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.

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