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: Doom Asylum (1987, Richard Friedman)


Sure Doom Asylum is silly, cheesy, and very low budget. At one point a character says something about a person meeting them and God or whatever. I can’t remember, it was hilarious. This is a fun late 1980s slasher movie that refuses to take itself seriously, has a decent enough cast and is good fun trash that works anyways. Elements of the movie are a parody of slasher movies anyways, and work better in comedic fashion.

A lawyer and his girlfriend get in a horrible car crash. She dies, he becomes a mutilated killer who lurks in an abandoned aslyum. Some young folks show up to get horribly murdered in various ways by the killer, who spends half the flick watching old movies. Kristin Davis is probably the most famous actress in this movie, followed by Patty Mullen.

The ending made me laugh actually, and the kills are really good for a silly movie such as this one. Also the killer has some hilarious one liners and he looks really gruesome. This flick is easily a The Last Drive In candidate, although I’m sure the folks there have already seen this and I bet Joe Bob Briggs has reviewed it at some point. Check it out.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Prevenge (2016, Alice Lowe)


Life sometimes imitates art, as in the case of Prevenge, which Alice Lowe made while actually pregnant with her own child. In this film her unborn child propels her to seek violent revenge against those responsible for her beloved’s demise. Or at least that’s how she feels, as she goes on an epic murder spree. This film is as much a dark comedy as it is a slasher movie, and some parts are quite humorous.

I think my favorite part was Ruth taking care of a businesswoman who foolishly does not hire her. Some of the movie doesn’t quite work, however by the unexpected conclusion I had mostly bought onto what Prevenge was offering. You don’t have to be a woman about to give birth to appreciate a film like this, although I bet it probably helps a little or a lot.

A final coda is that the unborn baby telling Ruth to kill is very Friday the 13th, and Ruth not being afraid to kill those who also offend her is very American Psycho. I can admire a film that leans on the influences that add to the overall makeup and texture, and Lowe has a pretty good directing look and feel for an actor moving to behind the camera. Viewed on Shudder and recommended.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Murder Party (2007, Jeremy Saulnier)


Most of this film is build up to a wild final act, and yet the movie is constructed in a way that it makes sense. Poor Christopher unfortunately shows up at a party full of costume men and women that have decided to kill him. For art, of course, since that’s what’s hip nowadays. Before Jeremy Saulnier gave us Blue Ruin and Green Room him and his buddies crafted this weird slasher movie full of awful people and strange happenings.

Despite being really low budget this movie has good pacing and is entertaining. The murder artists have radical costumes-the ones inspired by The Warriors and Blade Runner were my favorites. Also being in line with Saulnier’s other films this one has gore and violence to spare. I loved Blue Ruin and I enjoyed this film so up next is Green Room, which I’ve heard good things about.

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