Imagine - Just Before Dawn
Jeff Lieberman / US, 1981 / 90 min.
Early slasher with an ominous role for Mother Nature and a surprise from the resident psychopath.
Five teenagers in a camper head into the mountains, where one of them owns some land. Earlier we a saw a man getting slaughtered by a chuckling fat guy with a machete. You can guess what happens next. Or can you? This early slasher has an ominous role for Mother Nature, while the resident psychopath has a surprise in store for us.
Director Jeff Lieberman had already acquired some cult status with Squirm (1976) and Blue Sunshine (1977) when he decided to make a slasher, with the shooting dates more or less coinciding with those of Friday the 13th. Just Before Dawn is therefore certainly not an imitation of that classic. With nature as an environment that is as threatening as it is idyllic, the film has more in common with John Boorman”s Deliverance (1972). Bushes rustle eerily around the campsite at night, and when one of the couples is making out underneath a waterfall, a corpse suddenly plunges into the water behind them. The ambient synthesizer score by Brad Fiedel (three years before The Terminator) takes care of the rest. Goosebumps!