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Without Warning


Title: Without Warning
Year Of Release: 1980
Running Time: 89 minutes (93 minutes restored version)
DVD Released By: Scream Factory
Directed By: Greydon Clark
Writing Credits: Lyn Freeman, Daniel Grodnik, Bennett Tramer, Steve Mathis

Starring: Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Tarah Nutter, Christopher S. Nelson
Taglines:
1. The Alien Terror Is Here On Earth.
2. It preys on human fear. It feeds on human flesh.
3. Earth Is The Hunting Ground. Man Is The Endangered Species.
Alternate Titles:
1. Alien Warning
2. It Came Without Warning

3. The Warning
4
. Alien Shock
5. Alien Encounters

Review Date: 4.12.18

Shadow's Title: "Predator Beta Version"

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Without Warning

Characters
Sandy - She is being set up on a blind date by her friend Beth and Beth’s boyfriend Tom. She and Greg meet for the first time as the four young folks head to the lake for a swim. The two of them seem to hit it off and the future might have held possibilities for the pair if they’d just avoided the lake like Joe Taylor warned them to do, but when do young people ever listen to old folks? Never. If this was a slasher movie, she would be its final girl.
Greg - Like Sandy, he is set up on a blind date by his pal Tom and Tom’s girl Beth. Greg seems like a nice guy and is respectful to Sandy, not trying to get in her pants right from the start. He may have been thinking about it, as almost any straight guy would, but he didn’t act on it. He might have had a chance if events hadn’t gone down the crapper. So in the end I guess the alien wasn’t the only one with blue balls in this film.
Beth - Sandy’s best friend. She and Tom are heading out for an afternoon at the lake and invite their best friends along. Beth doesn’t have a big part in the film and appears just long enough to strip down to a bikini and show off her ample curves…something the actress also did in Humanoids From The Deep. At least in this film she was not raped by a bunch of fish men and was able to engage in off screen boom-boom with a human.
Tom - Greg’s best friend and owner of the hideous van that takes the group to the lake…and for most of them…to their ultimate doom. I have to wonder, if Tom and Greg are best buds, and Beth and Sandy are best friends, why have Greg and Sandy never met until now? You’d think that they’d be acquainted with each other by now, unless Tom and Beth just recently hooked up with one another.
Joe Taylor - One of the locals that the four kids run into when they head for the lake. Joe runs an antiquated gas station that seems to be on the verge of falling apart and he warns them to steer clear of said lake. Joe it seems is quite the hunter, as his place is littered with animal trophies. However, what he is really interested in hunting is big, blue and bald…and no I don’t mean those three guys in Las Vegas with a stage show.
Fred "Sarge" Dobbs - Sarge here is another local that the kids run into while on their trip to the lake. However, Whereas Joe Taylor was at least helpful despite being creepy, Sarge here is completely off his rocker. Suffering from PTSD after 26 years in the army, Sarge knows that there is an Alien running about. It’s just that no one believes him and his crazy beliefs get wilder with each passing hour.
Aggy - She works at (or owns/runs) a country bar where many of the locals hang out playing pool, drinking beer and doing their best to forget whatever their daily woes may be. Of course if your daily woe is that you’re stuck in the country with nothing to do in your free time but drink beer and play pool at some secluded country bar…then you may have things a little rough.
Leo - One of the local yokels that likes to hang out at Aggy’s place. No mention is made of what he does for a living. All we know is that he is sick and tired of hearing Sarge’s wild stories about aliens and an imminent invasion from beyond the stars. Who can blame him? People go to a bar to get away from all the crazy people in their lives, not to engage with more of them.
The Hunter - This guy was never given a name, but Asswipe seems a fitting appellation for this jackwad. His contempt for his son Randy, who he sees as a “sissy” is almost palpable. He wants his son to be more of a “man” like him and he feels the first step in doing so is to take a shotgun and kill some wild animals. Maybe the alien had a similar motivation. Anyway, this fool was the first killed.
Randy - Son of the belligerent hunter. He sees nothing manly about shooting animals and says as much to his dad. The two apparently don’t see eye to eye on a great many things and will probably never come to a real understanding of one another. Scratch that. They most definitely will NOT come to a better understanding of one another as both wind up victims of the alien.
The Scoutmaster - If anyone was in need of a good, stiff drink it was this poor beleaguered bastard. It’s not enough to be saddled with seven loudmouth cub scouts out in the wilderness, but to get them all lost on top of that was quite the accomplishment. I suppose it wasn’t really his fault that some magnetic disturbance was playing havoc with his compass. He walks off to find help and finds death instead.
The Alien - There is no explanation given as to where this guy is from, how he got to earth, where his means of conveyance is at or exactly why he wants to kill so many people. Is it for pure sport? Is he going to sample human flesh in hopes of establishing a supply point for a chain of alien fast food joints on his home planet? Is he an alien dentist who paid another alien for the chance to bag some Humans? We will just never know.

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

AKA To What UnwiringWe start this film off with the camera snaking its way through a dry riverbed out in the wilderness somewhere. Growing up in California and having spent quite a bit of time hiking and camping throughout the Golden State (often in a fruitless attempt at locating Bigfoot), I recognize my proverbial backyard when I see it. I don’t know whether this opening shot is supposed to be Alien-Cam from the ET’s point of view or just fanciful camera work (EDIT: the director's commentary makes it clear that it IS alien-cam). The sun is still newly risen in the sky as we see a hunter walking along the riverbed, rifle in hand and puffing on a stogie as he saunters along. No, this isn’t going to be a PSA from the NRA, so just relax.

He makes his way to a Winnebago parked along the riverbed and calls out to someone named Randy, saying, “come on, boy!” He calls several times and even bangs on the door in order to get this Randy up and moving. My guess is, Randy is a late sleeper. In fact, Randy claims he wants to sleep some more but the hunter, who is Randy’s father apparently, gets upset and insists that Randy get his ass up. Here I was expecting some lazy teen to appear in all his pimple-face glory, but who should exit the Winnebago but a full grown man, complete with 1970’s porn mustache!

It soon becomes apparent that father and son really don’t get along very well. This hunting trip must be some sort of attempt at bonding or healing past wounds, but it doesn’t seem to be working. The two go off with their shotguns, Pops dressed in his hunting gear and Randy decked out in blue jeans and a bright blue shirt. Yep, that will really help you blend in amongst the foliage. The two argue quite a bit with dad exhorting the virtues of outdoor life and hunting while declaring his son a “sissy.” Randy feels that proving himself a man does not require shooting defenseless animals with a gun. The two verbally spar a bit more and then dad goes off by himself to bag some game. Randy empties the shells from his shotgun onto the ground and takes a seat by the edge of the water. This must be summer, as the river is little more than a creek in this area (EDIT: this was actually filmed in December).

Disgusted, Pops looks back at Randy and is about to turn and resume his hunt when there is a strange whirring noise. A fleshy little frisbee comes spinning through the air and lands right on his neck. It quickly produces several sharp barbs and tendrils that instantly burrow into the skin of his neck and cheek. The wounds are quickly dripping a thick, yellow pus-like substance. Another flesh frisbee comes whirring along and attaches itself to the back of his shoulder. With two alien parasites sucking the life from him, he staggers back toward Randy.

For his part, Randy just looks on as his dad begs for help and then keels over. A whirring sound denotes the approach of yet another flying flesh frisbee, so Randy quickly grabs his shotgun, aims and fires…and then just as quickly remembers that he removed the shells. Another parasitic disc comes whirling towards the camera…well, more like reeled in toward the camera while dangling on a very visible wire…and we hear Randy let out a very unmanly scream. Maybe he was a sissy after all. Fade to black.

Fade in. We see Sandy and Beth walking toward Greg and Tom. It seems Beth and Tom are an item, but Greg and Sandy are meeting for the first time as some sort of blind date. The four pile into a hideous yellow van with an even more hideous wood paneling interior and begin their jaunt to the woods. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be an overnight excursion or just a day trip. Along the way they stop at some hole-in-the-wall gas station along their route. Tom honks his horn a few times like he was in the big city and expects some fool to fall all over himself on his way to service them, but no one appears to offer help.

The girls pile out in order to head to the ladies room (naturally), stopping to look in disgust at a dead bobcat hanging from a nearby tree. They then find the women’s restroom locked as well as the men’s room. Beth runs off, having to urgently pee. She’s either off to find a key to the bathrooms or else to find a bush behind which to have a tinkle. Sandy leans on the door to the men’s room and it magically swings wide open. Written on the wall inside are the words NO CHANCE NO HELP NO ESCAPE. Oddly enough, I’m pretty damn sure that these are the same words inscribed over the doors to Trump Tower.

As she is looking over this ominous message, a man comes out of the stall and derides her for being in the men’s latrine. Hey, buddy! This is a new day and age. Maybe she is biologically female, but identifies as male! Have you thought about that? Of course not, because this is 1980 and it would be decades before such concerns made the nightly news and social media circles. Anyway, she asks him what the creepy words on the wall mean, but he mutters something about not figuring out kids “today” and leaves. That was Fred “Sarge” Dobbs and he’ll be showing up again later in the film.

Outside, Tom and Greg have still found no one about to help them. Tom then notices that the ancient gas pumps at this place don’t lock and that they can crank it by hand. The gas now pumped, the girls show back up, having used the men’s room to pee. Tom wants to bail without paying for the gas, but the others insist on not being pricks. Sandy pushes open the door to the gas station and the four walk in to find a place that hasn’t been kept up very well. Lots of dead animal trophies adorn the wall.

An older guy appears (not the same one from the bathroom), startling Sandy. This is Joe Taylor. He asks what they want. Tom explains they wanted to pay for the gas they took and forks over a twenty. As Joe makes change, he notes that he has never seen them in these parts before. Beth says that they are “going to the lake.” Joe warns them not to go, as it is hunting season and accidents have been known to happen with people from out of town. HUH? I can see an accident occurring if a hunter accidentally shoots at another person who may be decked out in camouflage, but this guy makes it sound like such mistakes only happen with strangers from out of town. Are the locals really such poor marksmen, or are they purposely aiming for strangers?

The four young people ask about the trophies littering his walls and Joe admits to having shot all those animals, but not just for sport. He eats what he kills. The kids are ready to leave, but he warns them again not to go to the lake. The kids agree and leave. I’m betting they’re gonna head straight for that damn lake. When do kids ever listen in these films? Or in real life for that matter?!

“Okay, can anyone think of a way to be prepared…besides retaining a lawyer?”We turn our attention to another creek winding its way through the hills. For all I know it’s the same damn creek we saw in the beginning of the movie, only further up or down stream. Hell, it could be the same location, just shot from a different angle. It all looks about the same. Along comes a cub scout troupe and their Scoutmaster. The seven youths – who look no older than about ten or eleven – are singing “72 bottles of beer on the wall” while the Scoutmaster half mumbles, half hums The Battle Hymn of the Republic. He stops their march and gives them a speech about being in the wilderness. When he comes to the part about not being lost because their compass, he opens it up and sees that it is spinning wildly in all directions. That’s a sure sign of several things:

1. Your ass is lost.
2. There is a magnetic disturbance nearby strong enough to muck up your compass.
3. Anything capable of that magnitude of magnetic interference is not something you want to get too close to.
4. Despite that, there is most likely a whole heap of trouble heading in your direction.
5. People will starting sizing up each other, deciding who gets eaten first.

Mr. Scoutmaster is not too concerned, since he figures they can just follow the stream to the lake. He then gives the kids the task of collecting a rock or stick to take home to their parents as a memento, reminding them not to pick up a rattlesnake. Are these kids mentally challenged or something? Why do they need to be reminded of that? Any fool who has spent enough time outdoors or who as even cracked open a few books or EVEN watched a freakin’ episode of WILD KINGDOM knows that rattlesnakes are venomous and can kill your ass dead. Then again, we live in a day and age when kids are eating detergent or snorting condoms and filming themselves doing so. Brains don’t seem to be in abundance.

As the kids begin racing around looking for rocks and sticks, the Scoutmaster walks further along the riverbed. Eventually he spies a Winnebago parked nearby, yup, it’s the same one that belonged to Randy and his irritable father. He approaches and knocks on the door, calling out to anyone who may be inside, claiming he needs help and that his blisters are killing him. There is no answer, but he thinks he hears something and turns to look. You can just barely make out something moving in the bushes quite some distance away, and then it’s gone. Truth be told, I didn’t notice it the first time I watched the film, it was only after I knew what the alien looked and like and what to watch for that I saw it standing there in the bushes for a that split second. Anyway, Mr. Scoutmaster walks in that direction, calling out again, no doubt hoping that the owners of the Winnebago will hear him. He comes across Randy’s discarded shotgun and paperback book, but after still not receiving any reply to his calls, decides to light up a cigarette. Alas, he has no matches and no lighter, so improvising, he bends down and places the cigarette near a large rock (one end is still in his mouth) and tries to create a spark by striking a second rock against it. I’ve heard of some needy people, but this poor SOB desperately wants a smoke!

He has no luck creating a spark, but a nicotine fix is suddenly the last thing on his mind as one of the Flying Flesh Frisbees lands on his back and instantly sinks its barbs and tendrils into his skin. He struggles in agony and then a second frisbee lands on his back.

Meanwhile, the cub scouts are still running around, tearing up nature when a large shadow falls over one kid. He looks up and backs away from what he sees. The kids start screaming and soon the whole pack is in flight, running as fast as their short little legs can carry them away from whatever is they see, several of them screaming like banshees and no doubt more than one having crapped in his undies (given their age, that might have already occurred before the scary shadow came along). This scene is odd because there is this high pitch shrieking throughout that sounds like a monkey having its back waxed, but it starts before any of the kids are screaming, which leads me to believe that the alien is making these sounds to chase off the kids. It lets out nine of these shrieks as the kids going careening down the creek in fright, drowning out much of their own screeching.

We return now to Tom, Greg, Beth and Sandy who have arrived at a small lake. It’s really more of a big pond (EDIT: it was actually shot at a reservoir). Sandy wonders if old Joe was right and some moron hunter might mistake them for deer and blow them away, but Tom assures her that everything is just fine. Almost instantly, the four of them have stripped down to their swimwear and everyone runs for the lake…except for Sandy. She looks at the surrounding hills as if she hears something strange. She shrugs it off and joins the others.

Elsewhere, Alien-Cam lets us know that the as-yet-unseen alien is still stalking the creek area. Then it’s back to the four youths splashing in what looks like some really cold water. Things are heating up, at least for Tom and Beth. Their constant lip lock and squeezing each other denotes that they may need some alone time in order to boink. Greg asks Sandy if she wants to go for a walk, no doubt so the two lovebirds can boink in privacy. Soon enough we see Greg and Sandy climbing to the top of one of the nearby hills, portable radio in hand and chatting away.

More Alien-Cam tells us the ET is still walking along the creek. Then it’s back to the lake where Tom and Beth have exited the water and stretched out a blanket on the ground. A Star Wars blanket I might add, exactly like one I used to have during this same time period, only I used mine to hide under after watching late night horror movies. These two are going to use theirs for something else. Something that surely ends with the blanket stained with all manner of bodily secretions. Tom and Beth start making out and we can assume that within a very short time they’ll be engaged in the horizontal mambo. Another Alien-cam shot seems to imply that the ET is getting closer.

“Yeah, I could have bought a Ford, but I wanted something that runs.”Somewhere else, Greg and Sandy are having trouble getting the portable radio to work. No stations are coming in (duh, you’re in the wilderness), but a strange, artificial sound can be heard. Sandy claims that she doesn’t like it. The two then agree that Tom and Beth have had adequate time to screw and decide to head back to the lake. When they arrive, there is no sign of Tom and Beth. The Star Wars blanket is rumpled on the ground. Thinking that Tom and Beth may have taken the action back to the van, Greg and Sandy approach the vehicle cautiously, not wanting to interrupt their friends while they might be playing a game of Park The Beef Bus in Tuna Town. Alas, the van is quite empty and shows no signs of having been used as a makeshift sex shack. So now assuming Tom and Beth went for a walk, Greg and Sandy opt to have some of the food they brought with them.

An hour later, the food has been eaten but Tom and Beth have not returned. Greg is a little annoyed, thinking that the other two are being insensitive. So Greg and Sandy decide to go look for their missing friends and follow a path away from the lake. At one point Sandy falls into a pit that was probably dug by a hunter and used to ensnare prey.

Alien-Cam lets us know that ET has arrived at a location the pair were at just moments ago. Oh, snap! It’s getting closer!

Greg pulls Sandy – who is unhurt - out of the pit. He thinks that perhaps Tom and Beth might have fallen into another pit and may be in need of assistance. Sandy spots a small shack a short ways away, so the two decide to investigate it. As they get close, they see lettering stenciled on the door that denotes that the shack belongs to the “water department.”

After a brief moment of hesitation, they open the door and walk in. Holy crap! What greets them is nothing less than five dead bodies hanging on hooks: Randy, his dad, the Scoutmaster, Beth and Tom. All show signs of having suffered some gnarly wounds – which we know were caused from those flying flesh frisbees – and are all dripping mucous and pus all over the place. In their shock, they knock Tom’s body loose and it falls to the floor like a sack of potatoes. Naturally, Sandy FREAKS out bigtime and Greg has to physically haul her ass outside and pull her quite strongly to get her ass in motion. The two then proceed to run like hell.

It’s dark by the time they get back to the lake and the van. They pile in and go nowhere. Greg cannot find the keys. As he looks desperately for them, an exterior Alien-Cam shot tells us that the ET is very close. There’s a squeaking sound and SPLAT! One of those flesh Frisbees lands on the windshield. Quickly, it starts to eat its way through the glass. As Greg continues to look for the keys, there is an odd sound and Sandy quickly realizes that SOMETHING is trying to get in through the van’s side door. The handle can be seen starting to turn in a surprising moment of creepiness. What could be just one the other side?!

Now at this point, you and I would no doubt do the exact same thing. We’d look in the side view mirror to determine just who or what is trying to open the door, but neither of these two seems concerned with that. Finally, Greg locates the keys under the sun visor and after about five attempts, the engine finally turns over. They race away in the van. It's odd because they seemed to just go straight forward once the van started, but earlier we saw that the van was parked in a postion that would not allow that without driving straight into the lake. Somehow they had to turn around, but in doing so you'd think they would see whoever was trying to open the side door. As they zoom down the road, they use the windshield wipers to remove the flesh frisbee from the glass.

Eventually they find themselves at a country bar and stop. Sandy stays in the van while Greg goes inside to get help. Within, he announces that his friends have been murdered, but the woman behind the bar and the locals want to hear his story before they will call the sheriff. I guess strangers routinely drop in and announce that a massacre has occurred, so they must verify they are telling the truth before bothering to alert the authorities.

Outside, Sandy is sitting in the van when a strange shadow passes by. Humanoid, but with an enlarged cranium. Since she cannot see the shadow on the van from her perspective, she must have caught a glimpse of the alien casting it, as she panics, flees the van and runs into the bar. Well, that’s what a sane person would do. She however, runs into the nearby woods. Is she trying to get killed? Lucky for her she runs into old Joe Taylor rather than the Bighead Alien. What I want to know is this: how did the alien get there so quickly? Seriously, Greg and Sandy just arrived themselves after having driven at least a few miles. Was the alien running on the road behind them at 50+ miles per hour? Did he ride a jetbike? Did he "beam" himself there? How did he get there so damn fast?

Inside the bar, Greg is describing the flying creature that attacked the van. Local yokel Leo calls over Sarge, who is nearby playing pool. Remember, Sarge is the cranky guy Sandy ran into in the bathroom early in the movie. Sarge comes over and we learn that he’s seen these flying creatures, too. In fact, the locals are sick of hearing Sarge’s stories about the things and wonder if Greg is just someone Sarge paid to come in and talk about them. Greg says that Sandy has seen them, too. Sarge wants her to come inside to help corroborate his and Greg’s stories of flying creatures. They go outside to get Sandy, but of course, she is not in the van.

Sarge is certain that Sandy has been captured and starts barking orders to Greg. The bartender, Aggy, yells at Sarge, reminding him that he is not in the army anymore. Then she explains to Greg that Sarge has suffered in the past and often forgets where he is, though he has never hurt anyone. She tells him to come inside and she’ll call the police. As they head inside, Sarge mutters to himself, “No chance. No help. No escape.” Gee, where have I heard that before?

Inside, Sarge starts spouting off his paranoia about invading aliens, weak countrymen and then brandishes a pistol, vowing that they won’t get him without a fight. Aggy announces that the sheriff will be along in a while, right after he finishes rounding up a pack of lost cub scouts from the city. So at least we know those seven terrified kids made it out of the woods okay. Sarge argues with the locals a bit more about his 26 years in the army.

“She just passed out in my arms. Believe it…or not.”The door opens and in walks in Joe Taylor, carrying an unconscious Sandy. They sit her down and as she comes to, she mumbles that she saw “it” and that “it” was huge. So I guess she did get a direct look at the big ET as it walked past the van. Either that or she caught a glimpse of William Shatner’s hairpiece. She tells them how she and Greg found the shack where the creature is storing the bodies.

Right about now the power goes out, plunging the bar into darkness. Tell me THAT isn’t a good sign! Aggy thinks nothing of it and starts lighting candles and lamps. If she is so accustomed to the power going out she is either really spotty in her utility payments or the local energy provider is about as reliable as a Nigerian Prince. Sarge, however thinks that this is just a tactic taken by the alien in its assault on the locals. Everyone else just passes it off as the power company having issues, but Sarge ain’t having none of it. Aggy quietly tells Joe that she may need his help with Sarge later. I guess Sarge getting all worked up is nothing new to these folks.

There’s a strange sound from outside. Joe asks Sandy if she could find the shack again, but she shakes her head no. Sarge keeps muttering his rhetoric and when is told by Aggy to finally put a cap on it, he brandishes his pistol again and claims he’ll go outside and do something about the situation. Joe grabs and him and tells him to calm down, as he is frightening the ladies. Sandy says she feels a chill and then the noise from outside is heard again. This time the front door opens and someone walks in. Sarge doesn’t waste any time in whipping out his gun and squeezing off a shot.

Alas, the fool has shot the Sheriff! Cue up the Eric Clapton! Ben, the Sheriff is sprawled out on the floor, unconscious but still breathing. Now they have to call for help AGAIN, this time for an ambulance. Sarge tries to excuse his rash behavior and then looks at Greg and blames it on him, as all the trouble began after Greg arrived. Joe disarms Sarge and tells Greg and Sandy to head outside. He passes the gun to one of the patrons so they can keep an eye on Sarge until more help arrives.

Outside, Joe finds one the flying flesh Frisbees attached to a wooden column. Using a knife he pries it loose and stuffs it into his pocket. He convinces Greg and Sandy to ride with him in his truck back to the shack with the bodies, under the guise of finding proof to convince the authorities that help is needed.

Back at the bar, Sheriff Ben is loaded into an ambulance. Sarge just keeps muttering his No Chance, No Help, No Escape mantra. I think it’s safe to assume that Sarge here is just a few cards short of a full deck.

Joe stops by his gas station and with Greg and Sandy waiting in his truck, goes inside, and places the flesh frisbee he obtained earlier in a jar of water. While he’s inside, Greg and Sandy debate staying with Joe. She wants to bail as they hardly know the guy and their friends are beyond help. He wants to stay and help kill whatever it was that murdered their pals. Before any decision can be made, Joe returns, hops in the truck and away they go. As they drive, Joe shows them the scar on one arm where one of the flesh frisbees nearly got him. He admits that he is out to kill the alien and has kept quiet about his knowledge as he doesn’t want to be considered a loon like crazy old Sarge.

About now they enter the area where the shack is located. All three pile out and walk through the misty woods, Joe armed with a flashlight and a rifle. Soon enough they come upon the shack and we learn from Joe that all the big holes in the area – like the one Sandy fell in earlier – have been dug by Sarge in his efforts to catch the alien. THAT was his big plan? Dig a hole and hope for the best? I’ve seen better plans in any episode of Scooby-Doo…and we all know how those NEVER work.

Dare you enter the shack of acne zombies?“I laughed at my dermatologist’s warnings!”“I should have listened to my mom and not scratched at my acne!”Joe walks to the shack, peeks inside and sees all the bodies. Then he returns to where the others are waiting. They want to go, but realizing that this is where an alien hunter is storing its kills and that sooner or later it will be back, he wants to stay and ambush it. Well sooner or later turns out to be A LOT sooner as out of the dark comes a flying flesh frisbee, which promptly lands on Joe’s leg. Down he goes with a cry of pain. As he writhes around on the ground, he implores the others to take the light and leave him. They do as he says and as they flee they narrowly miss being hit by a couple more flesh frisbees as they come hurtling through the night towards them to land on trees instead.

Alone, Joe uses his hunting knife to kill and remove the flesh frisbee on his leg.

Greg and Sandy emerge from the woods onto a two lane road and attempt to flag down a car. One goes whizzing past but the next one slows down. They’re in luck! It’s a police car! The vehicle comes to a stop and without wasting another moment, both Greg and Sandy pile into the back seat. The car begins moving and Greg starts to explain everything that has happened. Alas, their night just keeps getting worse as the vehicle is being driven by Sarge, who obviously has his own agenda and stole the car from Sheriff Ben after the latter was hauled off to the hospital somewhere.

We see Joe Taylor return again to his gas station, no doubt having driven there in his truck. If he got there that fast by walking – with a gimp leg, don’t forget – that truly would be impressive. He retrieves a box of things from his back room. Things that look a lot like an old TNT detonator along with a quantity of dynamite.

Meanwhile Greg and Sandy are trying to convince Sarge to go back and help Joe, who they believe is still laid out in the woods, but in actuality is lugging his explosives back to the shack. Sarge however, has gone irretrievably off the deep end, believing the kids to be dead and their bodies being controlled by the alien…who we still have not fully seen yet, by the way. Sarge stops the car and forces Greg and Sandy out at gunpoint to interrogate them.

They try at first to dissuade him of his illusions, but seeing that he’s too far gone, Greg begins outlying the alien “plan” for conquest and when Sarge is slightly distracted, he pushes him down and then he and Sandy run for it. Sarge squeezes off a few shots from his old pistol, but his aim is not what it used to be and he misses with all of them. The pair run through the woods and come upon another road, but here comes Sarge in his stolen police car! The two run away from the vehicle along the road as it travels over a tall bridge. With Sarge roaring up behind them, they jump over the side and fall quite some distance to a river below. Sarge shoots again at them, but doesn’t score any hits.

Greg and Sandy swim to shore and after a brief walk find themselves at a house out in the woods. They approach, now looking very dry for having been in the water just seconds ago. They break open a back door and enter. The place shows signs of habitation, but no one is home at the moment except for a cat that scares the crap out of them. The phone is dead, but at least they find some dry clothes in which to change.

A POV shot lets us know that someone…or something is approaching the house outside.

Greg and Sandy look around the place and realize that it’s somebody’s vacation cabin and that no one has been there in quite some time. Then who takes care of the cat?!! Sandy starts to break down, as the weight of all that has happened begins to hit her. Greg puts her to bed and tells her to sleep while he stands guard. At first light they will leave. He goes to the kitchen to make some coffee to help keep him awake.

As he’s puttering around the kitchen, Sandy calls out to him after having a nightmare. He runs to her, but we see a shadow moving that did not belong to him. Someone is outside and nearby. Greg goes to comfort Sandy and as he does there is a sound and they both look up and realize the cabin door is open. Could it be that Cat? The cabin’s owners? Sarge? They check it out but find nothing out of the ordinary. They shut the door and then Greg sees that the kitchen faucet is running. He was sure he turned it off before leaving the room, so maybe they had better have another look around. They look around again and find nothing, so he puts Sandy back to bed and heads off to the kitchen. The two seem to be bonding a wee bit. Next we see him sitting in a chair, sipping a huge cup of coffee.

Sometime later Sandy wakes again and slips on her pants, which now look pretty dry. She calls out to Greg and walks to where he is sitting in the chair. He has not answered her, though she can see his head from her position behind the chair. She swings the chair around to reveal poor Greg with one of those flesh frisbees attached to his face. He looks quite dead. Sandy screams and recoils in shock, hitting a hanging light in the process and sending it swinging back and forth, which creates quite the light show. She looks over and standing not far away is the alien! Where was it hiding? It's huge and earlier they checked the cabin but couldn't find anything. Was it curled up under the sink or something? The alien snarls and reaches for her! We finally see it for the first time.

“Dude, turn the light out!”Okay, not to say that the alien is terrible in appearance, because it is not. I was just expecting something different the first time I saw this film. The creature is tall. In fact the creature is VERY tall. Okay, he’s freakin’ tall! His head almost touches the ceiling. Speaking of his head, it’s bald, blue-gray in color and with an oversized cranium. A lot like what your standard “grey” alien would look like, only with a bigger head and a lot taller…and with clothes on. Why are greys always presented as walking around naked? Who knows. Anyway, THIS alien is wearing an outfit that looks like a skein of dirty yarn just exploded all over a leather welders outfit.

Sandy screams a few more times and then flees the house. Outside she looks around and then decides to hide in a storage area built under the cabin (the place is built on a slight hill, so the main living area is on the upper floor and the lower area seems to be an area that is not used). From there she watches as the alien walks by and seemingly out of sight. She relaxes only to find the alien’s hand busting through the window and reaching for her.

She screams, turns and flees through a door into another room on this lower storage area. She shuts and the locks the door behind her and then tries to open a window. The big blue alien begins breaking through the door behind her, but who should appear outside? Joe Taylor! He breaks the window and fires his rifle at the alien, which slows it down long enough for Sandy to scramble outside.

 

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

 

Joe starts running back to the shack and a reluctant Sandy follows. Funny how this shack doesn’t seem to be that far away from all these different places. He explains to her that this alien is not here to invade the planet. He’s not killing to survive. Nope, he’s hunting for sport and looking for a few trophies to take home, only now Joe has a plan to turn the tables on big bald and blue and it requires them to return to the shack full of dead people.

They arrive near the shack and stop in the shelter of some nearby trees. Joe is positive the alien will return to collect his trophies and then further explains that he has rigged the place with dynamite. All it will take is a quick push down on the detonator’s plunger and KABOOM. Goodbye alien. Sounds like a decent plan. You and I both know that something is going to screw it up.

Well, that something is standing right behind and Joe and Sandy. It’s Sarge, who is convinced that both Sandy and Joe are aliens. He holds them at gunpoint and it is beyond obvious that Sarge is still living a foreign war, thinking that he is still in the jungle. Joe rushes him and the two men fight, Sarge’s pistol going off. The two struggle and eventually Sarge pushes Joe to the ground. Sandy picks up a large piece of a broken tree branch and is about to clobber Sarge over the head from behind when she freezes. Not far off, standing near the shack, is the alien.

Seeing the ET, Sarge walks toward it, holding his gun before him. He mutters more of his paranoia and when he gets closer, we see that the alien is holding a flesh frisbee in each hand. He tosses them at Sarge and they both land on his chest. Their claws and tendrils dig into his flesh and soon enough Sarge keels over dead.

The alien is not standing close enough to the shack to make detonating the dynamite an effective choice, so Sandy pushes Joe’s rifle into his hands and tells him to shoot the alien. Joe aims and fires off a shot. It hits the alien in the upper arm and after a brief second delay, the alien’s arm spouts liquid like a fountain. It’s almost comical how the liquid just pours out of the wound like something out of an old cartoon.

The alien retaliates by throwing a flesh frisbee at Joe. It lands on his shoulder and Joe drops his rifle and uses his knife to kill and remove the nasty little bugger. Then another flesh frisbee lands on the back of his shoulder. He cannot reach this one, so he tells Sandy it is up to her now. When he gets the alien closer to the shack, she is to push the plunger down and detonate the dynamite. Then with an almost comical cry of “Alien! Alien! Alien!” he rushes at the big, bald, blue ET. He runs past it to the shack, hoping to lure it closer.

He yells at Sandy to push the plunger, which she does. Nothing happens. It seems it wasn’t wired up properly. As she hurries to get them connected, Joe throws himself at the alien’s feet in order to keep it from walking away. Sandy gets the wires connected and then pushes down the plunger. KABOOM. The shack explodes. Five times. Yes, FIVE TIMES. I realize it’s just the same explosion shot from different angles and edited together, but it still seems like the place exploded five times. The alien is killed - after letting out a scream that sounded like an elephant having his balls whacked with a towel - and we see its body on the ground, burning. And then the alien corpse explodes another three times! What where its clothes lined with bars of C4?

Where my patience is at.“That will teach them to not have a party without inviting me.”Sandy is now all alone in the woods. I hope the key to Joe's truck is still in the ignition. I'd hate to think that she'd have to dig through his burned corpse for it. Maybe she can find the stolen police car that Sarge was driving. Digging through is pockets for the keys would be a lot easier, seeing as how currently he isn't a giant piece of toast. Anyway, the camera pans to the sky and we hear some of Sarge’s words from earlier in the film when he was in the bar: “You think we’re the only living creatures in this universe? Do you think that with all those stars out there we’re the only things to exist? Well, I’ve got news for you. We ain’t. We ain’t alone.”

At this point, there are all sorts of unanswered questions that I guess we’re just not going to get answers to, like where is the alien’s spaceship? Is it parked nearby or did one of his alien pals drop him off on earth and schedule a pick up for later? How long had the alien been hunting in the area? It seems some of the locals – like Joe and Sarge – knew that something was wrong. Joe even escaped a flesh frisbee at some point, so the alien had to have been in the region for a little while. Why weren’t there more missing person reports? Did the cub scouts report what they saw? What did Sandy do next? Anyone who could corroborate her story is now dead. She had better save the burnt alien corpse so she has some evidence to show the authorities, or else she might get blamed for it all.

Cue sappy music. Roll credits.


Review

“Dude, turn the light out!”Storyline
This movie is the brainchild of Greydon Clark who began his career as an actor for legendary z-grade filmmaker Al Adamson before pursuing his own career directing low budget films including Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977), The Return (1981), Wacko (1982), Uninvited (1988), Out of Mind, Out of Sight (1990), Danse Macabre (1992), Dark Future (1994) and Stargames (1998), as well as also writing, producing and acting in Psychic Killer (1975) as the philandering cop who is literally driven over the edge. Indeed, he has put in small appearances in most of his films.

The story seen here is not new by any stretch of the imagination. A group of young people head into the woods for a day of fun and then things take a horrible turn and most then meet grisly ends. That basic plot has played out dozens upon dozens of times. Back in the 80’s, most times it was a crazed human killer that was responsible for all the carnage, but here we have a bonafide extraterrestrial that is to blame for everything. To make things worse, this alien is here on Earth for the sole purpose of hunting and killing human prey.

I suppose that when you get down to the very basics of the story, the human characters could have come from any age group or any walk of life. Of course the producers are well aware that most horror movie tickets are bought by teens and those slightly older, so it was a no brainer to make the core protagonists a group of young folks out for a day of frivolity. When your character’s sole motivation is having a good time with the possibility of getting laid, well you’ve connected with a majority of the audience right there. While appealing to young folks, we have the young characters running around the film mostly reacting to what is transpiring around them. The ones that seem to take steps to remedy the situation are the older ones, even if one is slightly off his rocker. Lets’ examine the film’s roster of characters next.

Characters
First off we have the four young people: Sandy, Greg, Beth and Tom. We really don’t get to know them very well and not much is revealed about them. Tom and Beth are hardly in the film. They’re around just long enough to start making out and then get killed off screen. Both characters can be summed up in one word: horny. Sandy and Greg are slightly more fleshed out, “Dude, turn the light out!”though we still know very little about them. Having just met, the two are getting to know one another at the same time we are, so the lack of characterization can be overlooked. We can see that Greg is a decent guy who tries to respect Sandy while she is also presented as the wholesome, girl next-door type. In the long run, this plays upon the audience’s feelings. As horror films have taught us, promiscuity (as in the case of Beth and Tom) will get you killed, so the two that are NOT engaging in such behavior are seen as undeserving of the crap that gets thrown at them.

While the kids may be a bit thin, we get much more with the older characters of Sarge and Joe Taylor. I cannot help but think that this is due to the much more experienced actors in those roles. These are two that have had decades to hone their craft and it shows. In subsequent years both Martin Landau and Jack Palance would win Oscars for their work, so it’s no surprise that even in a cheap, low budget horror film, they both steal the movie with their performances. Joe is the cranky, but heroic one, who warns the kids away from the lake and who has made it his personal quest as a hunter himself, to kill the alien. Sarge on the other hand, has spent 26 years in the army and has come home damaged. It’s never stated as fact, but the clues are there to show that Sarge was captured while serving in Vietnam and was treated horribly by his captors. His grip on reality has been slowly slipping and the alien’s deadly activities have only hastened his paranoid breakdown and descent into complete madness. Landau does an excellent job at portraying the scary side of someone who has lost touch with reality.

Music and FX
Overall the music is adequate for the proceedings and is nothing really special. It fits the movie, helping to establish mood and atmosphere in places, but not really standing out. There is a certain feel to one of the main themes (the one that plays over the closing credits and is featured elsewhere in the film) that really dates the movie. Hearing it is nostalgic for me, as I remember watching horror movies during this time and the music takes me back to my childhood when everything on the silver screen was magical. So I guess in that sense, the music was more successful to me now that it would have been had I seen this film in 1980.

“Dude, turn the light out!”As for the FX, they are quite good for the budget constraints and time period. Naturally this was a pre-CGI era, so everything is practical in execution. The flying flesh discs that the alien tosses about look other worldly, yet convincingly real with their teeth, pointed barbs and tendrils. Their tendency to secrete nasty looking bile-like goo once attached to a victim doesn’t hurt. The dead people stored in the alien meat locker are also quite real looking with their grievous wounds on display. For all its derivative look, the alien itself still looks great, though it doesn’t show up on screen a whole lot. I wouldn’t be surprised if the budget only allowed for the late Kevin Peter Hall to be in full alien garb only one or two days on set.

Technique
The movie looks really good for low budget and I feel that a large portion of that is due to Dean Cundey’s Cinematography. It certainly shines during the first portion of the film and really helps make the broad daylight locales seem menacing and eerie. While there are some great instances in the latter half of the movie set at night and using mist to help light a scene as well as create atmosphere, there are a few too many times that capturing moving vehicles in the dark seemed to challenge the budgetary constraints. Unfortunately, the directing often fails to match the feeling evoked by the visuals. There is very little tension, despite the film showcasing an unknown and unseen threat for much of the running time. This angle is never really played up, which is too bad, as it could have really added to the overall feel of the movie. Where the directing is good is when we come to the flow of the movie. Things unfold at a good pace and while the movie does slow a wee bit in the second act, everything we see is important in getting to the finish line and before you know it, the movie is over.

Summation
This is a film that for me, is more than just the sum of its parts. There are a lot of little things that seem lacking when reviewing the movie – some thin characters, little tension, a few barely adequate night shots, a slow second act, forgettable music and a monster that hardly appears on screen. Yet, despite all that, Without Warning is a pretty good flick. It transcends all the small bumps and ends up being quite watchable. In spite of a slow second act, things still unfold interestingly enough to keep one watching until the end.

 

Expect To See:
Aliens - One extremely tall, blue alien in this film…and no, it wasn’t one of the Na’vi from the planet Pandora. This guy was as bald as a cue ball and much less sociable. I wonder if he was on holiday from his day job? Maybe he was a dentist or something on his homeworld.
Crazy People - Sarge has definitely lost his marbles, no doubt a result of PTSD after 26 years in the army. He sees one alien and the next thing you know, he thinks there is a massive invasion underway and that everyone around him is an ET in disguise in need of a bullet.
Forest Hijinks - Lots of running around in the trees, though to get technical about it, it really isn’t a forest per se, just the typical scrub oak countryside one finds quite common in California. Still, enough trees to warrant this one.
Monsters - Aside from the big blue alien, there are the Flying Flesh Frisbees that he hurls at people. These little organic suckers are almost more frightening than big blue head, as they’re the ones that bore into your flesh and drain the life from you. Kind of like lawyers!
Skin - Not a lot of this, but when the four young people decide to go swimming in the lake, they strip down to swimwear, so lots of flesh to be seen, both male and female. Anyone hoping for some gratuitous nudity had better look elsewhere.
Violence - While the people killed by the alien and his flying flesh Frisbees is a horrible sight, the deaths are not overly gruesome. Some don’t even appear on screen! Still, the very nature of the story requires this icon.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: 9
Smokes: 1
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 4
Alien-Cam Shots: 7
Ominous alien shadows: 3
Flesh frisbee parasites thrown by alien: 15
Gunshots fired: 17
Explosions: 1 (looks like 8)
Aggy murders English language: 3
Spring-loaded cats: 1
Times men scream: 4
Times women scream: 14
Times children scream: 12+
Times Alien screams: 10
Times Shadow screamed while watching film: 1

02 Min – Be vewy, vewy quiet.
06 Min – Wire? I don’t see any wire.
08 Min – Somebody call PETA…er…too late.
14 Min – You’re doomed. DOOMED!
18 Min – Alien in the bush!
20 Min – That is a man in desperate need of some nicotine.
30 Min – Damn, it gets dark quick in those parts.
31 Min – Well look in the side view mirror!
34 Min – Begin bar scene.
42 Min – Lights out.
45 Min – Cue Eric Clapton.
47 Min – End bar scene. Finally.
71 Min – Spring-loaded cat.
81 Min – Where was he hiding?
93 Min – KABOOM!


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time one of those flying flesh frisbee parasites comes whizzzing by, take a drink. When you see one land on a human, take another drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

It was open season on
70’s porn actors.


Captain Goiter, another ill-conceived
kids show host.


“Remember men, if it bleeds,
we can kill it.”

 
“Bunch of slack-jawed faggots
around here. This stuff will make
you a god damned sexual
Tyrannosaurus, just like me.”


If only there was someone nearby
who could see he was in trouble.

The only thing missing is a no
swimming sign, a raft and a
flesh eating slime monster.


 
“Wait, I thought I heard my
conscience telling me not to engage
in immoral activity. Oh, nevermind,
it was just the wind.”


 
“I know this water is cold, but I
don’t want to hear anything
about ‘shrinkage’ later.”

“I cannot believe you ate
all my Funyuns!”

“Raar! I’m a monsta!”

“We don’t know your name nor do
we wanna know your name.
Just order a freakin’
beer already.”


Pickled alien balls, a delicacy
I can live without.

“Do I have something on my face?”

“Oh, yeah? YOU try finding clothes
with collars that fit
around this head!”

I’ve heard of taking a leak, but that
is ridiculous.

Apparently, “Ya’ all watch this”
were common last words amongst
aliens as well.

 

Immortal Dialog

Joe returns Sandy to Greg at the bar.

Sandy: “Greg, thank god. I saw it. It was horrible.”
Sarge: “You seen it? You seen the creature?”
Sandy: “Yeah, it was huge."

Shadow’s Comment: Looks like Rebel Wilson is passing through town.


Joe Taylor's last stand.

Joe: “It’s up to you now. When I get that alien to the shack, you push the plunger."
Joe pauses and then charges at the extraterrestrial.
Joe: “Alien! Alien! Alien!”

Shadow’s Comment: Are we absolutely sure this isn't an excerpt from one of Trump's speeches?

 

Keep In Mind
  • Bright blue pants and shirt are acceptable camoflauge colors in some locations.
  • A shotgun works better when loaded.
  • The “water department” maintains small shacks in the middle of nowhere.
  • Lone aliens can travel miles in minutes, seemingly without technological aid.
  • Small town folk want your story first before calling the cops for help.
  • Cats are left as caretakers for vacation properties.
  • Seven foot-tall aliens have the stealth skills of a ninja.
  • Aliens bleed like a severed hot water bottle.

 

This Film & Me

I’ve mentioned several times on this site the book The Great Book of Movie Monsters and how as a kid it exposed me to numerous films I had never heard of at that point. That was an influential book, but there were a handful of others that I obtained back in the 80’s that also introduced me to other films. One book was titled The Great Science Fiction Films and within its pages I came across an image of Jack Palance as Joe Taylor, holding up a jar with one of the alien flesh frisbee parasites in it. That was when I first learned of Without Warning and as the years went by, I uncovered more and more tidbits about the film, but I was never able to see it. Even after the DVD boom, the movie was never released to home video, so it wasn’t until the DVD/Blu-ray combo hit the market a few years back that I finally got the chance to see it. Was it as great as I was expecting? Nope. But then again, it was by no means utter crap either. I think the most eye opening thing for me was the alien’s appearance. I had seen plenty of photos over the years of the flesh frisbee parasites, so I had created a different image in my head of what the alien looked like. Seeing the actual makeup was quite the surprise.

Shadow's rating: Six Tombstones



The Good

  • Good, if unexpected Alien makeup
  • Good gore FX
  • Hot chicks!

The Bad

  • Two deaths occur off screen
  • Alien sounds like zoo animals
  • Alien moves around countryside too fast

The Ugly

  • Slow second act
  • Not the best night photograhy

 

 

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