A nostalgic look back: WITHOUT WARNING in 1994 scared some… and disappointed others





Without Warning is an American CBS TV movie, directed by Robert Iscove, featuring veteran news anchor Sander Vanocur and reporter Bree Walker as themselves covering a breaking news story of three meteor fragments crashing into the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere.

The film, which premiered on Halloween night, October 31, 1994, is presented as if it were an actual breaking news event, complete with remote reports from reporters. The executive producer was David L. Wolper, who produced a number of mockumentary-style films from the 1960s onward.

When WITHOUT WARNING aired, it was 56 years after Orson Welles’ famous WAR OF THE WORLDS tricked radio audiences across America that aliens were landing on the planet earth..

While the WITHOUT WARNING show was not critically acclaimed–actually was critically eviscerated by reviewers at the time–it seemingly wanted to do exactly the same thing that WAR OF THE WORLDS did: Trick some people into thinking the story was true..

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While most of the reviewed panned the film, there were a few reports at the time that people bought it.. EVEN WITH the commercials saying what you were viewing was fake and just a hokey replay of the Welles’ classic..

The way that CBS delivered WITHOUT WARNING was less a way to scare people on Halloween night but more a homage with constant warnings “don’t believe anything you’re seeing” being presented to viewers.

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TV guides that appeared in newspapers across America on October 31, 1994, proclaimed ‘Don’t worry, it’s not a real emergency!’

The AP actually reported that CBS was flooded with calls..some from viewers scared of the movie that aliens had taken over asteroids and were pummeling the planet in a massive invasion… However many others were angry over how much they didn’t like it!

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A spokesman for CBS admitted that people in 94 were more sophisticated than they were in the 30s..

Nashville had 400 calls asking if the film was real..
Minneapolis had about 100 “in tears.”
CBS in New York led its 11 hour that night with news that an asteroid did NOT strike Earth..

Eric Mink at the time said that the film ‘reeked of cheesy, rushed, under-funded production”.. he said that former news personalities playing themselves was a “hilarious failure.”

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And now 25 years later.. judge for yourself.. This is the special that aired on CBS on October 31, 1994 — the night I actually ended trick or treat early just to be nestled into pajamas in time to see the film.. Enjoy.. or not enjoy. Aliens never landed. Asteroids never struck. But there’s always tomorrow.

🙂

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