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Saturday 8 October 2011

Burl reviews Without Warning! (1980)

Hi, Burl here with another monster movie review! This one is called Without Warning, and boy what a great cast it has! Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Cameron Mitchell, Neville Brand, Ralph Meeker, Larry Storch – and those are just the old dudes! Then there’s David "Blue City" Caruso in his first ever role – YEEEAAAHHHH! – and I swear to biscuits, in the role of Cameron Mitchell’s son, there’s a guy who looks just like Ponk-Boy!

The movie’s about an alien hunter who stalks unwary Earthlings, but where the Predator had laser guns and other space weapons, this guy tosses around little hairy pies! These pies are living beings with teeth and tentacles, and when they latch on to you, boy are you in for a biting! There’s a town made up entirely of elderly, hard drinking thespians down on their luck, or so it seems; and from the dialogue and a healed scar Jack Palance shows off, we get the sense that the alien has been hunting in this particular dogpatch for quite a while! Maybe the interstellar game wardens have declared it a special cracker hunting ground, I don’t know!

Funny thing, the Cameron Mitchell scenes! He’s not one of the old boys who sit around the bar and talk about whether or not the alien exists; he’s a hunter himself, a real man’s man, and the Ponk-Boy simulacrum that plays his son is a hippie pacifist! Ha ha, does that make Cameron mad! But these two are the most well-rounded characters in the whole movie, practically, and they get knocked off by the alien’s pies pretty much tout suite! We do see them later on, though, hanging in a shed where the alien keeps his victims, and they have big gooey holes in their heads!

Martin Landau plays a demented veteran who decides that the alien is taking over people’s bodies! It’s not such an unreasonable fear given that there really is an alien, and he’s mastered flying pie technology so why not body takeover? And there’s a funny scene where Landau accuses Neville Brand of never having seen real combat – Neville Brand, who was one of the more decorated soldiers of the Second World War! Ha ha, lotta fruit salad on that guy!

The alien himself doesn’t have much of a personality beyond his flying pie deployment – he’s got a big blue head and doesn’t do much of anything! Still, he aroused in Jack Palance a stirring of emotion seldom seen in this award-winning actor! I know this because I read an interview where he says that he never really felt much while he was acting – it was just a job to him! But then he corrected himself and said that no, that’s not completely true: in Without Warning, for the great scene where he rushes the alien and yells “A-a-a-aliennnn,” he recalls really being in the moment! “I hated that goddamn alien,” he said!

It’s a pretty cheap movie with lots of slow and boring parts, but I’m very fond of Without Warning anyway! It was shot by a portly cinematographer named Dean Cundey, who would later shoot one of my very very very all-time favorite movies, The Thing, so it’s got that going for it! And of course I could watch anything with all those great old actors in it! I think the bar scenes are my favourite – if I lived in that town I’d be dropping in there all the time to shoot the shit with those old boys! I give Without Warning two and a half flying pies, along with a hearty ha ha! for the A-a-a-aliennnn scene!

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