Without Warning

Leo: "Sarge, this guy here says he's seen some of your flying saucers."
Sarge: "You've seen those flying critters. Feisty little things, aren't they?"
Greg: "Yeah, they attacked our van."

release year: 1980
genre: horror/science fiction
viewing setting: home Bluray 12/6/17 (and also over three decades ago, sometime in the very early 80s)

synopsis: An evil-looking alien uses flying, flesh-eating starfish to kill people in a remote town.

impressions: Sometimes, you can sum up a movie with a single, preposterous sentence. And I did just that, above in the "synopsis" section. The alien lurked in the shadows (and burned up screen time with first-person perspective of stalking through the woods) a lot in the early part of the movie, then later its fingers were seen, and eventually the whole alien. But what did it want? Why was it killing people? Sadly, we will never know. What we do know is that the alien hurls these small discs, which are actually alive and sink their teeth into you when they hit you. They also extrude little tentacles that burrow in and cause blood and pus to squirt out of the wounds. Think of starfish, except carnivorous. And flying. One thing I didn't understand was how just one of these could bring down one guy, but a different guy was able to cut one and rip one off of his body - twice! - and keep on going. Then again, that different guy was Jack Palance, who was a certified badass. Other things of note: stupid characters (the guy leaves the girl in the van when heading into a restaurant after successfully fleeing the alien, the girl sees the alien coming later and runs away from the van but not into the restaurant, instead running into the woods...where fortunately for her Jack Palance was wandering around looking crazy, but at least he carried her back to the restaurant and safety.) You know, pretty much this whole movie was senseless.

acting: Jack Palance was the kind of crazy, but competent, old...hunter? What the hell was he anyway? Martin Landau (who commanded Moonbase Alpha in Space: 1999 and was a member of TV's Mission: Impossible team) was an actual crazy old veteran. I mean really crazy...he was so out of it that he shot some random dude for no reason, and later thought the aliens had possessed people. There was another notable actor here: Neville Brand, who I've talked about elsewhere and who was the 4th-most-decorated American G.I. in World War 2, played a weird-looking bar patron who was dubious about the kids' story of an alien. Honestly, I probably would have been dubious too, in that situation. A very young David Caruso was one of the ill-fated teenagers. And guess what? Kevin Peter Hall, who later played the title character in Predator which was a much better telling of this story, played the tall, bulbous-headed blue-skinned alien here.

final word: Interesting concept, but done better in an urban environment in 1990's I Come In Peace.

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