Without Warning (1980)
Back of the box...
“A group of teenagers head out to the lake for a relaxing camping trip in the mountains. They ignore the warnings of the local truck stop owner and head to their destination. THings go terribly wrong when they run into an extraterrestrial who throws deadly discs that suck the blood of their victims. The group heads back to the truck stop for help from the eclectic residents, including a crazy war veteran (Martin Landau, Ed Wood) and a determined hunter (Jack Palance, Batman).”
Director: Greydon Clark
Starring: Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Tarah Nutter
Watch the Trailer
The ultimate hunter meets the ultimate adversary! Arnold Schwarzenegger wages an all-out war against an unseen enemy, a force more powerful and deadly than any on earth! So now that we’re all up to speed on the plot of Predator, how does it compare to Without Warning? Well, start by switching out our favorite dreadlock-sporting hunter with a big headed blue guy, and then replace Arnold, Jesse Ventura and Shane Black with Jack Palance, Martin Landau, and David Caruso. While the Predator travels the universe in search of worthy adversaries, the alien in Without Warning is apparently just picking on horny teenagers and grumpy old men. Despite these differences it’s hard to ignore the coincidence that Kevin Peter Hall plays the alien hunter in both films.
The film was shot at Paramount Ranch, a massive acreage of land owned by Paramount Studios and where replica towns have been built for TV and film. The ranch’s list of credits is impressive and spans over 90 years, including the recent production of HBO’s Westworld. It’s now a national park where you can go hiking on a trail named after Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and maybe stumble upon a movie being filmed. Is any of this relevant? Not really, we just wanna visit the ranch. Anyway, back to the review.
A 19-year-old David Caruso, his girlfriend, and another couple drive out to a lake to go camping. On a stop for gas, the girls find an ominous warning written in the restroom, reading “No Chance. No Help. No Escape.” They also find an ominous Martin Landau. In the gas station, surrounded by failed attempts at taxidermy, a confused old hunter played by Jack Palance warns them not to go out to the lake. Caruso and crew ignore the madman ramblings and decide to go anyway. After arriving at the lake, the teens go for a swim and it’s not long before things start to get hot and heavy between Caruso and his gal. The other couple decide to take a walk to give the love birds some privacy and that’s when, IT CAME WITHOUT WARNING! The ladies know what we’re talkin’ about. They also got attacked by an alien! The surviving teens stumble upon the alien’s victims while searching for their friends, prompting them to return to town for help. This young, able-bodied couple, human specimens in the physical prime of their lives, find help from Palance and Landau—two elderly men, one with obvious mental problems. Will these two crazy old coots be able to stay awake late enough to save the teens and destroy the alien hunter? Will this review resort to ageism in an attempt to get laughs? And will the irony of the hunters becoming the hunted be totally lost on our heros?
According to. . . the internet, Without Warning wasn’t released on home video until 2014! Considering the amount of absolute shit movies that were released on VHS when the home video market first opened up, we were a little skeptical about this video store reject. Without Warning also shares an actor and a director with two of our favorite episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Final Justice and Space Mutiny, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. What we’re trying to say here is that our expectations were very low, but Without Warning really surprised us! Yeah, the movie’s actually pretty good! For a low budget sci-fi/horror B-movie it gives you what you’d expect and a little bit more. The alien looks like a villain reject from an episode of the original Star Trek! The design is a little dated but very cool looking and, in a way, it brings a uniqueness to the film. The cast should have probably been our first clue that Without Warning wasn’t total garbage. Caruso’s feature film debut is, in our opinion, better than any episode of C.S.I. Miami and our two veteran film stars, Palance and Landau, are both great as the grizzled old small town eccentrics. Honestly though, we’d probably even love to watch those two in daytime TV commercials. (Jack Palance sucks air through his teeth and says, “You’re my number one choice of car insurance”). The film’s leads are fine as the blank-slate teenagers that they are, although we do think the wrong couple survives.
Without Warning may not be a hidden gem but it’s far from the dog turd we thought we’d dug up. If old sci-fi/horror movies are your thing, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Palance, Landau, Caruso, a B-movie monster, and a few cool gore effects make Without Warning worth a watch. And who doesn’t love humans being hunted for sport? What we’d really like to see is this blue-headed alien try to hunt Ice-T from Surviving the Game! There’s a crossover for you—forget Alien VS Predator—Ice-T VS Predator! But until Hollywood wakes up and makes that piece of cinematic gold, watch Without Warning.