Friday, September 5, 2014

WITHOUT WARNING (1980)

WITHOUT WARNING (1980)
Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 96 Minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Greydon Clark
Cast: Jack Palance, Tarah Nutter. Christopher Nelson, Cameron Mitchell, Neville Brand, Sue Ane Langhorn, Ralph Meeker, Larry Stortch

Teenagers Tom (David Caruso, Session 9), Greg (Christopher T. Nelson), Beth and Sandy (Tarah Nutter) head to a rural lake for some fun in the sun. Tom and Beth are the your standard-issue horny teens while Greg and Sandy are more virginal and innocent and the four pile into a shag carpeted Chevy van and drive into the wilderness.

Also in the area are father (Cameron Mitchell) and his son on a hunting trip and a troop of Cub Scouts and they're leader Larry Storch (of TV's F Troop) earning a few merit badges in the great outdoors. The hunters and the scouts all encounter something strange and deadly lurking in the woods, strange flying jellyfish creatures which latch onto victims and dig into their flesh with tentacles and mouthful of teeth. These tiny suckers aren't the only threat in the woods however, these frightful frisbees of death are merely the weapon of choice for an alien creature with a human blood lust.

Our teens stop for gas and encounter scary proprietor Jack (Jack Palance) who warns the teens to stay away from the lake but they just laugh it off. Horny teens never listen to warnings of doom but if they did what fun would that be? They arrive at the scenic water hole and take a dip before the couples split up to pursue their own interests . Of course, it's the horny teens who disappear  without a trace and the virgins are left to sleuth Scooby-Doo style what happened to their companions. Assuming their friends are off fornicating out in the woods they are quite horrified when they find their gooey corpses in a small shack along with the bodies of the scout leader and the hunters. Freaked out they scurry into town and into a bar where they try to tell warn the locals but the drunken townies just are not buying the story. here we have some fun appearances from veteran actors like Neville Brand (Eaten Alive) and the aforementioned Jack Palance. Then there's Sarge, a nutty 'Nam vet (Martin Landau) who suffers from post-traumatic stress and alien paranoia, and who who just  happens to be the only one who believes the teen's wild story. 

Without Warning is the just the kind of drive-in science fiction drive-in I just love to death. Relics from a bygone era of cinema that don't follow logic and are wrought with bad decision making. The cast of characters is fantastic, we have our teens Greg and Sandy who are just the sweetest teens you could ever imagine, they're so nice and polite, it's sort of disgusting. Both of the young ladies in the film cut quite a figure, very easy on the eyes, and while the teens are supposedly the main characters it's  veterans Jack Palance and Martin Landau who both chew the scenery and steal the movie from right from under them whipper snappers. Landau is particularly fun as the bug-eyed lunatic who believes that the teens and pretty much everyone else have been replaced by aliens, just a lot of fun and ridiculous paranoia. 

The low-budget special effects are a lot of fun, those blood-sucking alien jellyfish pulsate and excrete a yellow liquid that was gooey and gross. There's a scene where they latch onto a windshield which offers a close-up and you can see the teeth gnashing away on the underside, most of the effects are pretty dated but I love these latex creatures designs, very enjoyable. The predatory creature design is a thing of schlocky beauty, an elongated grey alien with a massive cranium and long creepy fingers. Perhaps not the most articulated design but very effective and only glimpsed for brief snatches. The reveal of the alien is quite effective, it's a bit of a shame it's spoiled on the artwork for the Blu-ray. . 

Blu-ray: Without Warning arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory in the original widescreen aspect ratio (1.85:1) and appears quite nice. Shot on the cheap it manages to look pretty spiffy with a nice grain structure and some good color saturation. The HD upgrade doesn't give the fine detail a massive bump but a very pleasing image. The source material is in pretty great shape considering this cult item has been hard to come by for years.. The English DTS-HD Mono is clean and well balanced, plus Dan Wyman's creepy score sounds great - there are English subtitles provided. 


Onto the extras we have a 21-minute interview with stars Actors Christopher S. Nelson and Tarah Nutter . Nelson remembers the experience fondly and of working with veterans Jack Palance and Martin Landau, Nutter remembers being cold a lot on set and the struggle to stay warm and being cast in the role. Both speak fondly of each other and director Graydon Clark and what it was like working on a small budget film. Nutter tells of destroying the shack in the field with the sheer volume of her scream, sure.  My favorite story from Nelson is a David Caruso story involving Palance threatening to punch him when he laughed during a scene, now that I would love to see!


Cinematographer Dean Cundey chimes in for about fifteen minutes about working with Greydon on four previous low budget films (Black Shampoo, Satan's Cheerleaders, Hi-Riders, Angels Brigade) and the ambitious low-budget production of Without Warning.  He warmly recollects working on the film just after finishing Halloween with John Carpenter despite being warned to stay away from exploitation films for the sake of his career and what a great experience it was.


There's also a brief six-minute interview with Special Make-Up Effects Creator Greg Cannom who speaks about creating the low-budget effects for the film while Co-Writer/Co-Producer Daniel Grodnik speaks about his career producing films which includes slasher classic Terror Train and the comedy Star Hops. Extras are buttoned-up with trailers and still gallery plus a reversible sleeve of artwork.    


Special Features: 

-  Audio Commentary with Producer/Director Greydon Clark
-  INDEPENDENTS DAY: Interview with Cinematographer Dean Cundey (15 minutes) 
- PRODUCERS VS ALIENS: Interview with Co-Writer/Co-Producer Daniel Grodnik (11 minutes) 
- HUNTER'S BLOOD: Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Creator Greg Cannom
(6 minutes) 
- GREG AND SANDY'S ALIEN ADVENTURE: Interview with Actors Christopher S. Nelson and Tarah Nutter  (21 minutes) 
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2 minutes)
- Still Gallery (4 minutes) 

- Scream Factory Trailers (5 minutes) 

Verdict: I love it when Scream Factory unearth these cult classics and spiff them up for the fans to enjoy. A few months ago they unearthed The Final Terror to Blu-ray and this is right up their with that one in my opinion - these would make a great double-feature. I love this weird slice of science fiction drive-in cinema with it's cast of oddball characters and low-budget charms, this is a fiendishly good time for cult film fans. It might not be a genuinely scary movie but it's certainly a fun relic of a bygone era with some nice atmosphere and alien creepiness. 

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