Saturday, June 19, 2010
WITHOUT WARNING (1980) - if you had to travel light years to get to some lame planet filled with schmucks, you'd be cranky too
Cameron Mitchell and son take a Winnebago out to the woods, looking to bond, smoke cigars, and shoot living creatures with a shotgun. This is how real men went about their business, before political correctness tuned everything girly. The son notices some industrial waste in the river, a quick witted comment on the unfortunate consequences of men of industry who are stuck in their ways. Regardless, a couple of flying starfishes murder both father and son. I knew they were going to die, but I wasn’t quite expecting that.
Some time later, David Caruso (in his “sexpot” days, wearing short shorts and baring his chest) goes on a camping trip with his girlfriend and another couple. They arrive at one of those backward ass redneck gas stations (they usually have one of those names like "Joe Billy Stuckey's Gas, farming equipment, and live nude eatery"). One of the girls heads into the men's bathroom, and is startled by local crazy Martin Landau, and also notices some graffiti on a stall saying "no chance, no help, no escape" (crazy soothsayers also like to write messages on walls and such). They all head into the station, which is filled with cobwebs, baby rats, and stuffed animal heads (pilfered from Psycho), and, oh yeah…Jack fucking Palance. He warns them not to go to the lake, and one of the girls voices an objection to his hunting ways. He gives her a look, as if to say “I’m Jack Palance…I kill who I want, when I want...now bake me a pie”.
Next, we get some asshole boy scouts singing "99 bottles of beer". I used to annoy people with this song as a child, but I would start it off at 999 dectillion. I consider it the definitive performance. So, the ranger tells the group that Indians used to live in the area, and his compass goes haywire, which is something often reported during UFO related phenomena (just saying). The scoutmaster happens upon the abandoned Winnebago, tries to light a cigarette with a rock, and rightfully ends up starfish food.
Our "teens" take a dip in the lake. The natural surroundings seems to be an aphrodisiac, and Caruso immediately gets a tongue shoved down his throat, so the other couple decides to go for walk so that they won't be hit by any wayward saliva. They find that their radio doesn’t work (another staple of actual UFO encounters), and head back to the site, but Caruso and girlfriend are nowhere to be found. The two decide to follow a path through the woods to track them down, but the girl falls in a hole (maybe a trap set by Palance), but no problemo, her boyfriend saves her. They happen upon a shack, and finally find Caruso and girlfriend inside, along with three others, and it looks like they may be safe, having a party…oh no, they’re dead. Oh well.
They run back to the van, but a couple of those starfishes attack the vehicle. They finally get moving, speeding down the road with those things still attached. Our hero brilliantly moves into action, using his windshield wipers to destroy the enemy. They find a bar and the guy rushes in, and Neville Brand and town crazy Landau are hanging around, and the lady from UHF is tending bar. He explains the situation, but unfortunately, town crazy Landau told a similar story, so they are considered nuts by association. The girlfriend, who stayed in the van, is startled by what appears to be an alien, so she runs into the woods. She bumps into Palance and faints (he has that kind of effect on the ladies), and he brings her back to the bar. They call the police, but the power suddenly goes out, and they all argue about how crazy Landau is.
Unfortunately, Landau proves even crazier than they thought, immediately shooting the cop when he shows up. Apparently, he mistook captain oinker for a space alien (well, it was pretty dark). This sets up the final showdown mostly revolving around Palance and the actual alien, as Jack is a real man of action (like Cameron Mitchell), and he can throw together a MacGyver-esque trap that is capable of stumping higher forms of intelligence.
Curiously, the alien is never explained much, like what planet it hails from, or what it's motive is. Similarly to Predator, which may have been inspired by Without Warning (the same actor plays both aliens), this invader from outer space seems to be some asshole that hunts humans for fun, just as Palance hunted whatever it is he hunted (maybe bears, or possibly college students). Instead of a gun, it uses flying starfish things, but the results are the same. I think the moral of the story Is obvious; humans think they’re superior to other animals and eat them accordingly. Maybe if man felt what it’s like to be hunted, they’d have empathy for those lower down on the food chain.