Movie of the Week: Just Before Dawn (1981)

New to me, but apparently it's had an enthusiastic following for years. Easily the finest film I've seen from director Jeff Lieberman, best known for Squirm, Blue Sunshine and Satan's Little Helper, movies that aren't all that great. But this has a nice on-location Oregonian setting for the entire film, talented cinematography, and a buildup of suspense that takes its time and doesn't transition to full-blown horror until the third or fourth reel.

Unfairly grouped into the Slasher genre because of the era in which it was released, as well as the teenagers-in-peril scenario. But if you except the opening and closing scenes, there's almost no onscreen violence. It's more closely related to Deliverance, The Hills Have Eyes and Blastfighter: crazy redneck retards hunting down unarmed civilized people in a remote environment is a tried and true, can't-miss formula when done well. It's an assured, practically tasteful thriller.

This youtube video resolution sure is crummy. Looks like a VHS rip. Maybe even a rip of a copy of a VHS done at the cheapskate six-hour EP speed that I always used. There's a better free version here. Or you can always buy or rent it on disc, if you're the type who does that sort of thing.

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