Without Warning

Wicked Wednesday: Without Warning (1980)

The Warning is one of those movies that goes by a seemingly endless list of names: The Warning, It Came Without Warning, Without Warning. All changed for what I’m sure are very good reasons.

Either way there’s one thing clear from all the titles: there’s something about a warning that may or may not have happened.

This is a fairly standard slasher from the era. A man and his son are out in the woods when they’re attacked by these flying-saucer-esq frisbee aliens. Later, a scout leader is also attacked by the toothed pancakes when out with his boy scout troops.

Meanwhile, a pair of young couples pack up for a trip to the late. On the way they stop for gas where they meet the Harbinger of Doom. He warns them away from the lake, telling them that there had been accidents there lately.

The kids are kids, though, and mostly ignore him. Sandy, though, becomes unsettled by the man. She doesn’t particularly like his hunting trophies to boot. And she certainly tells him that: she’d never kill a living thing.

But despite Sandy’s hesitation, the gang head to the lake for fun and sun. Sandy and Greg head off when their friends begin to get a bit too cozy. When their friends go missing, Sandy and Greg begin looking for them.

They stumble across a shack owned by the water department. When they look inside, they discover the corpses of the men and their friends.

Sandy and Greg flee from the shack and get to the van. They’re attacked by the pancake aliens, but manage to escape using windshield wipers (brilliant).

They seek help at a bar where they meet a cast of colourful characters. Among them in Sarge, a war veteran who has seen the aliens as well.

Sandy and Greg tell the bar patrons that they’ve seen the aliens. No one really seems bothered until they learn about the bodies in the shack. The bar woman calls the sheriff, but when he arrives Sarge shoots him, believing him to be an alien.

The gas station owner, Joe, decides to take the kids away and back to the shack to see the bodies. Joe is attacked by a blood-drinking frisbee but manages not to survive the attack by cutting it off.

The couple are separated from Joe and are seemingly ‘saved’ when they see a squad car. But when they get into the car, they realise it’s driven by crazy Sarge. They learn that Sarge believes them to be the aliens in a human skin outfit.

Greg plays up to the idea and pretends to be an alien. When Sarge is wound up, Greg takes the older man out and he’s able to escape with Sandy.

Later, Sandy and Greg find an empty house in the woods. They clean up and rest there for part of the night. Strange occurrences happen that unsettle Sandy more, so Greg agrees to watch over things while she sleeps.

When she wakes up, though, finds finds a frisbee sucking on Greg’s face! (I do love horror movies…) She flees the house and stumbles upon Joe again, who convinces her to go back to the shack with him. As a hunter, he believes he can lure the alien to where the food is.

Shortly after arriving at the shack, Sarge appears again to come to blows with Joe. During their scuffle, the group see a tall alien approaching the shack. Sarge is killed off, leaving just Joe and Sandy left.

Joe sacrifices himself by luring the alien to the shack where he’s left dynamite. And despite her declarations to never kill anything, Sandy blows up the shack, Joe and alien to save the planet.

This is a strange little movie. It’s delightfully low budget. All the usual tropes are here: the final girl, the harbinger of doom, the first couple to have sex die. It’s all pretty by-the-book. But appearances by Jack Palance and Martin Landau help elevate it to a more memorable status. That and the excellently of-its-time alien work.

While not covering the same baddies, The Warning reminded me of the Bill Rebane film Blood Harvest. Both try to have a commentary of the PTSD of soldiers back from Vietnam. I’m not quite sure if either was successful, but it’s a unique perspective from the era.