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Just Before Dawn (1981)

Five campers are stalked and killed in the mountains after traveling there to examine property they had purchased.



(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Gregg Irving) | 1 more credit »

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Complete credited cast:
Roy McLean
Deborah Benson ...
Katie Powell ...
Merry Cat Logan (as Kati Powell)
Charles Bartlett ...
Hap Oslund ...
Pa Logan
Barbara Spencer ...
Ma Logan


Five campers arrive in the mountains to examine some property they have bought, but are warned by the forest ranger Roy McLean that a huge machete-wielding maniac has been terrorising the area. Ignoring the warnings, they set up camp, and start disappearing one by one. If that sounds too run-of-the-mill, there's a genuinely shocking plot twist half-way through... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Will Anyone Survive Those Hours Just Before Dawn? See more »


Horror | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 October 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Justo Antes De Amanecer  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (extended cut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to director Jeff Lieberman, despite numerous reviewers who have stated that the film was inspired by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) or The Hills Have Eyes (1977), he had not seen either film when he began shooting this film. See more »


At 50:19, When Daniel approaches the cemetery to take pictures a boom mic is visible for a few seconds in the top left of the screen before it is realized and then pulled out of the frame. See more »


Warren: There's nothing out there but God's little creatures, more scared of you than you are of them.
See more »


References Deliverance (1972) See more »


Heart Of Glass
Written by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein
Performed by Blondie
©(1979) Courtesy of Chrysalis Records, A Division of EMI
Under License from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets
See more »

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User Reviews

High Grade Thriller, Funky Ending(No Spoilers so relax)
3 August 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I was lucky enough to see the "Horror Classics" DVD version of this film before it was mysteriously removed from the 4 film DVD and replaced with something else. The picture and sound quality of the film on that edition was a nightmare in itself. Yet, that version is STILL superior to the one with the deluxe DVD treatment. The reason was stated in Brad Fiedel's interview segments on the Special Edition DVD. He had noted what I first found so striking about this film. This being the use of music at moments of inactivity in the film, but leaving the moments of activity in silence, thus giving the horror scenes a stronger feel. The problem with this reissue is it carries the extra film score used to fill in these intentional gaps in score. Fiedel complained of this and made it clear that the filler music was not his. The music actually sounded a lot like Howard Shore's work for Videodrome. Sad for me that I am also a major fan of that film and have to associate the two.

The film itself managed to add some interesting realistic elements to the genre horror film. A group of friends go up on a mountain one of them inherited. On the mountain they are confronted with a family with a nightmarish secret. The movie moves along at a great pace. In fact every time I have seen it, I still find myself shocked to see 45 minutes had passed before things started really going wrong for the campers.

While the Horror Classics version is filled with many gaps, the fact that there is no score accompanying the horror scenes is what makes this film intelligent and even superior to most slasher films I have ever seen. The Director Jeff Lieberman had made some unique horror films previous to this one making this one the most mainstream and yet, very different to the mainstream at the same time. It is a good fun film with surprising acting performances to boot. The new spiffed up DVD version is worth a rent, the now collectors item Horror Classics version, now OOP is worth the hunt.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Just Before Dawn To Blu-Ray....FINALLY!!! ccc62371
WHY DID I BUY THIS CRAP!!!!! pernille8686
A German DVD from this movie is UNCENSORED! hodderschick
Please Dont Say to me... startofend
What DVD to get? Bunders
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