Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just Before Dawn (1981)

Director: Jeff Lieberman

Starring: George Kennedy, Mike Kellin, Chris Lemmon, Gregg Henry, Deborah Benson, Ralph Seymour, Katie Powell, John Hunsaker

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The nightmare has begun --

Plot: Five campers arrive in the mountains to examine some property they have bought, but are warned by the forest ranger Roy McLean that a huge machete-wielding maniac has been terrorising the area. Ignoring the warnings, they set up camp, and start disappearing one by one. If that sounds too run-of-the-mill, there's a genuinely shocking plot twist half-way through...

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

#237 on Drive-In Delirium Volume 1 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

I loves me some backwoods horror and got more than a little excited when I sat down for this one. It's a beautifully shot film. The Oregon locations are gorgeous. The cast does a fine job and the group of 5 campers act more like real people than a lot of horror pictures like this. George Kennedy isn't in it much but when he is, he gives a grounded, weighted performance that only enhances the movie. I would have liked to have seen him go on a manhunt for 20 minutes, picking off the hillbilly murderers. THAT would have been cool. What they did instead was fine I guess but it left me wanting something a little better.

There are some really nice moments like the one above when the killer slowly appears from beneath a waterfall coming toward a couple playing in the water. That was nice. There wasn't a loud noise or sudden music swell to 'frighten' the audience or tell you to look over there. It just happens, giving the audience some fucking credit. Unless you're blind you'll see it and it's very effective. That's good direction and storytelling. Unfortunately the movie has moments of drag. The kills are nice but the overall pacing could've been tightened up and something more exciting with the ending would've made this a much better picture. It's a good start but it needed a bit more to push this into classic slasher territory. Still, it's certainly worth a look.

No comments:

Post a Comment