An alien being comes to earth to hunt human prey. No, it’s not PREDATOR; it’s Greydon Clark’s 1980 outing, IT CAME WITHOUT WARNING aka WITHOUT WARNING. The film tells the story of a group of teenagers, including a very young David Caruso, being hunted by an extraterrestrial being that kills it’s prey by tossing flying alien discs that sucks the blood of the victims. The kid’s only hope of survival is a determined hunter portrayed by Jack Palance.
IT CAME WITHOUT WARNING starts off running with some quick kills and some bare-bones exposition. The flying saucers that the alien uses to dispatch his victims are appropriately gooey and gross thanks to special effects creator (and Rick Baker protégé) Greg Cannom. The film moves along at a brisk pace during the first act with some good death scenes, but the second act meanders quite a bit and leaves the viewer restless. The alien and his deadly discs are scarce for the middle half and instead we’re treated to Palance and Martin Landau (as a crazed Vietnam veteran) chewing scenery, which is enjoyable in its own right at times. For the final reel, we get the reveal of the alien in all of its Rick Baker-designed glory (and portrayed by future PREDATOR Kevin Peter Hall) as he faces off against the survivors of the alien’s night of terror.
IT CAME WITHOUT WARNING is an interesting watch as it seems to be a film that doesn’t know what it wants to be. The plot reads like a ‘60s alien invasion film, and the deep woods setting makes it feel like a ‘80s slasher film. In its favor, the film is never mean-spirited and doesn’t rely on bare breasts and an overabundance of gore for cheap thrills like a lot of the trash that was coming out around the time. It should be said that visually the film looks fantastic, thanks in no small part to cinematographer Dean Cundy who was fresh off of HALLOWEEN at the time. The practical special effects are wonderful to watch and despite a slow middle, hearing Jack Palance scream “ALIEN!” during the final confrontation worth the being make this movie worth a look.
Shout! Factory is known for putting together some fantastic packages for films that time otherwise may have forgotten and IT CAME WITHOUT WARNING is no different. The disc features an interview with Dean Cundy that is worth a watch as well as Greg Cannom. The interview with producer/writer Daniel Grodnik is especially entertaining as it really delves into how movies like this got made back in the late 70’s. Also included is audio commentary by Greydon Clark which, while sparse at times, would be an enjoyable listen particularly for any up and coming low-budget horror filmmaker.
IT CAME WITHOUT WARNING is an enjoyable piece of exploitation trash well worth watching, but only worth buying for the true enthusiast.
– Mike Vanderbilt