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Without Warning  (1980)

( a.k.a.  It Came... Without Warning  )

Cast: Tarah Nutter, Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Christopher S. Nelson, Sue Ann Langdon, Neville Brand, David Caruso, Larry Storch
Director: Greydon Clark
U.S. Distribution: Filmways / HBO (video)
U.S. Release Date: 1980
Running Time: 1:36
MPAA Rating: R

"Earth is the hunting ground, man is the endangered species."

"It preys on human fear. It feeds on human flesh. The alien terror is here on Earth."

More than likely, these poster tag lines were written by the same four people who scripted Without Warning, turning out some downright embarrassing lines for future Oscar-winners Jack Palance and Martin Landau (as if they were not embarrassed enough by just appearing in this campy alien fright-fest).

Palance is blessed with such dialogue as "I'm hunting him, and he don't know it." I choose the word "blessed" because Landau's militant ex-sergeant character has even less-choice lines. When "Sarge" (Landau) shows up in the final scene, the film's heroine Tarah Nutter is allowed some dribble of her own: "What? This is crazy, man. You know this guy. We're human just like you."

The acting and scripting scream LOW BUDGET, and yet the special effects are somewhat better than average. The most-interesting of the effects involve the alien's little Frisbee-like friends, which glow-in-the-dark and resemble spinning grilled cheese sandwiches with teeth. (I kid you not!) Whirling through the air, attaching themselves to humans, slurping and sucking like there's no tomorrow. Oh, yes!

With about 12 minutes left in the film and with a costume right out of the old "Outer Limits" wardrobe department, the alien finally appears only to be shot and spew antifreeze out of its wounds. Alright, so not all of the effects are noteworthy.

For all of its faults, I have grown to like this film more and more with each viewing, but finding it for my movie collection was a big challenge. I actually purchased a dub of an import - complete with Japanese subtitles - from a fellow collector / fan some years ago, only to have it turn up again on late-night cable television in recent years after so many in seclusion. For others who haven't seen Without Warning since 1982 (around 2 a.m. on HBO), it is just as bad as it ever was - and a real guilty pleasure.

 The actor who played the alien in Without Warning is 7'2" Kevin Peter Hall, the tallest of six brothers who were all over 6'5". He was also the alien in both of the Predator movies, a bear in Prophecy (1979) and Harry in the TV series "Harry and the Hendersons". He died in April 1991 of the AIDS virus, which he contracted through a blood transfusion.

 The late actor Ralph Meeker is a minor player (Dave). He previously appeared on an episode of "The Outer Limits" and had numerous other roles on stage, screen and television. Without Warning was the last film he appeared in.

© 2000, Delton Perrodin

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