Just Before Dawn

Five friends venture into the woods and find themselves being stalked by a machete-wielding psychopath.
So Bad It's Good
Horror for Beginners

 

United States
1981
Feature Film
Realism: 
Plausible
5.04
Fuck your exposition!
2
3.04
5.04
5.04
2
2
3
Ambiance
Plot
Photography
What happens, here, is about to happen repeatedly and for decades to come. I wouldn’t call Just Before Dawn a pioneer, but its creators caught up early enough a trend that horror buffs would eventually hunt down. This slasher went under the radar of several movie-goers, because The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Halloween were more iconic, but it’ll surely rub completists the right way.
We really get the impression this story takes place deep in the woods, and not just because the script says so. We’re in the mountains, deep in a forest, around and behind a waterfall, and the dirt roads are sinuous. Carrying and powering filming equipment in the wilderness is a complex task, and the crew fully committed to it. The landscape is immersive and the extra effort pays off.
There’s so much exposition we tend to forget these guys are going to get it. That introduction kill gave us blue balls. Once the killer gets going again, he uses his machete like it’s a hunting knife, stabbing the shit out of those generic mofos. Fuck your exposition! Someone told writer/director Jeff Lieberman to spend time developing his characters, and he waited enough. Chop, chop, assholes!
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