Without Warning (1980) Starring Jack Palance, Martin Landau, and Larry Storch. Directed by Greydon Clark.
When I was a teenager, channel 7 in New York would play late night horror and scifi movies during the summer. The one flick that my best friend and I looked forward to every year was a cheapo but fun monster/alien romp, Without Warning (also known as It Came Without Warning). It’s old school horror with a very old (school) cast. I think it was made for about fifty bucks, with forty of that going to Jack Palance’s meds to keep him from running from the set blabbering like a lunatic. Oh wait, that’s exactly what his character does throughout the movie.
Look, you can’t go wrong when a movie starts out with Larry Storch (he of F Troop fame) dressed as a Boy Scout leader taking young scouts out for some camping in the woods. Larry was around 60 at the time but looked much older. By the way, he is still very much alive and I saw him last year at a con dressed as Agarn complete with ridiculous hat that was ten times larger than his head. Anyway, these woods are not just filled with birds and critters. An alien ship had landed nearby and the baddies from space just don’t like people. If you stumble across one, they chuck this fleshy throwing star at you so it can dig it’s claws or teeth or whatever into your flesh. It looks a lot like the face hugger from Alien, and was the reason we loved the movie so much. We liked to chuck throwing stars at each other and wished we could get our hands on a living, alien throwing star.
Anyway, Martin Landau plays a mentally unhinged vet who knows something is up, but folks won’t believe him. Jack Palance is a grizzly (what else can he be?) truck stop owner who we all know is going to punch some alien in the face eventually. Both screen legends take their overacting to eleven. It’s amaze-balls to watch! The only problem is, they’re not in the movie enough for my taste. Oh, and you also get the young campers out for a day of swimming and loving. You might recognize a young David Caruso (CSI) years before he hit the big time.
When the movie came out on Blu-Ray in 2014, I was one of the first in line to get it. Watching it now, I can say it’s not exactly pulse pounding. It has inane stretches of dullness that defy logic. I mean, you have two amazing character actors willing to go nuts, and a very cool alien. Just fill every frame with them! What makes this movie significant is that it is the inspiration for this little film called Predator. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a must watch for anyone who loves monster and alien movies. It may no longer capture my imagination the way it did when I was young, but it’s still a blast. Pair it with an ice-cold Budweiser or Schaefer beer so you can drink like the locals in the film.