The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

JUST BEFORE DAWN (1981) ** ½

Chris Lemmon, Gregg Henry, and some uptight babes go into the woods, even though George Kennedy tells them not to. Naturally, there’s a slovenly redneck killer out there with a really sharp machete who’s just itching to carve them up. Moral of the story: Always listen to George Kennedy. The man knows what he’s talking about.

Directed by Jeff (Squirm) Lieberman, Just Before Dawn drags like a sumbitch in some parts. But just when you think the flick is headed straight to Dullsville, Lieberman delivers (like the final scene). So if you’re patient, you’ll be rewarded.

There are a couple of good moments here. I liked the part where the hot babe goes skinnydipping and thinks her boyfriend is messing around with her under the water, but it turns out to be the killer. There's some other good stuff too, but I don't want to spoil it for you. And the gratuitous scenes of white people dancing badly are pretty funny.

Just Before Dawn also contains one particularly gnarly death scene. The pasty faced killer (who laughs like Muttley from Wacky Races) sneaks up on a hunter and rams a machete through his crotch and it comes out of his ass. This kill happens right out of the gate (less than ten minutes into the movie) and it’s easily the best one in the whole movie. Sadly, the rest of the death scenes are unimaginative and pale in comparison. There’s also a dumb scene where a chick tries to elude the machete wielding killer by climbing a fucking tree. Then she acts all surprised when he chops the fucker down.

Overall, the bulk of Just Before Dawn is ho-hum, but it has some truly memorable moments to help elevate it from the usual fare. Plus, the music by Brad (The Terminator) Fiedel is suitably creepy. Also, I’m a big Gregg Henry fan, so it was cool seeing him this early in his career.

Tags: horror, j

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