Without Warning DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by Dark Sky Films
Written by William Raynor
Directed by Arnold Laven
Adam Williams as Carl Martin
Meg Randall as Jane
Edward Binns as Pete
Carl Martin, gardener by trade, is a quiet guy. You know, the kind who keeps to himself. He prefers blondes to brunettes and redheads. Well, that seems to be his preference, because those are the ones he kills with his shears. The police have a serial killer on their hands and they are tracking down every lead they can to catch the murderer before he kills again. But Carl is a paranoid man, and he’s not going to make it easy for them. Every time the cops get close, Carl slips away, either through dumb luck, quick thinking or by shooting it out with the police. However, it’s only a matter of time before Carl’s luck out. But how many more women have to die before that luck runs dry is the question.
Before I received Without Warning for review, I had never heard of it. Checking IMDB, it doesn’t even have a rating. For a movie more than 50 years old, that’s a little shocking. It’s not shocking because of its age — though that certainly is part of it —it’s shocking because the movie is quite enjoyable.
Adam Williams’ (Helter Skelter – 1976) performance as the unassuming Martin is fantastic. In a critical scene at a dry cleaners, Williams shows his chops by almost losing it due to the scene unfolding in front of him. To say more would spoil the moment, as it is a somewhat pivotal part to the movie. But that scene, like no other, shows Martin’s true, paranoid nature.
An interesting thing about this film is it takes the crime lab into consideration. Lately, with shows like “C.S.I.” and “N.C.I.S.,” the lab is shown to be a pivotal part of any investigation. Granted, this is true, but it seems pre-2000, it wasn’t focused on as much in film. Sure, there was that standby line, “Get this down to the boys at the lab,” but many times, the lab was never shown.
Not the case here.
Not only is the lab shown, the technician has a bit of character and is not a throw-away science dork. In addition, at times it seems there’s a whole lot of nothing going on. Martin does a lot of driving and walking around. The police do a lot of driving around themselves, tracking down leads. Martin does a lot of staring at blondes. Police do a lot of interviewing.
But the beauty of all of this is it doesn’t feel like a lot of nothing. Kudos to the director, Arnold Laven, for managing to keep the film going, even when there’s nothing going on. Laven had a knack for police investigations, because he went on to direct TV episodes of Hill Street Blues, Chips, The Rockford Files and Mannix, among others.
Yet, unfortunately, at times the film dates itself a bit — and becomes unintentionally funny. In one scene, Martin walks up to a woman who is having trouble starting her car — well, not really trouble, she’s faking the car problems so he will come up and talk to her.
“Is something wrong?” He asks her.
“Not anymore.” She replies — all sultry like. “Come and take a look.”
“Do you often have this type of trouble…” he pauses here, then continues, “…with your car?”
“No,” she says — at this point getting me hot, “this hasn’t happened for a long time.”
And you just know she's a tramp because she is not only driving a vehicle (by herself!), she went to a bar (by herself!) and was smoking, too! Whore.
Oh yeah, baby. Cue up that bow-chicka-bow-bow bass. This scene alone is worth the purchase.
However, even with a few funny-but-not-supposed-to-be scenes, the movie still manages to hold your attention to the climax.
Warning’s 4:3 OAR looks absolutely fantastic. For a 5-decade-old film — one that is seemingly unknown — it was surprising to see very little grain and softness.
The mono track is clear—voices are easily heard, there are no distortions and I didn’t have to keep the remote handy for highs and lows.
Nothing but a photo gallery on this DVD, but it’s okay. The fact that a photo gallery is even on it is impressive.
Movie – B-
Audio – B
Video – A
Special Features – C
Overall – B – A definite rental, a potential purchase.
Without Warning is one of those movies that you throw in without expectation and it manages to be memorable. A $14.98 MSRP generally means a $9.99 - $11.99 price tag. If you are into noir, this is a good purchase.
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