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Dustin Putman

Dustin's Blu-ray Review
Without Warning  (1980)
Reviewed by Dustin Putman

The Film
2.5 Stars
(Release Date: August 5, 2014) – Greydon Clark's goopy 1980 alien horror flick "Without Warning" has had a troubled distribution history, one that led to the film's unavailability on commercial home video until Scream Factory's blessed 2014 Blu-ray release. The picture, shot for a meager $150,000 (half of which allegedly went to the salaries of Martin Landau and Jack Palance), is rough around the edges and intermittently lags in the pacing department, but holds a savvy, mood-showered ingenuity all the same. The premise, which sees four college-aged kids—lovers Tom (David Caruso) and Beth (Lynn Theel), and blind-date setups Greg (Christopher S. Nelson) and Sandy (Tarah Nutter)—taking a would-be harmless trip to the countryside at the same moment a deadly parasite-throwing extraterrestrial appears to rack up a slew of victims, is slim and straightforward. As the picture transforms into a cat-and-mouse game, however, Clark and cinematographer Dean Cundey (at the time coming off of 1978's "Halloween") milk the proceedings with taut suspense and shadowy suggestion. It isn't until the third act that the head alien is seen in full, but the reveal is worth the wait.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

Perhaps because the film has barely been touched since its 1980 theatrical release, "Without Warning" boasts an amazingly clean 1080p transfer. As a (very) low-budget title from thirty-plus years ago, one cannot expect it to match up to a brand-new blockbuster, but what it does do impressively is surpass the seeming limitations of its technical specs and source material. Dirt and debris are minimal, sporadic background pulsations to the image are subtle and unobtrusive, and everything else is close to outstanding in its dimensional, detailed resolve. With its grain field evenly dispersed and nicely textured, there is an attractively natural filmic quality throughout that viewers (and particularly fans of the movie) will undoubtedly take to. The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track is very good as well, particularly when it comes to composer Dan Wyman's stirring music score. Sound effects are displayed well, too, even when some of them verge on over-the-top. Dialogue is intelligible and effectively modulated.

Blu-ray Features
  • Audio Commentary with producer/director Greydon Clark
  • "Greg and Sandy's Alien Adventures" (20:45, HD) – featuring interviews with actors Christopher S. Nelson and Tarah Nutter
  • "Producers vs. Aliens" (11:25, HD) – an interview with co-producer/co-writer Daniel Grodnik
  • "Hunter's Blood" (5:56, HD) – an interview with special make-up effects artist Greg Cannom
  • "Independents Day" (15:09, HD) – an interview with cinematographer Dean Cundey
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:42, HD)
  • Still Gallery (3:53, HD)
Bottom Line
"Without Warning" is one of the year's most exciting high-def releases thus far—not because it is an unadulterated masterpiece of the sci-fi/horror genre, but because it is a modest, well-made little gem of its time that, until now, has never received a proper home video release. It is a testament to the picture's success, then, that audiences from 1983 still remember the film. Now, thanks to the folks at Scream Factory, they—and new generations—will be able to see why it has obtained a passionate cult status over the years. Looking great and jam-packed with quality bonus content, the Blu-ray of "Without Warning" is something of a dream. Highly recommended.

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© 2014 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman