 'classic' B horror movie last night. I had caught part of it years ago and had been looking for it ever since. Well I won't say that it was worth the wait but it was entertaining. The effects were ok a bit hokey and certainly not up to 2000 standards but it was 1980 and this is not a high budget movie. The movie is about this couple that is being chased around this mountain-wooded area by an Alien hunter (a pure amateur when compared to Predator) who hunts with living disks that he throws at his prey. The disks are the best and worst effect in the movie, best being that when stuck to a person or tree or vehicle they look believable, worst when flying through the air. The couple is helped by a fanatic hunter who is trying to kill the alien and dogged by this not so helpful army veteran. On the whole if you like B-horror films this one is worth seeing, if you can find a copy. But if you are looking for good acting, riveting story, and the like look someplace else. This movie is fun but needs to be taken in context.
I remember seeing the movie trailer one time when I was living in Long Island. Though I was way too young to see it. The movie may have been a limited premier in some places, it should have been nationwide later on. It has a great cast. Martin Landau ( Mission: Impossible, Space:1999), Jack Parlance, the biggest movie veteran ever. What more could you want? How about the 7'2" star Kevin Peter Hall who would later play BigFoot in "Harry and The Hendersons", and "Predator" ! In this movie, he plays this unnamed alien hunter who stalks the humans on Earth. His first kills are a father and son who are enjoying the outdoors and it would be the last for them as well. And the Scout leader was an unfortunate victim, leaving the Scouts running for their lives. How does this alien hunter kills so swiftly? By using these hideous discs that come alive when it hits the victim. So when the four friends went out to the lake to have fun, only two of them encounter the horror themselves. Later on, they meet a former Army Sergeant who still think he's in the war, feel there is an invasion. The store owner happens to be the most trusting is the one the two seems feel safe with. The whole ordeal with this movie is to survive the terror of being hunted by an alien hunter. A very good movie, just a bit overlooked, though.
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