Just Before Dawn - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Just Before Dawn Reviews

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½ March 6, 2012
A lame 1980 Slasher movie that has Drive-In written all over it.
Super Reviewer
October 1, 2011
Just Before Dawn can be seen as an obscured gem in the Slasher genre. Released in the early 1980's, Just Before Dawn barely made a ripple in the thriving Slasher genre of the early 80's. I think this is a great shame because upon watching this film, you realize that Just Before Dawn is not like your typical Slasher film that relies solely on the blood and guts routine. Yes, there's some bloody killings, but it's pretty minimal stuff. What makes this Slasher film better than most is the fact that the director uses creepy atmosphere with a slow buildup to create the tension, and that is the key to why the film works so well. Just Before Dawn limits the violence the violence factors and uses more convincing tactics i order to build the horror in the viewer, that's where the eerie atmosphere, suspense and dark and creepy film score come into play. These are some of the elements that made Halloween such an effective horror film, and director Jeff Lieberman has crafted something that is quite frankly better than many of the big slasher films that came out during this period. Just Before Dawn, along with Halloween proves that you don't need massive amounts of blood and gore to create an effective, and terrifying Slasher film. With the right elements you can create something spooky that will deliver the thrills that horror fans crave dearly. A well crafted atmospheric slasher film that delivers good acting, great scares with good bloody kills, and doesn't try to go overboard either. A must see for Slasher film fans.
½ August 2, 2011
great deep woods slasher!!!!!the music in the background reminds me of friday the 13th highlights 1.george kennedy watering his planets (a nod to cool hand luke"lucielle" 2.the odd ending 3. having a really crappy vhs copy for years which was so dark you could barely make out anything espically what happens at the end and then years later buying the dvd and finally watching the movie and be actually able to see just before dawn's odd ending
July 21, 2011
Slow moving but solid creepy backwoods slasher from the early 80s. The films killers are overweight, inbred, creepy, twin brother mountain men who terrorize a group of yuppie campers up in the mountains. The kinda slasher movie where you don't really care about the campers who are on their self indulgent vacations, who only serve as annoying set pieces that make you route for their deaths. The film is very slow moving at parts but if you stick around till the very end...your pay off will be worth the wait.
Super Reviewer
June 15, 2011
A 1980 Slasher movie that has Drive-In written all over it. 5 young people take a camper into the mountains of California only to stumble upon a man running thru the woods claiming his buddy has been murdered. Does this turn them back, nope, even after park ranger George Kennedy tells them not to go up on the mountain, but one of the young people hold a deed to the property and he is going. So begins a want to be Jason running around the mountain killing people. Some beautiful scenes of 2 beautiful women of the 1980 era, Jamie Rose who we see topless shots of while in the lake and a got more beautiful as she grew older Deborah Benson. Its not the best slasher movie, might have been top notch in 1980 but I can only give it a 3 star rating today.
½ June 2, 2011
A mostly unknown golden age slasher, Just Before Dawn is a brutal, twisted little gem that will delight fans of the genre with its gritty aesthetic and inbred killer family in the vein of Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes. While Just Before Dawn features numerous comedic moments, it is not always as cheesy as some of its contemporary slasher fare, and this is predominately because it cultivates a realistic, "snuff film" aesthetic similar to Craven's Last House on the Left. It's a dirty looking film, which highlights its depiction of dirty deeds. By no means a classic, Just Before Dawn nonetheless manages to be a memorable and under-appreciated slasher film that will almost assuredly entertain fans of genre looking for films they haven't seen.
May 15, 2011
A backwoods slasher like any other but something about this one stands out.. is it the music? the (very) few unexpected things? the off screen death? I can't tell you exactly but it is one of the best backwood slasher movies.. deff a MUST for slasher fans!
May 13, 2011
I think I'm a slasher fan and this fills my expectations. I love the setting with the mountains and the waterfall. Careful, villain is ugly and kind of psychotic.
½ May 12, 2011
Kinda dissapointing.
I liked only the opening sequence but other than that...i prefer the modern WRONG TURN way way better.

Lacks a good story...and tension.
½ November 15, 2010
I had seen Squirm and Blue Sunshine from Jeff Lieberman previously and wasn't very impressed, but I had heard that this is a classic, so I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did. I actually liked it quite a bit. Definitely one of the children of Deliverance and the ambient synth music score reminded me of some Werner Herzog movies. Don't think I'm coming it to Herzog, though. Lieberman isn't in his league, but the movie does have an atmospheric quality that I liked and it's slower than a lot of slasher movies now, which some people might find boring.
October 15, 2010
Joining the fashion that most of you have been doing because of Halloween, I am reviewing here my first slasher film of the month. The film Just Before Dawn is a 1981 slasher film directed by Jeff Lieberman. The film basically follows the story line of many of the famous slasher films, like Friday the 13th:
A group of five friends go up a mountain to go camping. They are warned by a couple of people of the surroundings to stay away from the area, but, surprise surprise, they don't listen to them and go up the mountain anyway. There, strange events start to ocurring, including the disappearance of one of them. When he is found, the four remaining are split in two groups of two. The one who found him are aware that there is something in that mountain (though they are skeptical at first), but the second don't know until they are attacked by the thing inside the forest.

Well, this film is better than your average slasher film. Slasher films are, by common, a genre that has many flawed films, and only about the 20 or 25 per cent of them are good (examples are the originals of Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc., as well as other stand alone films like Black Christmas). This film isn't terrible, but still isn't qualifyable.

To start with the plot, the plot is predictable and full of clichés, though it smartly avoids a couple. It has been done about a dozen times (kids camping in the woods, haunted by an unknown killer, etc, etc), but at least in this film they dont go into the killings right away. They first start with the camp and its surrounding. Then they try to add a little suspense, and then, when they finally get into the killings, they dont go into gory details of murder, they just happen.

This leads me to the direction of the film, which is probably the best thing about it. It isn't excellent, but still it is quite good compared to many of the other slasher films. The director in this film doesn't focus on the blood and gore as I already said, but instead tries to set a very creepy and dark atmosphere.

The acting, well, the acting isn't anything remarkable, its a little wooden in fact, but it is better than from most of the slasher films. The characters are cardboard cutouts, but again, that's not new in a slasher film. The main actress might be the best one, then her boyfriend, then maybe the other guy boyfriend of the redhead. The redhead and the other guy are the worst, along with the blonde girl they met singing. Despite this, the last three do a much more credible job than in most of the slasher remakes we see today. But again, this is not Oscar worthy.

A thing I didn't like was the killer. *WARNING: THIS PART O THE REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE RUINED TO THIS MOVIE SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH* The killer was a fat disigures man (or rather two) who chases the main characters through the forest. That's exactly what Jason Vorhees does, true, but Jason is much more cooler than this fat clown-looking guy. Though the fact that there's two of them kind of spices things up, but doesn't help to much with this little effective cheesy villain.

The film is better than most of the slasher films, but it isn't still a good one. The film lacks the punch of superior films like Halloween or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the villain isn't a very good one. But still, the actors do a better job than in other slasher movies, and the director does a good job at setting the mood. So at the end, the film isn't very original and is predictable, the villain is very crappy, but it is better than in most cases (sorry if its starting to get repetitive).
My recommendation: I won't say this is a film you have to stay away as much as you can, but it isn't a film you should watch either. I'll leave it to your choosing weather to watch it or not.
My score: 44%
July 25, 2010
One of the better slashers that I didn't see in the hayday of VHS but took me until my 20s & then I only saw it in VHS where you couldn't see shit. Im thankful that this has a DVD release where you can finally see its dynamite finale. If I ever see Leonard Maltin Im going to do him the same way & shove my fist right down his throat. Other then a truly original ending there's a lot to like here. Heart of Glass by Blondie, beautiful locals, creepy backwoods killers & George Kennedy talking to his plants & horse. When it comes down to our five campers the writing is a little thin which stops this from becoming a horror classic but the soundtrax is good & eerie. I used to bend a timpani just like that in band class..I really think I missed my calling. I could have scored some great horror movies w/ a timpani & synthesizer
July 1, 2010
A great film and incredibly well made in comparison to countless other backwoods horror sleaze that's out there.
July 1, 2010
just what it says on the label. fun fun fun. specially when watched in the cinema with a bunch of people laughing at the jokes and gorey scenes! epic moments, like the 80s 'sexy' dancing, and the first killing, and the twin killer... and the choking by fisting!! hahaaaaa brilliant.
June 25, 2010
Five young adults go camping in the mountains and cross a pair of inbred brothers who reduce the number of passengers for the RV ride home. One of the films that helped establish stereotypes for the horror genre. Better than Friday the 13th.
April 29, 2010
This movie is weak. I waited for it to get better....and it didnt.
April 26, 2010
Fairly typical but enjoyable slasher from the director of squirm. Good kills and decent acting, this one should appeal to 80s fans. A bit influenced by TCM, this movie dares to include a naked red head - gotta respect that.
½ February 11, 2010
Grand classique perdu de l'�ge d'or des slasher movies (qui tient plus pour moi du "wrong turn movie"). On n'évite pas les acteurs médiocres assumant le rôle d'abrutis prenant des décisions injustifiables, mais on savoure un scénario intriguant, des découpages de plans et des choix de mise en scène qui dénotent un vrai cinéaste (ou quelque chose d'approchant) et l'une des meilleures bande-son de l'époque. Ultime test pour un film d'horreur de série B : ma blonde a aimé ça.
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