6.2/10
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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

Production Co:

Oakland Productions See more »
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

The first draft of the script that would become this movie was written in 1978, and originally titled "The Tennessee Mountain Murders". The script went through rigorous revisions (and two title changes) before being filmed. 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 »

Alternate Versions

Despite the various release through the years, there are three main versions of the film. 1: The US VHS release from Paragon (1980s). This is still the most complete version of the film to date. Also it was considered completely uncut until very recently with the release of a UK dvd (see below). 2: The US region 1 two disc DVD set from Shriek Show - this disc is a cut down version of the film. All the footage in this version also appears on the Paragon video tape (minus a number of scenes). Shriek Show used the best print they were able to obtain (widescreen with a second disc of extras) for their release. 3: The UK region 2 DVD (originally a play.com exclusive, now available at all major retailers) released by Odeon entertainment (pal format) is also a cut down version of the film. However, it contains many small scenes/dialogue that do not appear in any known prior US/UK version of the film. The film used for this UK release is in bad shape and its original source is unknown 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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