Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Halloween Heroes: Just Before Dawn

In the early 80's the slasher market became oversaturated, and as a result it was an inevitability that now and then a good one would slip through the cracks...."Just Before Dawn" is a Jeff Liebermann film that somehow managed to make a giant northwest forest seem claustrophobic. This was helped by a strong synth score by Brad Fiedel, who would go on to do the "Terminator" films.

Virtually no one saw the film upon release in 1981, and it didn't see a DVD release until Shriek Show put it out in 2005. The cast features a young Gregg Henry who many will recognize from "Payback" and "Slither". In the latter, he was comic genius as the obnoxious mayor of the town suffering from slug and splatter circumstances.

A typical splatter movie set up, young party-harders head off to forested land, in this case an inheritance for Henry's character, despite the warnings of the "old man with the scary story", this time none other than George Kennedy. Chris Lemmon provides some comic relief...there's nudity (of course), but what may be the weirdest stalker in slasher history, and a strange family living on Henry's land.

Beautiful cinematography, great locale selection, and some serious tension help this one in locking itself a position in the "better than most of the genre/era" category....a little tough to locate (internet may be your best option) but damn-well worth it. If you're looking for a "stalking madman" movie that actually provides some real atmosphere and tight moments, this is a good suggestion.

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