A strong cast and FX legend weren’t enough to make this 50s sci-fi throwback anything more than vanilla with an uninspired alien creature.
Teens camping in the woods happen upon an alien kill zone. Let’s dig into 1980’s WITHOUT WARNING, directed by Greydon Clark!
As I See It
This film was directed by Greydon Clark, who has a rather wide variety of films on his resume, including an earlier Dig, Wacko.
The cast of heavyweight actors (Jack Palance, Martin Landau, and David Caruso) couldn’t make up for problems with the script. Their performances are strong, but it’s like putting a drag racer in a stock Toyota Tercel.
Some scenes are echoed in Predator, like the bridge jump scene and pulling themselves up through the mud. Even the actor under the mask is the same, but the writing is not nearly on par with Shane Black.
The gross-out effects will probably be enough to satiate the gore hounds for a moment or two.
The big boy alien is laughable, but something about it reminds me of Pumpkinhead.
Ultimately, I can’t take any movie seriously with monsters that a windshield wiper can kill.
Jack Palance (Joe Taylor) played Curly, the curmudgeon cowboy, in City Slickers — and his twin brother in the subsequent sequel. He also starred alongside Landau again, as well as Donald Pleasance, in Alone in the Dark. He has many other major roles to check out; those two are just the highlights for me.
Martin Landau (Sarge) also has a long list of reputable pictures on his resume, but the standouts for me are Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood and Leonard in Hitchock’s North by Northwest.
David Caruso (Tom) exploded with his role as Detective John Kelly on NYPD Blue and quickly ditched the small screen for big aspirations of being a movie star. It may not have gone as planned, but he has had a successful and continuous career in both film and TV. As far as genre goes, the coveted Session 9 was his vehicle.
Kevin Peter Hall (The Alien) played one of the most famous alien-killing aliens of all time as the original Predator. He also wore one of the best fur suits of all time as Harry in Harry and the Hendersons.
Of Gratuitous Nature
Surely they could have come up with a better battle cry than “Alien! Alien! Alien!” for an actor with such talent as Jack Palance. The Alien’s cry is also questionable, as it is obviously an elephant’s blare.
Before Joe Dante’s The Howling (in which he was a special effect makeup consultant) and John Landis’s An American Werewolf in London (special makeup effects designer and creator), the legendary Rick Baker worked on this film (as well as some other small films like The Empire Strikes Back).
No, the effects aren’t indicative of the talent that we know today, but they weren’t terrible. The gross-out, gooeyness of the hairy flying discs with dog dick-like tentacles was absurd at worst.
Ripe for a Remake
There isn’t enough here that hasn’t been done and done better.
No progeny to report.
Where to Watch
Kino Lorber put out a Blu-Ray in may of 2022 with a bunch of interviews, including one with legendary, late cinematographer and regular John Carpenter collaborator Dean Cundey which came from an earlier, sold-out Scream Factory release. You can stream it on Plex or Flix Fling.