Sunday, August 3, 2014

REVIEW: Without Warning (Scream Factory Blu-ray/DVD) - It Feeds on Horror Fan Anticipation

Do you like flying discs that emit tentacles that drill into your body? How about a giant alien being with an unknown agenda with pockets full of those flying disc thingies (the ones with the tentacles the bleed yellow)? You hear about a movie like Without Warning in passing. I could count only a few friends who had seen it before, but all of them recommended it for the right reasons. It's a Science Fiction/Horror film with effects that have a delightfully colorful palette (think Street Trash lite) featuring some cool creature design and a cast of three exceptional actors performing well even in this fast-paced production that wasn't necessarily given a great chance to survive. And yet it has survived and emerges this Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD finally. We can stop holding our breath now... it's here. There's a certain level of sustained excitement surrounding this particular release, and after having the chance to enjoy it myself, I can say that the hype is well deserved, the horror fans have something to be excited about and this is one damn fine movie.  A friend of mine had been looking for this one on VHS for quite awhile. Trying to find a copy to no avail. The wait is over. This may be a movie from 1980, but I think you can call it a new classic given it's lack of availability.  Scream Factory picked a good one. Let me tell you why.

Synopsis from Scream Factory:

A group of teenagers head out to the lake for a relaxing camping trip in the mountains. They ignore the warnings of the local truck stop owner and head to their destination. Things go terribly wrong when they run into an extraterrestrial who throws deadly discs that suck the blood of their victims. The group heads back to the truck stop for help from the eclectic group of residents – a crazy war veteran (Martin Landau, Ed Wood) and a determined hunter (Jack Palance, Batman).

Jack Palance, Martin Landau and Cameron Mitchell walk into a bar... stop me if you've heard this one. Well to be fair Mitchell doesn't share the screen with Landau and Palance, but the talent in this movie combined with Dean Cundey's early cinematography is a treasure. Sure the production is fairly low budget, but man do they make due with what they were given especially with the exceptionally short shooting schedule. Good actors can make good movies great. Creative effects work that may not cost a whole lot (and perhaps it shows) can make a movie entertaining. From the get go this movie may be all over the place jumping from scene to scene (almost without warning), but the constants throughout the picture are the caliber of performance that we can enjoy from respected veterans, somewhat campy performances from newbies who play the perfect victims and Greg Cannom's creativity with the gooey effects. This is recipe makes an entertaining movie. Sure this isn't the most intellectual or groundbreaking of Science Fiction, but sometimes we just want to see the humans fight the aliens. 

Perhaps the most interesting observation to note is the strong connection between director Greydon Clark and Dean Cundey. These two fellas seem to be linked in their early inextricably. From Black Shampoo, Hi-Riders to Satan's Cheerleaders, these two men worked hand in hand as director and DOP respectively. This is the kind of experience that helped Cundey cut his teeth as he worked on Halloween among other Carpenter classics. Other interviews on the disc include Daniel Grodnik (the co-writer/co-producer) and special make-up effects creator Greg Cannom as well as Actor Chris Nelson. The interview with Cannom is a must watch for this effects-centric flick. Find out how Rick Baker got involved and the price tag associated with it. 

Scream Factory has given the fans a chance to see a highly sought after but rarely enjoyed, pure 80's Sci-Fi/Horror romp with the perfect balance of creature creation, cult classic favorites and an effective creep-out score. For a movie that seemed nearly impossible to get onto Blu-ray, it comes with complete fan support and a well equipped extra filled package, preserving classic art on the cover and reverse. This is the kind of release that we are hungry for; something we don't get to see every day and haven't seen released on DVD on the last few years. This makes us yearn for movies like The Mutilator to get the HD treatment. It's a juicy release for a freaky movie. Have fun with it. Show it to your friends. Keep the cult of Without Warning alive. Feed it to your human friends.

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