Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Just Before Dawn (1981, Jeff Lieberman)


Going forth with my wilderness adventure horror movie viewings, I watched Just Before Dawn on Shudder. Gregg Henry and George Kennedy both star in a movie that more than lives up to it’s title and the whole “Murder in the woods” aspect. A bunch of college kids go up into the mountains and discover all too quickly that murderous lunatics dwell amongst the lovely foliage and pretty outdoor shots. In fact the movie opens with a gruesome murder that drives the survivor insane. Deborah Benson also stars and is one of the best characters in the movie.

Kennedy’s forrest ranger warns the young folk that going up into the woods is a bad idea, so of course they ignore him. The murders in this movie are pretty brutal and the film takes itself rather seriously, which helps. Sometimes a movie like this should have very little humor, and the final confrontation is very suspenseful and well done. I think Just Before Dawn is one of those 1980s flicks that could become a favorite of mine, and it’s easily a film that would be great to view in a drive in setting.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Death Ship (1980, Alvin Rakoff)


The 1960s and 1970s were really obsessed with Nazi and WW2 movies for whatever reasons. This carried over into the 1980s, and hey guess what: it resulted in a movie about a killer Nazi ship roaming the waves. The premise is goofy and the movie is cheesy, however I still found some notable entertainment value in this movie. Plus hey George Kennedy goes completely insane in this one in a strange way that’s the best thing about this movie.

He dresses up in a Nazi uniform, tells the other survivors of a ship crash that he’s the captain, and has no qualms about tossing people overboard. Some of the kills were decent enough, and this movie wisely doesn’t overstay its run time. I’m not sure this is a good movie, however you could do worse I suppose. I could see them remaking this movie in the future, probably at the hands of Rob Zombie or some other director.

Horrorfest 2019 Presents: Creepshow 2 (1987, Michael Gornick)


Those few who have bothered to read my reviews know that I am a sucker for horror anthologies. Even the lesser ones have something good to offer, however Creepshow 2 is a good one that I rather enjoyed. The first film is better due to the director and casting choices, yet the sequel has its charms. The Creep, this time played by horror legend Tom Savini, hands the latest issue off to young Billy, all while laughing with glee. And thus, begins our film. Hey it’s from New World Pictures, that company rocked.

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Ok the wrap around story is cool, although its mostly animated. Probably for budget reasons, and because it looks great, reminding me a little of the animation from Heavy Metal. More on that later. The first story is called “Old Chief Wood’nhead,” and it concerns a nice elderly couple played by George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour. What happens to them is tragic, resulting in a killer statue coming to life and seeking revenge. This one is awesome and is wisely kept short, although the viewer is left to wonder if the old chief will do it again. Or has done it before. Spooky. Also I didn’t recognize Holt McCallany as Sam, the leader of the gang that gives the old couple trouble. It must have been the hair…

Before the next story begins, Billy stops to buy a Venus flytrap bulb. Does this figure into the story later? Maybe…and now, for “The Raft,” the best tale of the bunch. A group of young kids make a grave error and encounter something monsterous on a secluded lake. Not the fun romp they had in mind. I like the FX in this one, and the ending made me chuckle. I know the story is slightly different, and I will read it at some point. This is the only tale of the trio that could have been made into a movie. Which is not a knock on the film overall, just a reminder that some tales are better than others.

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Look at that fat bully. He leads a gang that makes the really big mistake of going after Billy. The wrap around story is actually my favorite thing about Creepshow 2, and has the main thing I like about both films: if you are a sucky person, you get crushed by the wheel of karma. This brings us to the last tale, a bleak slice of humor called “The Hitch-hiker.” Lois Chiles cheats on her husband, then runs over some poor guy on her way home. She keeps on driving, only to find out that sometimes the dead refuse to stay dead. “THANKS FOR THE RIDE, LADY!” is a line I will never forget, haha, along with Stephen King playing a trucker in a weird little cameo.

Overall despite its flaws (low budget, only three stories, lesser cast, etc) I rather liked Creepshow 2. I have no desire to watch the third film. I believe that Shudder is making a new Creepshow show, which sounds promising. They were also the reason I was able to finally view this flick. What a great resource.

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