(It Came) Without Warning (1980)
“Stay away from the Lake!”
A very common line in horror films when a group of teens are about to set off for a weekend of drinking and sex. But when Jack Palance issues the warning through clenched teeth it takes on a whole new meaning.
When it comes to campy fun this film has to rank very high on the list. It seems that an alien creature is roaming the woods near a town where everyone is an aging film star slumming in a cheap horror film. You’ve got to give low budget specialist Greydon Clark credit for getting name actors to appear in a good many of his productions.
Cameron Mitchell starts the film with his outcast son on a hunting trip that gets a little gooey when flying rubber like fried eggs land on the skin and dig right in to the flesh. Larry Storch hamming it up as a scout leader doesn’t fair much better either.
When our four teens pass on the warning of Jack they have basically sealed there fate. One of the four is a very young David Caruso who before long will be wishing he’d have listened to our star of the week.
Joining Jack for this campy ride besides Mitchell and Storch is Neville Brand, Martin Landau in another wonderful ham job, Ralph Meeker and Sue Ann Langdon.
When two of our teens flee the carnage they run into Palance who takes control of the situation. That doesn’t stop Landau from going over the edge of sanity as he is convinced the teens are agents of evil.
Jack goes campy Rambo in this one and when hit by the flying rubber eggs just cuts them off. No worries about a tetanus shot here. It’s actually Landau who is having the military flashbacks causing him to leave his sanity at the door as the final clash between our two main leads and the alien creature comes to a head. Anyone willing to bet against Jack on this fight to the death?
The alien under the huge head is played by Kevin Peter Hall who also appeared as the Predator and as Harry opposite the Hendersons.
Both Neville Brand and Jack Palance had a long history in film by the time of this production. They had actually costarred together in a 1950 war film titled The Halls of Montezuma as well as The Lonely Man in 1957. Add in another appearance together in 1969’s The Desperadoes. By 1980 Brand was nearing the end of his run and Jack was a decade away from his rebirth opposite Billy Crystal.
Landau in this and Alone in the Dark with Palance once again is quite a bit of fun as he goes about playing a couple of insane characters. While not Oscar worthy they are definitely worth watching for the sheer enjoyment of his slicing the ham pretty thick.
Director Clark worked exclusively in low budget cinema with titles like The Return featuring Landau and Angel’s Brigade which had Palance and Brand in that cast as well. And let’s not forget the embarrassment of Satan’s Cheerleaders with John Ireland, Yvonne DeCarlo and who else but John Carradine.
As for this popular title on the cult circuit it was sadly the final film of Ralph Meeker’s and while he is in the film, he really doesn’t do much in the bar scene featuring Brand and Langdon.
After years of bootleg editions, Jack Palance and his cronies can finally be enjoyed on blu ray in a top notch release from Scream Factory that came out this year.
And yes, the original one sheet is in the collection.