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Film / Just Before Dawn

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"Will anyone survive those hours Just Before Dawn?"

A Slasher Movie from the year 1981. It was filmed by Jeff Lieberman, who also directed Squirm, Blue Sunshine, and Satan's Little Helper.

The film is set in the Oregon mountainside, where a group of youths embark on a camping trip in their RV. They are warned by a local forest ranger to not to go too deep into the woods, but they ignore the warnings and find out the hard way how dangerous the forest can really be...


This film has examples of:

  • Abandoned Area: The first onscreen murder occurs in an abandoned church in the middle of the woods.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The Mountain Twins, a sadistic twosome who like to kill people.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Connie and Warren survive the massacre, but all their friends are dead.
  • Blind Mistake: Daniel forgets his glasses inside the dilapitated church, and in his nearsightedness, fails to see that it's not Jonathan coming to him and Megan, it's a killer with a machete. He is stabbed in the stomach, and Megan has to run for it.
  • Cassandra Truth: After his nephew is killed, Ty acts as the usual "slasher movie guy whose warnings are not heeded" when he runs to the youths, who don't believe his ramblings about "demons" due to his drunken state.
  • Character Development: Explored with Connie and Warren:
    • Connie begins as a sensitive outdoors type who finds disappointment in herself when she freezes in fear when confronted by a possible threat in the woods, yet her friend Megan with far less outdoors experience didn't hesitate to grab a knife. Connie from then on works on finding strength in herself, even embracing her feminine side with more revealing clothes and make-up, all of which gives her confidence to take down the killer at the end.
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    • With Warren, he is introduced as a confident outdoorsman and the leader of the group. He remarks at the start of the trip that where they were going was no summer camp. Upon receiving an injury from the killer, Warren is stripped of his confidence and forced to watch as his girlfriend Connie fights the killer alone. Shortly before the end credits, it is Warren crying in Connie's arms.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: After Warren and Connie find Jonathan's lifeless body floating down the river, Warren breathes down his throat once, puts his ear on his chest, and gives up on him.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The second twin dies by suffocation when Connie rams her fist down his throat.
  • Cue the Sun: As implied by the title, Connie deals with last of the horror just before sunrise.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: Death awaits in The Other Rainforest, in the form of redneck killer twins.
  • Expy: According to the Word of God, Connie is based on Jon Voight's character Ed in Deliverance in terms of character development and ultimate survival.
  • Event Title
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: The engine of Ty's and Vachel's pickup truck explodes when it rolls down a hill unmanned, and hits a tree.
  • Fearsome Foot: As the cast walks to the rope bridge they want to check out, the camera focuses on a pair of boots that step on a piece of trash that they left behind.'
  • Foreshadowing: One character remarks at the beginning: "Wonder why there's so many twins around here..."
  • Final Girl: Gradually subverted. Connie starts out as an ordinary Final Girl candidate. As the movie progresses though, her once-conservative clothing gradually gets sexier until the trope is fully subverted when her boyfriend survives the final confrontation as well.
  • Groin Attack: Vachel is stabbed on his crotch with a machete, and the blade goes through his body, coming out of his ass. The blade is then slowly pulled out of him, the ridges on its back causing extra agony.
  • Machete Mayhem: With some custom Serrated Blade of Pain thrown in its backside.
  • No Name Given: Neither of the killers are named, the credits only lists them as "Mountain Twins". Their parents' name is given as Logan, though.
  • Outside Ride: The cap-wearing killer jumps on the back of the main cast's RV, and the they think of the sudden shaking of the thing as a bump on the road.
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping:
    • While Megan and Jonathan are bathing in a pond, Merry Cat is seen peeping on them. And then the audience is shown that her brother is present as well....
    • Shooting the aforementioned scene turned into an example as well, as the word about the nudity of Megan's actress got around the area, and it attracted quite a few onlookers.
  • The Reveal: Halfway to the film, it is revealed that a pair of twins (both played by the same actor) are responsible for the deaths.
  • Rangers Are Useless: Averted. Roy Mc Lean, the local Ranger, proves to be quite competent. He even manages to gun down the first twin, thus saving Connie's life.
  • Rope Bridge: One goes across a chasm near the cast's camp. Jonathan, when going across it alone, encounters Merry Cat's brother at the end of it, who cuts Jonathan's hand with his machete, and then the ropes holding the bridge.
  • Scenery Porn: Lots of establishing shots focus on the surrounding woods of the setting.
  • Thicker Than Water: The parents of the twins know that they are killers (or "the devil" as they put it), but won't say anything about it since they are kin. Merry Cat doesn't agree on it, and gets slapped for going against her family.
  • Wham Shot: As Megan spies on the killer after he took Daniel's life behind a window, camera goes back to her, and the killer's twin brother steps into the view.


Example of: