Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Tarah Nutter, Christopher S. Nelson, Lynn Theel, Cameron Mitchell, Neville Brand, David Caruso, Larry Storch, Darby Hinton, and Kevin Peter Predator Harry Alien Hall.
Bonus Match: Dean Cundey cinematography.
Please Note: Here, there be SPOILERS.
A hunter (Mitchell) wanders the woods and tries to either man-up his hippy son Randy (Hinton) with some hunting or murder him. Seriously, he points the rifle at the guy’s head when he’s not looking and fantasizes about blowing it off. Ah, 70s parenting. Unfortunately, before the attaining of masculinity through skinning skewy wabbits can begin, the old man gets offed by a bloodsucking flying pancake.
|Easy on the pus syrup, please.|
And soon flower-power Randy ends up an alien pancake breakfast as well.
|Daddy didn't love my lazy eye-hole!|
Deadly creatures who can attack at will and suck the live out of you are infesting the lake. What do we do? Get laid, of course! Sorta-kinda teens Greg (Nelson), his buddy Tom (Caruso), Tom’s squeeze Beth (Theel) and sweetie pie Sandy (Nutter) decide to hit the lake and hop into an airtight junky serial killer vehicle which in those days were known as “vans”. And yes, seriously it’s that David Caruso in an early role.
|DISCLAIMER: No sunglasses were dramatically removed in the making of this film.|
They stop for gas at the perfunctory rural creepy gas station where they are treated to a perfectly normal and pleasant encounter and conversation with locals Sarge (Landau) and Joe (Palance) who are normal and do not do un-normal things at all.
|Perfectly, um, normal.|
Bugged-eyed and close to tears, Joe warns them about the dangers at the lake and urges them not to go. They take his advice thoughtfully and cautiously with the utmost concern for one another’s safety. Once they arrive at the lake, Tom and Beth get to bangin’, while the awkward Greg gets to know the pretty and soft Sandy. Meanwhile, a Scout Leader (Storch) hikes around the lake with his rowdy and sarcastic Cub Scout troop.
|They all received an "F". (Thank you! Thank you!)|
So yeah then Storch gets a toothy flying omelet up the keister and suddenly Sandy and Greg can’t find Tom and Beth, that is until they stumble across their bodies strung up like beef hides in a nearby shack.
|Ready to tenderize!|
There is cause for concern. So our young heroes rush back to the creepy gas station which is now a creepy bar where the locals gape in disbelief at their story. Well, except for Joe and Sarge.
|And he'll have to explain those pants. (Thank you!)|
Loony Sarge thinks it’s an alien invasion and that Sandy and Greg are part of the conspiracy. Joe is more grounded in his whiskey-soaked presumptions. He merely believes that there is something out there hunting people down and that it is using the gut-sucking flesh Frisbees to paralyze its prey. And he knows how to stop them and it.
|Believe it, or ... well, you know.|
It’s 1980. There are no cell phones, Lyft cabs, #HolyShitAliens hashtags, or Abrams computer lens-flares to help. Hell, Men At Work won’t break out in the states for another year. So it’s up to crazy hobo Sarge, vaguely Matthew Star-ish Greg, likeable twist-knot-top-attired Sandy, and the very normal Joe to stand up to the menace from the stars that came … hence the title.
All I can tell you is that the line “Push the plunger, Sandy!” will haunt you.
Probably all you need to know about director Greydon Clark (Uninvited) and Without Warning can be found in his tellingly-titled book On the Cheap which I am plugging here for no reason. Really. I’ve been wanting to watch Without Warning since I saw the trailer at the drive-in back in the days when you didn’t need to use Wikipedia to look up “drive-in”. (Seriously, if you don’t know what a drive-in is, why are you even reading this? Also, you can read?). I kid. The trailer scared the baby luchador crap of out me. Check out the trailer here. Cool, huh? Why don’t they make trailers like that anymore? Why are there no more drive-ins? What is Wikipedia? Forgive an old man. Like most of director Clark’s horror movies, Without Warning runs a tad over 100 minutes, has a creepy atmosphere provided by 80s ubiquitous cinematographer Cundey (Back to the Futures), but unfortunately is padded with slow-paced scenes. The gore is standard to pretty good but doesn't exceed beyond the frightful sight of burnt cinnamon buns oozing boogers. But what’s very much remarkable about the movie is the cast. Firstly, it features the Olivier of monster actors, he late great Kevin Peter Hall who portrays the creature who controls the killer flying bloodsuckers like an outer space ninja. Here’s a shot of the man in action:
Hall would go on to play Harry from Harry and the Hendersons, the title character in Monster in the Closet, and, of course, Predators in both Predator and Predator II. Then you have the team of Landau and Palance who ham it up like Karloff and Lugosi only without the mutual hatred or threats of sniffing shit. They would next team up in the remarkable Jack Sholder movie Alone in the Dark (1982) with Donald Pleasance and Dwight Schultz of A-Team fame. Please see that one as well. The movie also features a cast of stars from a range of my favorite movies including Theel (Humanoids from the Deep), Ralph Meeker (Paths of Glory), and Neville Brand (Riot in Cell Block 11). By the way, you can see Without Warning for free here. Oh wait, that is the 1994 CBS TV about a fake newscast about meteor heading for Earth which was shown on Halloween night that year. You can see that one, but I think you will have more fun watching Greydon Clark’s Without Warning, which I did.
EL T’S HORROR MARATHON ADVICE:
If you’re doing a Halloween marathon, I would schedule this one in the middle, especially if you have hungry sleepyheads with short attention spans over. The long stretches of padded scenes will allow your guests to get up and stretch themselves. Also, serve pancakes with butterscotch pudding and raspberry jam.
|You'll know why.|