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Deadbeat at Dawn
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Deadbeat at Dawn More at IMDbPro »

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

intense and gritty street brawler flick

Author: sjogro from the netherlands
24 August 2005

If you liked playing Double Dragon on your Nintendo, you will love this movie! It's about the kind of blokes you'd have in the video game but now it's just about as psycho crazy and atmospheric as Abel Ferrara's Driller Killer. A street-brawler kid quits his gang to live with his girl, but off course it's not that easy to turn his back on the gang.. It's a very simple plot, but it has a certain style and intensity that make up for that lack of complexity. The style, to compare, is a bit between Driller Killer and Richard Kern's short films (The Hardcore Collection). A sometimes psychotic montage with lots of stylish and semi-shocking images and great action scenes with intense gore and a haunting musical score. Or maybe it was just really good weed. Who knows..

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Van Bebber is out of control

Author: wytshark
21 January 2000

Jim Van Bebber seems to be a man with absolutely no impulse control...and thank god for it. Moving with the brash logic of a couple of 12 year old boys playing army in the backyard, Deadbeat at Dawn is curious and compelling, trashy and brilliant. You want cult? You want guilty pleasure? You want guys getting throwing stars lodged in their heads? This movie has it all and then some. At first glance, you may dismiss this as cheapjack filmmaking (the thing looks like a drive-in movie), but trying to shut it off is near impossible. You will be sucked in; you will be fascinated. And if Van Bebber isn't a guy who deserves a shot at the brass ring with a real budget and a real crew, I honestly don't know who is. Not only does he shoot action sequences with some of the most urgent and alive camera work I've seen in awhile, he also does his own stunts--some of it crazy Jackie Chan level stuff. Watching him get dragged around by a car at the end of the flick, I just sat there wondering how this guy didn't end up in a hospital or worse.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Legendary independent film from Jim Van Bebber

Author: Bogey Man from Finland
13 July 2002

Deadbeat at Dawn is directed, written and created by Jim Van Bebber, a film student who decided to make a low budget feature film in the tradition of Evil Dead and other drive-in blockbusters that were hugely popular in the 80's and made a lot of money. He created Deadbeat at Dawn with his fellow students and friends, and finally his first feature film was completed in 1988, and what a film that is!

Bebber himself plays Goose, a leader in street gang who decides to quit the violent and dangerous gang life and start a peaceful life with his girlfriend Christy. Goose's gang is Ravens and the rival gang is Spiders. Spiders don't like Goose quitting the gang life and they arrange Goose's murder. That doesn't succeed, instead, they murder Christy in brutal way while Goose is on his final drug deal somewhere in dirty streets of Ohio. When he finds her beloved girlfriend killed and savagely mutilated, he starts the savage fight for life and only one thing in mind: revenge.

I had extremely high expectations on this film, and then I finally ordered the expensive DVD and watched the film. I must say I'm not disappointed, but still the film is not as great as I hoped. My all time favorite US underground film is Buddy Giovinazzo's incredible and ultra disturbing masterpiece Combat Shock, which is still far more powerful and relentless than Van Bebber's film. Deadbeat at Dawn is very grim and dirty, but it is not as relentless and emotionally powerful as Combat Shock or Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver. Deadbeat at Dawn relies on savage brutality and the result is interesting and definitely works in its own genre.

The settings are very dirty and scummy as there are drug users, prostitutes and all kinds of diseases found in big cities and modern society. Goose is only little "better" than the bad guys in this film, and the bad guys are REALLY bad and revolting, and all the actors (mostly amateurs) made incredible job in this film as the most fierce moments were improvised and developed when the camera was already rolling. The scene, where Bonecrusher swears how he hates people: "I hate people!! I really fu***n' hate people!!" is very menacing as this guy is really nuts and dangerous and he is equally bad as the film's main villain, Danny, the leader of the rival gang. The only positive characters in the film are the two females, Christy and her sister, and according to director Van Bebber, that is one of the film's themes: Goose had the possibility to start a better life with the help of this element of peace and beauty, Christy, but since he didn't understand it in time and couldn't realize its/her value, he finally lost Christy and had nothing left, only anger and willing to revenge. He knew this all might end badly for himself, too, but that didn't matter since he had lost the light of his life; after the revenge there would be nothing.

The film has also bits of social commentary. Van Bebber has said that at least the scenes at the garage and little boys pretending to shoot at each other have a meaning and criticize our society and world in different ways. The garage scene says something about how easy it is to get a gun in US as everyone seems to have one, even old people and seemingly peaceful persons. This film depicts the world and society that has been created this horrible and ugly by its inhabitants themselves. This film is very rough as it shows the ugliest sides of modern day life and things that we and films in general (especially mainstream) don't usually want to accept or talk about.

The various fight scenes are shot and edited pretty stylishly. Couple of scenes have perhaps little fast edits and thus become too restless, but mostly this film is greatly mace with the very low budget. The soundtrack is also very menacing and ominous at times, and it adds much to the atmosphere. This film proves the talent of Jim Van Bebber, and shows what kind of results can be achieved with talent and innovation.

Not only this film is grim and ugly in its scenery and world it takes place, it is also ultra violent and graphic. The gang fights are as bloody as possible and nothing has been left to imagination. All strokes of nunchukas and knifes are visible and they hurt as if the viewer was hit himself. Only act of violence that's left to imagination is the beating and killing of Christy, and Van Bebber said that it was intentional as "sometimes less is more" and he definitely didn't want to make this horrible scene graphic and full of on screen blood, and I think it is now as brutal as possible. The violence in Deadbeat at Dawn is very strong especially during the film's last fight, when Goose finally gets face to face with the gang members who killed his girl and caused this mayhem. People are sliced with blades, hurt with throwing stars, blasted by guns with ultra gory wounds, beaten to shapeless, killed by ripping off a throat/larynx - a scene that is perhaps even more graphic and off putting than the finale in Japanese Sonny Chiba's legendary Street Fighter (1974), a film which has also a similar throat ripping scene. Deadbeat at Dawn is so over-the-top violent and gory piece of independent cinema, I think this will and alienates many fans of marginal cinema, too, as I know many so called film fanatics specialized in B films and underground, that simply HATE Deadbeat at Dawn and speak very badly about it! Deadbeat at Dawn is so gritty and violent (mentally and physically) that it is far too hard to take for most of the people. Of course it's true that cinema this underground has always small audience so it's not any surprise so many hate this film. I don't hate this, but don't like it as highly as I wanted to. Maybe I had too high expectations after experiencing Combat Shock so many times before Deadbeat.

Deadbeat at Dawn is pretty immoral film since the violence and act of revenge feels pretty gratuitous at times, but that can still be interpreted as a very brutal bit of commentary about life and society. This film is so full of hate and anger, it definitely means something and shocks the senses of the viewer. Still, the film is somewhat shallow and relies maybe too much on these fierce scenes of violence, and if the film had such a strong message and emotional elements as Taxi Driver, for instance, this would definitely be a great masterpiece of independent cinema. Therefore I give this 8/10 instead of more, and recommend this film ONLY for very tolerant film fans and people who like and understand underground cinema of Jörg Buttgereit and Abel Ferrara, for instance, and films like Combat Shock, Baise-Moi, Last House on the Left and other extremely grim and depressing films, films that demand a lot from the viewer.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Judged for what it is, not badly done at all

Author: TheMarquisDeSuave from Worcester, MA
1 October 2006

Jim Van Bebber has gained notoriety in the past few years for the release of his labor of love "The Manson Family". A lot of hype on the cult underground has surrounded that release, so it may be worthwhile to go back to this, his first feature length film. The acting is certainly sub par and often laughably over-the-top (I'm sorry but the Dad made me giggle), but the overall nihilistic attitude certainly sticks with you. Its obvious from the beginning that Van Bebber had some talent. The dialog isn't Beckett, but its certainly memorable (particulary the "I hate people" monologue, gotta sample that one).

One of the most memorable aspects of the film is the gore. For working on such a clearly minuscule budget, the gore effects are very well done. The graphic and unrelenting climax in particular is one I'll probably never forget. This shows that Van Bebber was honestly attempting to create a well done film as opposed to just some exploitive fodder. About as socially redeeming as a sewage pipe, but thats just the way I like my films. (6/10)

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

With a little more money, who knows?

Author: chanvat from North Carolina
24 July 2003

This film is pretty good in its own right with a budget of probably less than $10,000. Jim Van Bebber should be commended for his work on this film, or should I say his 100% effort on this film, starring in it, writing it, directing it, stunts, makeup, and so forth. However, I would not consider the acting in this film great. Though the most rewarding scene for me was the concluding 10+ min fight sequence. Some of the stunts that were pulled off in that sequence looked much more dangerous than what you see in the multi-million dollar films, and Van Bebber probably did most if not all of them. 9 for the action, 3 for the acting gives you a 6/10 overall.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

"Be prepared to meet thy God."

Author: Backlash007 from Kentucky
3 April 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Inspired by the drive-in success of The Evil Dead, Deadbeat at Dawn is disturbingly effective film-making. It's violent, gritty, and has shock value that's second to none. Jim Van Bebber is a madman behind the camera. He controlled every aspect of this film: he wrote, edited, acted, choreographed stunts and fights, created make-up effects, and directed. In Deadbeat, Van Bebber stars as Goose (or Goose Lee as he's known to my friends and I), the leader of the Ravens and the greatest anti-hero ever. The leader of the rival gang, the Spiders, orders his best goons to attack Goose at home. Instead of finding Goose, they find his girlfriend...and beat her to death. Goose returns home after a hard day of drug dealing only to find his girlfriend's mangled body. That's when Goose goes ballistic. And you better bring along a strong stomach. It's a standard tale of revenge and redemption but there's something special about it. It taps into the raw and savage power of film. The action and violence are unbelievable, but there are breaks in between to let the viewer slow down and take a deep breath. In these breaks, there are hints at social commentary. One scene sums this up: Goose watching two children shoot each other with toy guns. It's so short and there's no dialogue but it certainly says a lot. There's an unspoken element there that's missing from most action movies. I honestly expected all of the reviews I read to dog the film. To my surprise, it was actually well-received. It seems as though everyone who has experienced Deadbeat appreciates the awkward feelings it inspires. Deadbeat at Dawn is truly an American independent action classic.

Note: The Spider's outfits with the underwear on the outside were created as an homage to A Clockwork Orange.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Inspirational white trash masterpiece!!!!!

Author: youngvagabond from United States
16 February 2005

This film could change your life. A friend introduced me to this movie a couple weeks ago, and not a conscious hour has gone by that I have not thought of it. If this seems remotely like your type of film (low-budget action gore) then you MUST see this. It immediately became one of my all time favorites. The cover does not do it justice. Think 'Mad Max' meets 'Polyester' meets 'Cannibal Apocalypse'... and you're sort of on the right track. Really, it's like nothing you've ever seen. I have never reviewed any films on IMDb before, with this movie I felt I had no other choice but to shout it's praises to anyone who will listen. It deserves to be legendary. Prepare to have your mind blown away.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Deadbeat at Dawn, Noon and Dusk.

Author: ElijahCSkuggs from Happy Land, who lives in a Gumdrop House on Lolly Pop Lane
22 January 2009

I wasn't really looking for this movie in the terms of it being a really good independent film. I was looking at a pal's list of movies and I noticed the word "Deadbeat". I don't know what it is but the word Deadbeat just works. So, I told him to make me a copy. He then tells me that it's a pretty sweet independent film with some serious violence. Wahoo!

Deadbeat At Dawn is a very gritty picture that tells the tale of Goose and his story of vengeance on his ex-rival gang the Spiders. I could go deeper into the story-line of why he's seeking revenge but that's kinda ruining the story for you.

I was pleasantly surprised with this one. At first I was kinda wary, but with the over-the-top acting and violence, I was easily swayed into enjoying it. The film more than anything is very gritty. Filthy feeling. And actually kind of feels like the movie Street Trash in this way. Going back to the acting, I was happy with how most of the characters were portrayed, and you should be too if you're even slightly into exploitation movies of the 70s and 80s. Oh, it was also pretty funny too.

Deadbeat At Dawn was a pretty entertaining flick that delivered the goods in terms of a rough and tough gang flick mixed with 80s charm - our lead character is ace with ninja stars and nunchuks. Tie in an awesomely violent ending, you've got yourself 80 minutes of pure exploitation goodness.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Decent Late 80's U.S. Exploit Film

Author: EVOL666 from St. John's Abortion Clinic
26 January 2006

I see that this film seems to have many hard-core supporters, and although I liked it well enough, I was a little disappointed after actually seeing it. Not that DEADBEAT AT DAWN was a bad film by any means...It just didn't quite live up to what I thought it would...

Goose is the leader of a gang who's ready to quit the life and settle with his girlfriend. Other gang members don't find this acceptable, and end up killing Goose's girlfriend. Of course this doesn't sit well with our protagonist and revenge is sweet...sorta...

For a low-budget film, this one is pretty good. A good amount of violence and a decent straight-forward plot (along with Goose's AWESOME nunchaku skills...) make up for mediocre acting and dialog (and the plethora of horrible mullets and other hair-style infringements...). Overall, I would recommend this for anyone who digs gritty, exploit-style films as this one DOES deliver. The last fight scene is worth the wait. Worth a look, just don't expect TOO much...7/10

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It's funny when you're too close to the screen......

Author: NoFleshShallBeSpared from Seattle, WA
2 March 2014

My return to the world of movie critique has put me at 10 years of life experience to where I have to be as objective as possible when reviewing things. I state this because I had the dubious honor of personally meeting Jim Van Bebber during a screening of this movie. As much as I hope for more from his particular flavor of cinema, I still didn't get to tell him that I think this movie is downright the best piece he ever made. This is his heart and soul, readers.

I've seen just about everything JVB has made, but the perfect storm energies and circumstances that made this movie are still something that's evident to cinephiles and the like. I can't say it's sheer brilliance (this is style, not substance {Oh, the 80's}, and I don't think that JVB is big on messages anyhow), but I'm hard pressed to find anything as endearing by him as this movie.

Gutterpunk culture abounds, JVB's love of Dayton's microcosmic abysmal atmosphere of a bankrupt rust-belt town that's falling apart at the mid-line, and you get Deadbeat at Dawn. Very precise scheduling and editing, (it's what ya gotta do if you have no budget for film and man-hours) give this a somewhat frenzied pace, as well a feeling of Goose as kind of a mythological character consecrated to the street life. The soundtrack and dialogue keep the tension to a steady hum until the end sequence.

The story is basic, simple chop-socky territory, but you be hard-pressed to find as stylish as this as far martial-arts flicks go. All the character development is beautiful in that is serves to paint a very dismal world where everyone (even the well-off ones we don't see in the movie that often), has that next moment to live for and nothing else. You have drugs everywhere, you have an indifferent and ignorant populace, you have gangs armed with no real direction and all the trappings of a late 80's Midwestern society sharpened to a point. I always liked the martial arts sequences in this one, JVB studied Benny The Jet and it shows.

The odd thoughtfulness of Deadbeat At Dawn give it the heart it has, you see scenes of how violence can drive one to insanity at rationalizing indifference to it's nature. You see someone who had to fight for literally everything in his life and how it would just keep him spinning his wheels faster than everyone else until he couldn't stop. You see fleeting glory and permanent indolence. It's gritty to the core and that's why I love it. ****1/2

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