6.2/10
4,685
87 user 52 critic

Just Before Dawn (1981)

Five campers arrive in the mountains to examine some property they have bought, but are warned by Forest Ranger Roy McLean that a huge machete-wielding maniac has been terrorising the area.... See full summary »

Director:

Jeff Lieberman

Writers:

Mark Arywitz (screenplay), Jeff Lieberman (screenplay) (as Gregg Irving) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
George Kennedy ... Roy McLean
Mike Kellin ... Ty
Chris Lemmon ... Jonathan
Gregg Henry ... Warren
Deborah Benson ... Constance
Ralph Seymour ... Daniel
Katie Powell ... Merry Cat Logan (as Kati Powell)
John Hunsaker ... Mountain Twins
Charles Bartlett ... Vachel
Jamie Rose ... Megan
Hap Oslund Hap Oslund ... Pa Logan
Barbara Spencer Barbara Spencer ... Ma Logan
Edit

Storyline

Five campers arrive in the mountains to examine some property they have bought, but are warned by 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. Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The nightmare has just begun See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 November 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Justo Antes De Amanecer See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Jeff Lieberman, despite numerous reviewers who have stated that the film was inspired by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) or The Hills Have Eyes (1977), he had not seen either film when he began shooting this film. See more »

Goofs

The long shot of Jonathan, Megan and Daniel crossing the rope bridge is preformed with stunt people. Their size and hair is noticeably not the same as the actors. 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 »

Alternate Versions

Although the cinema version was uncut the 1986 UK MIA video was cut by 7 secs by the BBFC to edit a scene where a man is stabbed through the groin with a machete and the blade emerges from his back. The cut was waived for the 2005 Odeon DVD which also features an additional 9 minutes of dialogue scenes. 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

 
High Grade Thriller, Funky Ending(No Spoilers so relax)
3 August 2005 | by lesunraSee all my reviews

I was lucky enough to see the "Horror Classics" DVD version of this film before it was mysteriously removed from the 4 film DVD and replaced with something else. The picture and sound quality of the film on that edition was a nightmare in itself. Yet, that version is STILL superior to the one with the deluxe DVD treatment. The reason was stated in Brad Fiedel's interview segments on the Special Edition DVD. He had noted what I first found so striking about this film. This being the use of music at moments of inactivity in the film, but leaving the moments of activity in silence, thus giving the horror scenes a stronger feel. The problem with this reissue is it carries the extra film score used to fill in these intentional gaps in score. Fiedel complained of this and made it clear that the filler music was not his. The music actually sounded a lot like Howard Shore's work for Videodrome. Sad for me that I am also a major fan of that film and have to associate the two.

The film itself managed to add some interesting realistic elements to the genre horror film. A group of friends go up on a mountain one of them inherited. On the mountain they are confronted with a family with a nightmarish secret. The movie moves along at a great pace. In fact every time I have seen it, I still find myself shocked to see 45 minutes had passed before things started really going wrong for the campers.

While the Horror Classics version is filled with many gaps, the fact that there is no score accompanying the horror scenes is what makes this film intelligent and even superior to most slasher films I have ever seen. The Director Jeff Lieberman had made some unique horror films previous to this one making this one the most mainstream and yet, very different to the mainstream at the same time. It is a good fun film with surprising acting performances to boot. The new spiffed up DVD version is worth a rent, the now collectors item Horror Classics version, now OOP is worth the hunt.


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