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Director: Greydon Clark
1980 Approx. 96 min.
With: Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Cameron Mitchell, Neville Brand, Kevin Hall, Larry Storch, Tarah Nutter, Christopher S. Nelson, Lynn Theel, Darby Hinton, and David Caruso
I originally caught "Without Warning" back in the early '80's on a cool double-bill with "The Incredible Melting Man". Remarkably, this film has managed to hold on to all of it's depth, class, charisma, AND it's ability to entertain. Undeniably, this is no small feat.
An alien game hunter from another galaxy chooses a small country town to be it's hunting grounds. Joe Taylor (Palance) becomes aware of the alien's presence and views this as the chance of a lifetime. Taylor considers himself a most cunning hunter and looks upon the predatory alien's arrival as that which he has always desired. The ultimate hunting challenge.
When the alien's activities begin to cause the rapid decline of the towns population, Taylor, with the help of two young people who's friends were slaughtered by the alien, decides to take immediate action.
The two youths in question, Greg and Sandy (Nelson and Nutter), were initially on a blind date. After the murders of their friends, they decide to stay with Taylor and help kill the vicious interplanetary hunter. Their purpose, to avenge the deaths of their innocent friends and to conveniently save their own asses.
This is an incredibly well done film from beginning to
end. For a start, the outdoor scenery is gorgeous. The point of view shots are
done extremely well, successfully creating the illusion of walking in the footsteps
of the character. The atmosphere is thick and the tightly strung scenes of suspense
are of the "Edge of your seat" variety. The early special effects work, courtesy
of Greg Cannom, is GREAT! There are only a couple of effects in the film that
come across as blatantly phony. These involve the flying versions of the alien
hunters parasites (They tend to give you the impression that you're watching
an old, stale, hairy pancake sail through the air!). This though, is an infrequent
effect and a VERY minor complaint. The close-up versions are impressive, slightly
resembling the inter-dimensional jelly-fish creatures seen in Stuart Gordon's
"From Beyond", except here they are
much more believably handled and therefore convincingly menacing.
Most notable, however, is the fact that this film achieves a depth of character very rarely found in the world of the contemporary lower budgeted horror film.
It's slick look and feel, great soundtrack, and unquestionably impressive cast make this ambitious film impossible to resist.
Since I am on the topic of cast, I'll take this opportunity to mention Martin Landau's over the top performance as Sarge, the town crazy. Landau must have had a blast playing up this disturbed ex-vet who claims that he has always known the alien invasion force would come for them all sooner or later. Palance is equally engaging as the obsessive hunter. For those of you who really enjoy the scenes with Palance and Landau together, I recommend you seek out Jack Shoulder's under-appreciated 1982 film "Alone In The Dark".
Director Greydon Clark obviously cared about making the film well. He must have known he had a good thing on his hands. Apparently, the people behind "Predator" thought so to, know what I mean?