Without Warning begins with B-movie stalwart Cameron Mitchell goading his blonde, porn-‘stached son to get up and out of the caravan for the day’s hunt (“I’ve been up for an hour lately, hubba, hubba!”). As CM and his “sissy” son track down whatever big game it is that they’re after, they’re attacked without warning (we went there) by spinning disks of flesh (with very visible strings attached) that attach themselves to their skin and insert proboscises into them.
In the next scene, two girls and a couple of guys are gearing up for a day at the lake. One of the dudes is played by David Caruso, later of NYPD Blue and CSI: Miami fame. In this one, he’s wearing an exceedingly short pair of blue Adidas shorts, and the juxtaposition of his brightly colored britches with his pasty ginger thighs is quite jarring to the retinas.
Caruso doesn’t stick around for very long, however, as once they get to the lake, him and his girlfriend are soon attacked by the same otherworldy creatures, as is a hapless Cub Scout leader. The creatures, which resemble giant flesh-raviolis with tentacles and teeth, are quite effective looking once they stop spinning.
The remaining two teens, Sandy and Greg, find a saloon and seek help. Of course, no one believes them save Fred (Martin Landau), but nobody believes him as he’s a shellshocked nutter who still thinks he’s fighting in whichever war it was that he fought in. Fred, or Sarge as he’s more commonly referred to, slips from periods of semi-lucidity to flashbacks where he acts like a way-less intimidating R. Lee Ermey.
Their other ally is Joe Taylor, played with customary grit by Jack Palance. Taylor knows there are “critters” out there but is reticent to let on in the bar for fear of being mocked like poor Sarge. Taylor and the kids head out to try and stop the menace.
Eventually, the trio takes refuge in a cabin where they are attacked by a green, giant-headed alien who throws the flesh-raviolis as if they were Ninja stars. The man in the alien suit is the late Kevin Peter Hall, a 7’4” actor who went on to play both the original Predator and Harry in Harry and the Hendersons.
Without Warning gets a mild recommendation. After a crackerjack opening, it settles into a somewhat slow second act before recovering for a dynamite final third. It’s also a treat to see future Oscar-winners Palance and Landau.
It’s certainly not the best creature feature, but it’s also far from the worst. What it is is a mildly entertaining throwback to the films of the drive-in heyday, and for that it earns
** 1/2 (out of five)