Without Warning: Death By Starfish!
by: Dr. Boogie


Without Warning (1980)

Instead of driving home, they stop at a remote bar to get some help burying their dead friends. Or getting the cops to do something. I don't know what the thinking is when you've narrowly avoided a monster attack in blackest night and your first instinct is to stop at some dive bar and tell the regulars about how aliens killed your friends. Naturally, the barflies want a little more details from the scared kid ranting about dead bodies before they act.

Meanwhile, Sandy is waiting in the car, safe and sound behind the locked doors. Until she sees something scary outside the car and decides to flee into the woods. Wouldn't you? No you wouldn't because you're not an idiot, and you would have noticed that after brushing the creature off the windshield, there was not a scratch on it despite the creature allegedly trying to eat its way through.

Lucky for her, she runs into old Gas Station Joe just wandering around the woods at night, and instead of making her into a skin coat, he escorts her back to the bar.

Without Warning (1980)

Greg's poor attempts at describing the creatures aren't making him any friends at the bar. At least not until Sarge pipes up. He sits Greg down and they swap flying critter stories. The others dump on Sarge, but as he repeatedly notes, he warned them. Yes, there is an awfut lot of warning going on. The barkeep even subtly tries to warn Greg that Sarge's PTSD sometimes gets the better at him. Like when he adopts a thousand yard stare and quotes that warning on the men's room wall. Not the one about being in the stall with the hole in the side at 4pm on Fridays. The one about there being, "No chance, no help, no escape."

Things get a little tense when Greg decides to bring Sandy in on this and they find no sign of her. Sarge reveals his knowledge of their plans, as well as the revolver he keeps in his jacket. Now Greg is starting to think he's picked a bad ally.

Without Warning (1980)

Speaking of bad allies, Joe shows up holding an unconscious Sandy in his arms. Nothing suspicious about that. She recovers and describes a much larger creature than the toothy fliers that attacked their van. Joe asks her if they found the shed where it keeps the bodies. Nothing suspicious about that!!

Right about then, the power goes out. Sarge expounds about how crazy his is as everyone else tries to calm him down. The barkeep even asks him why, if the aliens are real, the CIA/Army/Coast Guard/Guardian Angels aren't doing anything about it. His response is simple:

Without Warning (1980)
"Because they never knew nothing... about nothing."

Then he starts talking about how the aliens can take human form and you really have to wonder how all these people who have apparently known Sarge for a while are still comfortable with him having a gun.

Suddenly, the creature bursts through the door and Sarge guns him down!

Without Warning (1980)

Only it's not the alien. It's the sheriff they called. Sarge claims that something came over him, caused him to immediately shoot the first moving thing he saw whereas he would normally be much more reserved when it comes to waving his gun around ranting about killer aliens.

In the middle of Sarge's apologies, he gets the idea that Greg is responsible for him shooting the sheriff. Joe winds up being the one to wrestle the gun away from Sarge. I guess hindsight is 20/20.

Without Warning (1980)

Outside, Joe spots one of the fliers stuck to a pole. He pops it off with his knife and pockets it while Greg and Sandy look on. You can almost hear the wheels turning in Greg's head when Joe points the knife at him and orders the two of them to take him to the water department's corpse shack. They object, but Joe tells them the creature will kill again while they wait for backup from the police. Greg sees Joe's point. And by "point," I mean the point of the knife that Joe is pointing at Greg's face. They hop into Joe's truck and head out toward certain doom.

Without Warning (1980)

Before heading out to hunter a killer alien in total darkness, they stop by Joe's gas shack to get a light. And also deposit that flier that Joe grabbed in a big jar. Joe actually looks around to make sure the other two don't see him doing this, as though they didn't see him stuff the damn thing in his jacket back at the bar. No, wouldn't want to seem crazy or anything like that.

Once he's fully strapped, Joe reveals a massive scar on his arm from an earlier attack by the creature. Not wanting to seem as crazy as Sarge, he kept it a secret and has instead been keeping aliens in jars and holding people at knifepoint.

You might think that this plan will simply peter out as Greg surely doesn't remember the way back to a shack he's only been to once before and fled from in pure animal terror, and certainly not at night. That's the beauty of bad screenwriting: nothing has to make sense!

Without Warning (1980)

Joe checks out the shed himself and sees all the bodies in the same state that Greg and Sandy left them. Rather than being freaked out, he explains that they have the alien right where they want him. The bodies, you see, are the alien's food supply. That's why they all look partially digested, except for Beth and her carefully-framed boobs. Now, all they have to do is wait for the alien to get there and then... profit?

They don't have to wait long.

Without Warning (1980)

Joe's claim that they have the alien right where they want him is slightly undercut when he is hit in the leg by one of the fliers. Now the carefully laid plan is sundered, and our two heroes run off. I'd suggest that they're in some trouble, being that they are in unfamiliar territory and are scared out of their minds, but they have one big advantage:

Without Warning (1980)

Those fliers can't hit anything that's moving. One hits a tree, while another sails off into the darkness. If only Joe had done a little serpentine!

To his credit, Joe manages to dig the creature out of his leg. This sequence is accompanied by the sound of plunging a toilet recorded on an old 8-track and played backwards. So glad I didn't miss a second of that wonderful noise, nor the uncut sequence of him bandaging himself and skulking off into the woods alone.

Without Warning (1980)

Greg and Sandy, while unable to locate Joe's truck, were able to find their way back to the road. Their luck continues when they're able to flag down a cop car traveling down this largely unpopulated stretch. And there certainly doesn't seem to be anything purposeful about how they get into the back of the cop car and start talking, all without actually seeing who's driving the car.

Without Warning (1980)

In a scene not deemed important enough to show the audience, Sarge overpowered everyone at the bar, got back his gun, stole the wounded sheriff's car keys, and stole his cop car to go looking for the alien. I have to assume that's what happened as no explanation is offered. Well, why start thinking about things now?

Sarge is now convinced that the aliens have taken over Greg and Sandy. He takes them to an isolated spot and interrogates them for details on the invasion plan. Greg plays along for a bit before shoving Sarge over and running off with Sandy. The two of them hide out until Sarge leaves. Then they get back onto the road to flag down more cars. Guess who they flag down first?

That's right: the same lunatic driving a cop car that they ditched not even five minutes ago. Sarge pursues them onto a bridge where they jump into the water to escape him. When they later emerge and flee, I was truly surprised that they didn't head right back to the road to get caught again. And maybe they should have. What are the odds that it happens a third time?

Hell, I kind of wish there was a director's cut of the movie where they just keep encountering the Sarge, running off, and coming right back to where they ditched him only to find he's still there.

There's still plenty more of Without Warning to see!
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