Thursday, July 17, 2014

Without Warning - Alien Big Game Hunting

Without Warning
Directed by Greydon Clark
Written by Lyn Freeman, Daniel Grodnik

Starring Jack Palance, Martin Landau & Cameron Mitchell

Rated R - Approx 89 Min
Heritage Enterprises Inc.

Filmways Pictures 


 - The Alien Terror Is Here On Earth.
 - It Preys On Human Fear. It Feeds On Human Flesh.

 - Earth Is The Hunting Ground. Man Is The Endangered Species.

Alternate Titles:
Alien Warning
It Came Without Warning
Alien Encounters
The Warning - UK
Llegan sin avisar (They Come Without Warning) Spain
Ilman varoitusta (Without Warning) Finland
Varoitus (Warning) Finland 
Utan varning (Without Warning) Sweden
Terreur extraterrestre (Alien Terror) France
Πλανήτης Γι: Παιγνίδι για εξωγήινους (For Planet: A Toy For Aliens) Greece
Fenyegetés (Threat) Hungary
Horror - Caccia ai terrestri (Horror - Hunt For Land) Italy
Ostrzezenie (Warning) Poland
Alien Shock - West Germany

Das Geheimnis der fliegenden Teufel (The Mystery of the Flying Devils) West Germany

"No escape...."

I was going to wait until the fancy new Blu Ray from Shout Factory dropped to review this one, but damnit, I really wanted to watch it and after watching it, I decided...what the hell....why not review it now and add to the hype!

Palance, Mitchell & Landau!  It's like and early 80's extraterrestrial Expendables! 

Without Warning is another film that falls very nicely into the Campfire Tale Feeling™ brand of movies.  From the first frame, it drips with atmosphere and dread.  The plot is absolutely nothing new:  There's something in the woods and it's hunting humans.  It's how the plot is executed that really makes this one for me.  First of all, there's a who's-who of some of my favorite actors:  Jack Palance, Martin Landau and Cameron Mitchell all under one title?  Sold!  Secondly they save the monster for the end, like a classic should.  For the bulk of the movie we only see the strange little flying critters that it tosses at it's prey, which then attach to them, sucking their fluids out.

The Flying Frisbee Creatures™ in all their glory

These little critters are nasty looking.....they are slimy, brown little pentagon shaped things.  They fly through the air like a Frisbee until they attach to their intended prey.  Then they secure themselves on to said prey through tentacles that burrow into the flesh of the prey.  They have gnashing teeth in the center that look like they could give quite a hickey if given half the chance.

Don't mind the dead bobcat there....

Who the hell is Zorba????

The film opens with Cameron Mitchell's character taking his son on a hunting trip.  It's not very long into their morning excursion that they are both taken out by the Frisbee Critters.  Now you KNOW all bets are off when Cameron Mitchell is the first to go!  We then shift our attention to a teenage foursome on their way to "The Lake".  Isn't it funny how everyplace has "The Lake"?  It never has a's always just...."The Lake".  Kinda like how when they need an expert on something in a flick, they'll just call "The University".  That's always amused me.  Anyway, I digress.

"The Lake"

The foursome, Sandy, Greg, Beth and Tom stop on their way to "The Lake" to get some gas at a little ramshackle gas station.  Right outside there's a dead bobcat hung from a tree.  Huh!  Looks like a friendly place, don't it?  The place appears to be abandoned, so naturally the girls seek out the bathroom while the guys fill up the van after realizing that there are no locks on the pumps.

Greg and Sandy search for their friends
Here we are introduced to two more characters that we'll be seeing more of down the road:  The Sarge (Landau) whom Sandy runs into while investigating the men's room (the women's room is locked) and Taylor, who owns the gas station and is apparently quite the avid hunter.  Hmmmm, foreshadowing much?  The gang pays for their gas and spills the beans that they are headed toward "The Lake".  Taylor warns them not to go there...stating that there are too many hunters around and there have already been accidents.  He makes the kids promise they won't go.  The kids promise (and I'm sure they each had their fingers crossed) and go on their merry way.

What could possibly go wrong with a Scoutmaster bringing a bunch of scouts into alien infested woods?

Naturally, the head start for "The Lake" where they swim and make out and what-not.  It's all downhill from there for the kids.  Tom and Beth vanish and after searching for them, Greg and Sandy come across a shed owned by the Water Dept.  Looking inside they find not only the bodies of Tom and Beth, but of Cameron Mitchell, his son and a Scout Master that was taken out earlier in the film as well.  They make a break for it, running back to the van.  On of the Flying Frisbee Critters lands on their windshield, where we get a good look at the freaky little thing.  Being a horror flick, the van won't start at we get a nice moment of tension as Greg desperately tries to start the van while SOMETHING is trying to get in the side door.  Oh the suspense!

Here's a fun gallery of dead bodies for ya!

Greg and Sandy drive off to find help, ending up at a bar full of country folk.....and Sarge.  Greg tells his tale of finding the bodies in the water shed, and about the Flying Frisbee Creature, which makes the locals think that perhaps the kid is in cahoots with Sarge, who's been babbling about alien invasion for years.  Unfortunately Sarge starts to become more and more unhinged as the night goes on.  The power goes out and as the Sheriff arrives, Sarge shoots him, thinking him to be an alien.  Taylor (remember our hunter friend from the gas station) takes Greg and Sandy and the threesome try to find a way to turn the tables on the extraterrestrial hunter....eventually ending in a western-ish showdown.  Would you have it any other way with Jack Palance?

The Bar Scene is SO Campfire, I felt like I needed s'mores!

I haven't watched this film in years.  It has never been available on DVD and I think the only VHS copies were only available overseas.  The Blu Ray edition from Shout Factory on August 5th is going to be the first time that this film is available on home video in the states.  I do remember seeing in on cable sometime in the late 80's....I have a very strong memory of watching this alone late one night in my family's sun-porch (where we had a nice little entertainment center setup) long after everyone else had gone to bed.  If I'm not mistaken, I had crept downstairs to watch it late one night.

Oh dear Jesus, what in the hell is THAT?

There is a fair amount of gore on display here.  The Flying Frisbee Critters make a bit of a mess when they attach themselves to a victim, with slimy tentacles and gnashing teeth tearing up human flesh.  There's also a good look at the dead bodies hanging in the water shed, with some good gore fx on them.

No nudity in this one.  Couple of girls in bikinis are all yer gonna get here, mister!

Awwww yeah!  First of all there's the Flying Frisbee Critters.  Slimy little pentagon shaped critters with tentacles and teeth that fly through the air just waiting to burrow into your skin and gnaw on you!  Then there's The Hunter alien.  He's a tall, bald mofo that looks very similar to the standard description of aliens.  Only instead of short and grey, he's tall and blue.  Still, a disturbing sight, especially if you're like me and aliens freak you out!

Showdown by the Water Shed

Final Thoughts
Why this movie has never had a wide release before is beyond me.  It's got everything you could possibly want:  Aliens, gore, campy acting, great actors, and a palpable feeling of dread.  Truly one of the best scenes in all of B-movie cinema is the bar scene that takes place about at the midway point.  It oozes that Campfire Tale Feeling™.  I cannot wait until this comes out on Blu Ray.  I would love to see this film cleaned up and I can't wait to see it find a larger audience.  This is truly a classic and a gem.  Don't Miss It!

Final Rating 


  1. I've never, ever seen this, and I've been dying to for years. That Shout Factory release will most probably find its way into my hot little hands come Pre'Ween. I always like to see at least a few movies every October that I've not seen before*, and that's getting harder and harder as I get older. Alone In The Dark is a personal favorite, and of course, that would make a fantastic double bill with this. I need to get my copy of the director's cut of Nightbreed ordered, too.

    * that I'm actually excited to see

  2. This one was on my list of MUST SEE movies for a long time. I purchased a copy back in '06 at a Horror Con and at the time I did not realize that it was a Bootleg VHS-Rip. I was completely in love with the movie when I watched it and immediately tried to find an official DVD copy, which was when I found out there were none. I can't wait to get my mitts on the Shout Factory release. It will be amazing too see it in it's native aspect ratio and (I'm hoping) lots of awesome extra features!

    I'm starting to hunt for my Halloween line-up this year as well. I hear gets tough to find stuff I've never seen...especially when I get wonky and have 12 and 24 hour movie marathons!