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Just Before Dawn (1981)

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 ... See full summary »

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(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Gregg Irving) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Roy McLean
...
Ty
...
Jonathan
...
Warren
...
...
Daniel
Katie Powell ...
Merry Cat Logan (as Kati Powell)
...
Charles Bartlett ...
Vachel
...
Megan
Hap Oslund ...
Pa Logan
Barbara Spencer ...
Ma Logan
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Storyline

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... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The nightmare has begun -- See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 October 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Justo Antes De Amanecer  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended cut)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

An early draft of the script had Jonathan attempting to seduce Merry Kat, instead of Merry Cat flirting with him after putting on Megan's makeup. See more »

Goofs

At 50:19, When Daniel approaches the cemetery to take pictures a boom mic is visible for a few seconds in the top left of the screen before it is realized and then pulled out of the frame. See more »

Quotes

[after Warren and Jonathan scare the group]
Daniel: I knew it was you guys all along.
Jonathan: Oh come on Dan you were more freaked out than the girls.
Daniel: I just wasn't sure it was you.
Jonathan: So you peed your pants to play it safe, huh?
See more »

Connections

References Deliverance (1972) See more »

Soundtracks

Heart Of Glass
Written by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein
Performed by Blondie
©(1979) Courtesy of Chrysalis Records, A Division of EMI
Under License from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets
See more »

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User Reviews

 
You might not be up before dawn.
24 January 2009 | by (the Mad Hatter's tea party.) – See all my reviews

The mountainous woods, young happy campers, a warning by a park ranger and a lurking figure. The ingredients are there for a horror delight, and director/co-writer Jeff Lieberman does an adequate job at achieving it. It's formulaic woodland horror, but for most part the execution is at the top the game and the story (which is quite basic in a trimmed sense) is effectively told in certain realism. Maybe a little more exposition wouldn't have gone astray, but Lieberman's craftsmanship makes up for the material's flaws and typical details with rising tension, moody visuals and a smothering atmosphere created by Brad Fiedel's very ominously lingering score. Whenever that very creepy whistling was cued in, it painted a truly unnerving sense that settled in with the beautiful backdrop. Cinematographers Dean M. and Joel King do a striking job too. There's plenty of style abound, even with its minimal scope and the build-up is slow grinding. At times the pacing can become a stop-and-go affair. It's not particularly violent, but there's still a mean-streak evident even if some of it happens of screen. The latter chase scenes and escalating fear is well done, as it has the darkness coming alive with itS burly killer/s and you get actor George Kennedy riding his white horse in a slight, but wonderful turn. There's a likable bunch of performances; Deborah Benson makes for a strong, dashing heroine. Gregg Henry, Chris Lemmon Ralph Seymour, Jamie Rose, Mike Kellin and Katie Powell round off a modest cast of believable deliveries. The final climax is rather twisted, but the ending is one of those types that leave you thinking… "Is that it?"

A well-etched backwoods slasher item, which probably plays it a little too safe to truly set it apart from the norm.


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