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.

Top 20 Horror Films of the 2000s Presents: Slither (2006)


8.    Slither (2006, James Gunn)

After years of putting this movie off I finally decided to see what all of the fuss was about and finally watched it one or two Horrorfests ago. Needless to say I get why people love this movie so much (and I’m now included in their company): its gross, really darkly funny, and incredibly entertaining. Slither exists as a throwback to films such as Night of the Creeps while also channeling Shivers, two equally disgusting movies about creepy bug creatures invading people’s brains and turning them into brain dead zombies. In Slither’s case the aliens are from outer space, popping out of a meteor and infecting the town’s local millionaire-Grant Grant, wonderfully played by famous character actor Michael Rooker-which leads to him infecting others in the process since he ends up becoming a mutated beast. Things just get progressively worse from there, and the rest of the movie features the town’s sheriff (endlessly dependable Nathan Fillion) and Grant Grant’s wife (the lovely Elizabeth Banks) trying to end the infestation.

As great as Fillion is in this movie-his sheriff is equal parts humorous and completely bewildered by the situation-its really Gregg Henry’s slick mayor who has some of the movie’s best lines. “Bitch is hardcore” is one of my favorites, among others; hell I could quote most of the entire movie. Not too many films succeed in combing comedy with horror, and Slither pulls that feat off really well. Especially in the scene where Fillion fights a deer: you just have to see it to believe it. Its a shame that this movie was not a box office hit, especially since its so well made and is a blast to watch. Hopefully more people seek out this movie on DVD and Blu Ray, although I would not recommend watching this while eating. The monster version of Grant Grant is enough to cause some people to vomit. Some horror movies really are not for the faint of heart.

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