Night #15: Without Warning (1980)

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Directed By: Greydon Clark

No Chance… No Help… No Escape!”

This is another from the bowels of horror-themed YouTube channels so naturally, it’s a bit of good movie/bad movie bingo here, but that’s the fun. So what do we have here? Well, it’s a movie with some pedigree actually. More monster movie than slasher movie* this also has the distinction of starring Jack Palance and Martin Landau. True, one is more of an acting heavyweight than the other, but it’s already a better calibre of actor than you’d usually get in these things.

*So here’s a question: Does a slasher movie stop being a slasher movie just because the killer is an alien? Could you make the argument that Alien is just a slasher flick? It bears the basic hallmarks of one that’s for sure. Or are slasher movies really just monster movies since they ostensibly follow the same formula? Thinking about it makes your head hurt. 

With that dilemma out of the way, let us talk about today’s movie. Well, it’s an oddity alright. We start with a father and son hunting team straight out of some comedy. The father is, of course, the most alpha hunter while the son is the bookworm type, though hilariously he seems to be in his mid-30s and acts like he’s fourteen. Anyway, pretty soon these little flying discs attach themselves to the duo and start draining them.

From there we meet our small group of soon to be dead teens, including a very young David Caruso, long before his time as one of the world’s worst and most recognisable TV actors. They seem a little more average than usual and as is par for the course in these things, just want to head to “the lake” for a good time. On the way they stop at a sort of abandoned gas station, which I’m sure inspired a very similar scene in The Cabin In The Woods. That’s where we meet Jack Palance, hamming up a storm as a hunter who hangs his kills up over the station. We also meet Landau around the same time, doing some solid crazy acting as a former Vietnam veteran.

It seems at first that Palance might be in on it, given that he gives warnings to the teens that sound a little too suspicious. But that’s the old classic monster movie red herring gambit (obviously) so you can be sure that nothing comes of it. He’s one of those classic crazy hunter types who wants to hunt the ultimate prey and all that, but given that his gas station is filled with the bodies of your general basic wildlife it seems that his desire could be filled if he just went on safari or something.

The most notable thing about this movie really is the connection to a much better one that came some years later. You see, at some point its decided that the alien is killing for sport (I still don’t know how this is decided) just like the Predator in the movie…well, Predator. In addition to that, Kevin Hall plays the alien here, just as he played the Predator in the movie…well, Predator.

This is fine. It’s weirdly sort of stop and start. Most of the cast culling takes place in the first twenty minutes and then the rest is avoiding Landau’s veteran who has gone off the deep end and is convinced that our young remaining teens are the aliens in disguise. Funnily enough for a former vet he manages to get disarmed no less than three times by the other characters so he’s not exactly a great threat.

Sadly I think it’s safe to skip this one, even as a curiosity. But it is putting me in the mood for a good alien/monster movie, so watch this space.

 

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