Tuesday, August 23, 2016

80s Slasher: Just Before Dawn

Heya gang! Well the week is upon us and that bloody audio review took far too long to record yesterday so today is going to be the starting point, the crux of the week's theme if you will. I thought I would gander at some obscure 80s slasher films. So yes, 80s Slasher is what we are going with. Not the stereotypical brands of Halloween, Friday the 13th or even A Nightmare on Elm Street as they are deemed by many as hollow attempts to cash in on the original source material. Nope we are simply tackling relatively unknown actors in a low budget collective of psychological thrills, chills and spills.
Today's contrived concept is a group of campers make their way to the mountains to check out some property they bought. What they got instead was a nightmare. This Just Before Dawn.

Hehe blew up that thunderbucket!

An independent slasher film made in 1981 and directed by writer/director Jeff Lieberman (Blue Sunshine, Squirm, Doctor Franken, Remote Control, The Nevenending Story III and Satan's Little Helper) drags us into an RV and demands we play road games all the way. Okay it isn't quite that painful. Two rednecks are out hunting, drinking and shooting when they find an abandoned church and decide to dick around in it, something happens deep in the woods and they are never heard from again.

Meanwhile, a gathering of 5 twenty somethings making their way into the Oregon Trail that is a bit better mapped than that stupid Commodore 64 game where Warren (Gregg Henry of Scarface, Body Double, The Last of Philip Banter, Fair Game, Raising Cain, Payback and Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever) has a cabin in the woods but is halted by forest ranger Roy (George Kennedy of Cool Hand Luke, Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Gunsmoke and The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!) who plays a round of skeptic comments and rather than telling them outright there have been unexplained deaths he gives them a helping of Crazy Ralph.

Warren, why are we watching a bear pee on a tree?

So Warren and company ignoring the warnings, they find the roads and switchbacks cannot let the giant RV through the dense forest, so clearly we need to set up camp and hope that the ominous music. Yup that is clearly slasher-in-the-woods genre but not everyone has that noticed that.
So naturally it is plenty of opportunity to get naked, skinny dip and screw each others' brains out.

Funny thing is this is beautifully shot as they choose to shoot primarily in Silver Falls State Park via Oregon in spite of the graphic slaughter awaiting to happen. So you know what that means? Yup we need some inbred mongoloid hillbillies similar to those of Wrong Turn!  Well this came first, so there Wrong Turn!

So we get some POV perving/stalking shots this film actually defines the hidden maniacs and making it a more engrossing and eerie atmosphere allowing for a gorgeous musical score by composer Brad Fiedel (The Terminator, High School U.S.A., Fright Night, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Fright Night Part 2, Terminator 2: Judgement Day) but it doesn't change the fact that our would be victims haven't been properly fleshed out. Really needed Amy Steel from Friday the 13th Part 2. Now there is a gal that is smart, sassy, cute and kicks some ass.

Overall the vibe of the flick is impressive, story is decent enough and the effects are spot on but I think it is a wee bit the pale compared to the Vorhees clan.

Hey Jack Lemmon's son, can I get your dad's autograph?