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Just Before Dawn

USA 1981
produced by
David Sheldon, Doro Vlado Hreljanovic, V. Paul Hreljanovic for Oakland Productions
directed by Jeff Lieberman
starring George Kennedy, Chris Lemmon, Gregg Henry, Deborah Benson, Ralph Seymour, Jamie Rose, Katie Powell, John Hunsaker, Mike Kellin, Charles Bartlett, Hap Oslund, Barbara Spencer
story by Joseph Middleton, screenplay by Gregg Irving (= Jeff Lieberman), Mark Arywitz, music by Brad Fiedel, special effects by John Morello, special makeup by Matthew W. Mungle

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Somewhere in backwoods, USA: Ty (Mike Kellin) and Vachel (Charles Bartlett) go hunting ... when Vachel is suddenly brutally slaughtered by someone, and Ty almost loses his mind over it while running for his life.

At the same time, a quintet of teens - the wholesome couple Conny (Deborah Benson) and Warren (Gregg Henry), the sex-starved couple Megan (Jamie Rose) and Jonathan (Chris Lemmon), and of course Daniel (Ralph Seymour), the guy with the glasses - head to backwoods USA, to exactly the spot where Vachel was killed to do some camping, and neither the warnings of the ranger (George Kennedy) nor of Ty, whom they think to be a madman, can keep them from going there. even when they are threatened by your local hillbilly (Hap Oslund) with his gun they are undaunted ... and our teens even catch the eye of your hillbilly's daughter Merry Kat (Katie Powell), who especially falls for Jonathan.

Then though, the killings start, and before you know it, Megan, Jonathan and Daniel are all dead, and Conny and Warren slowly start to panic - especially when the corpse of Jonathan virtually falls on them during a scene of (almost) lovemaking beneath a waterfall. Finally, the killer, a big hillbilly (John Hunsaker) closes in on them for the kill ... when the cavalry arrives in the person of the ranger, who has been alarmed by Ty and who shoots big hillbilly dead, just like that.

The end ?

Not yet, because unbeknowest to anybody (but the audience), big hillbilly had a twin brother and as soon as the ranger with his mighty rifle has gone, the brother closes in for the kill, renders Warren helpless by breaking his leg and then prepares to take care of Conny - but Conny isn't quite as helpless as one would think, and eventually, she gets hold of brother hillbilly's knife and stabs him - repeatedly and violently.


Basically, Just Before Dawn is your typical teen slasher, this time set in backwoods, USA. And concerning slashers movies as such, the film is no better or worse than your standard production - which isn't saying much since the quality standards of the slasher genre are rather low - and consequently, Just Before Dawn isn't really what you would call a good film, not by a long shot. Still, as a mindless slasher it might be ok - even if that's not saying much.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD