Just Before Dawn
Time for another highly-specific theme month: 1981 Slasher Films!
We start off the series with a film that has been touted by some as “one of the long forgotten slashers of the 80’s”. Is it? Well, it’s certainly been forgotten. But let’s dive deep to see if it’s worth rediscovering, and find out what happens when a bunch of kids camp in the woods in the midst of a bunch of backwater yokels….
Just Before Dawn (1981)
Episode #304, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw
Todd: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Two Guys and a Chainsaw. I’m Todd.
Craig: And I’m Craig.
Todd: Well, it has been a while, Craig, since we’ve done a theme month, I dunno. We have like a whole bunch of ideas for theme months floating out there. Yeah. Ideas that our patrons have given us ideas we’ve had literally for years mm-hmm but um, I was out looking at things research.
I dunno. I went down some rabbit hole on IMD. and I think it was related to one of the actors that we had seen in one of our other movies. And I’d booked marked this movie called Just Until Dawn. That was directed by a guy named Jeff Lieberman, Uhhuh . And earlier on in our podcast, one of the first episodes we did was a movie called Satan’s little helper.
Oh yeah. He wrote and directed. And I remember thinking, yeah, I remembered you particularly well, you recommended it because you really liked it. Uhhuh . We thought it was quirky. We thought it was kind of fun. It was an odd little movie I got to looking. And this movie just before Dawn from 1981 popped up directed by and.
Co-written by Jeff Lieberman and all of the reviews that I had seen online talked about how this is kind of like a hidden gem, kind of an underappreciated slasher from the era of the slashers. And, uh, I got interested in it. I thought, well, we should see this. So I acquired the movie and then I was just looking around and I was like 1981.
Wow. That was a year. For slashers. And I just looked at a list of slashers from 1981 and not only were there like four or five movies that I’ve had in my mind for us to do, but also a bunch of movies we’ve already done that we, that we really enjoyed. Like, for example, my bloody Valentine, 1981, Friday, the 13th part 2 19 81 evil speak the burning.
These are just slasher movies that we’ve done, student bodies, uh, which is a comedy and mm-hmm graduation day. Even a couple that we didn’t care for, like home sweet home with the body by Jake guy. oh yeah. remember. Remember that stupid one. Yeah, don’t go into the woods, which. I still terrible maintained to this day is one of the worst, most boring, horrible movies we’ve ever seen.
and then like, even if you go beyond slashers, there’s like galaxy of TA or we did dead and buried and we did cannibal PHX, which we didn’t really like. No, and there’s a list of them, the evil dead, 1981, an American werewolf in London, the Halloween. Wow. Like huge movies, Halloween two. It just seems like this was almost the crest of an earlier phase of the slasher before it was started to kind of peak around that time.
Maybe a couple years later with some of the more nightmare Elm street and Friday the 13th movies. And then about mid to late eighties, just kind of dropped off until we got the scream series in the nineties to sort of revive it in an ironic way. But I thought, why don’t we pay tribute to this year, 1981.
With a month of movies, because there were at least four other films that I also wanted to see you said,
Craig: okay. Yeah. Why, why not?
Todd: I’m not, I, this as random as any other decision that we make, right. and you’re always game for everything until we actually do it. And then you blame me for it later, which is fair.
So I, I, I listed out about four movies that I thought we could do this month. And you said, let’s do it. And, uh, we talked a little bit more in detail about the movies and things on a special mini so that we did for our patrons on the Patreon page. Um, so we’re not gonna go into all the background and kind of talk about our reminisce of those movies.
I listed off as well as some of the other movies from this era. If you want to access that, uh, please become a patron, go to patreon.com. Subscribe to our page anyway. We kicked it off with this movie just before Don George Kennedy’s in it. Right.
Craig: I know he’s,
Todd: he’s such a iconic actor. He was one of the, the old man in the old wooden head episode of creep show too.
He looks about the same. And so I thought, okay, well, this should be really interest. And the reviews I was reading from people online were all kind of along the same lines. Oh, this is like a must see for slasher fans from this era. And this is sort of a hidden gem and I don’t really wanna show my cards right off the bat, but I thought it was boring as
Craig: It was okay.
Todd: Like, I don’t know. An hour and a half of this. Well,
Craig: first of all, where you find these movies is kind of a, don’t ask, don’t tell a kind of situation for me. I, I, I don’t wanna know I don’t wanna be implicated in any of that. Um, I just click on the link that you send me. But I think that we ended up watching the longest cut that is available of this movie, which is about an hour 45.
Um, I think that the theatrical cut is, uh, just one 30 and, you know, I appreciate seeing directors cuts and whatnot. I don’t think that they’re always necessary. And I think that this is one of those instances where it’s really not necessary. You can, you can tell easily. What bits of the movie were restored because the film quality is terrible.
Yeah. Um, just, just really, really bad. And in my opinion, didn’t really add anything except for maybe a little bit of plot clarity, but that’s not really even all that necessary. It’s there are a couple very, very small, unique things about the movie other than. it’s a bunch of kids go into the woods and get picked off by a Woodland killer.
Like that. That’s it. that? That’s all she wrote
Todd: folks. Well, it’s a, there’s a minor twist in there. Um, yeah, that, that’s what I’m
Craig: saying. There, there. There, there is the, the minor twist, which is projected a hundred miles away mm-hmm and then there is a kill at the very end that I thought was really awesome.
One. Mm. Other than that, it draws a lot of comparisons to the Hills have eyes and the Texas chainsaw mask are only. It’s taking these suburbanite, presumably white folks and throwing them into an environment that they are unprepared for. And then just, you know, getting them picked off by the locals. Yeah.
I mean, it’s, it’s a very, very simple formula. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Todd: No, there’s nothing wrong with that. And we’ve seen decent movies, you know, that did this. Right. Um, and this. It’s not, don’t go into the woods. That’s for sure. In fact, it’s not that bad. No, I would certainly say that when it started out, I was kind of into it because I thought that especially early on some of the cinematography was rather inspired and I thought impressive for such a low budget film right off the bat, you know, it shows.
Pictures of these beautiful mountains. I think it’s in Oregon is where it was shot. And there’s like some interesting cinematography where the camera takes us in through a hole in the roof of what looks like a cabin, but it ends up being like this church, this very simple church out in the middle, literally in the middle of the woods.
And two guys drinking inside there. And. One’s looking at the other and they’re raising their glass to God and they’re kind of making jokes and all this stuff. And one guy sees somebody looking in that hole as he raises his glass. And then immediately it cuts to these kids driving down. The highway in a camper, this is like the setup to so many movies we’ve
Yeah. And, and I, I, I will give it credit. There were the cinematography, like you said, there’s some beautiful nature cinematography. I mean, it is a, a beautiful setting. The, the, the mountain setting is, is very beautiful. Um, and there were some really creepy moments, you know, one of those drunk hunters looking up to the roof and just seeing this.
Big menacing, weird looking guy, looking down on them. And then it cuts away while he tries to get his friend’s attention. And by the time he gets his friend’s attention, that guy is gone. Like that was kind of spooky. Like I was like, Ugh. who is that freak? And there a couple of other places in the movie where I’ve.
Found it to be genuinely kind of creepy and you know, you say, oh, okay, well, you know, they see this guy and then it cuts away. No, there’s like a whole action set piece where the guy who saw the creepy guy in the roof goes outside, like presumably to look around and they’re and their truck mysteriously.
Down the hill hits a tree and explodes, and then the guy that’s still in the church gets brutally killed, brutally
Todd: killed. Oh, I jumped ahead in my notes
Craig: with the machete through the Wiener.
Todd: yeah. And that was that wasn’t bad, actually. You know, you see the machete come out. His butt, his butt
there’s some blood, there’s a maniacal laugh. And that dude takes his, his orange hat and puts it on and stands in the doorway so that his drunk friend, who’s quite a ways away in, deeper into the woods can see him. And he kind of runs off you’re right. I, I think I jumped ahead to my notes.
Craig: I kind of like, I I’d never really, I don’t know.
I’ve probably seen it before, but I don’t know that there was ever stab in the yeah, like, like through the crotch out the butt. Um, and of course, you know, in varying releases and varying parts of the world, that was one of the first things that got cut. Um, but uh, I thought, damn what a terrible way to go, cuz then you.
Not only would that just be a nightmare? Like, like that’s the worst, you know, like I’d almost, I’d almost rather take it in the eye than in the Wiener. and then you’re just gonna have to like, like slowly bleed to death with a big knife in your Wiener. That’d be horrible.
Todd: Would be, I don’t even know what that would feel like.
Cuz that’s gotta go through bone to get out the back, right. Oh, oh geez. Oh, terrible. So, okay, so you’re right. So it kind of starts off with a bit of a bang and the truck explodes when it hits the tree and all that stuff, cuz cars are supposed to do in movies. And then there’re just these five, five friends driving down a camper down the road.
I mean, again, this is. It’s a typical opening for a slasher film. Yeah. And there are these great shots of the road. And by the way, I want this camper. It is yeah, big. It’s nice. It’s got loads of windows and that windshield like pretty much wraps around the front and the sides. My God, you, they must have felt like champions riding down for the wisdom.
That thing it was really, really nice. as a guy who went around in a much shitier camper with his family growing up , but we are introduced to these friends. There’s Warren who’s guy, who’s Dr. Drinking and driving down the road,
Craig: but he’s kind of the hunky one mm-hmm and kind of like, he’s kind of established as like the Eagle scout.
Like that’s what they keep calling him. Like he’s the one that knows about camping and stuff.
Todd: and also he’s one of the more. Successful actors in this, in this production. I mean, he’s, um, his name is Greg Henry. Um, he has like 178 credits to his name. He’s still working today. He’s he was in. Guardians of the galaxy Jason born.
Oh, wow. Loads of TV, ER, and, and Gilmore girls and 24 star Trek enterprise. Just you name a TV show. I think this guy’s been in at least one episode of it, uh, you know, all the way back to like. Murder. She wrote it. Wasn’t the first thing he’s done, but it’s one of the first things that he did everything before that was either a TV movie or a TV series.
And there were just about a half a dozen of them. His career exploded after this. And I would say he’s one of the strongest actors in here.
Craig: I think he’s fine. I mean, they’re not given a whole lot to do. Um, I didn’t, I didn’t look any of them up because I didn’t recognize anybody. I just assumed you just assumed they were nobody’s.
Todd: No, actually quite a few of ’em have gone on, well, obviously George Kennedy, who will get to in a second. Right. But he’s the, I, I know him. Sure. Yeah. He’s the dude who warns
Craig: them all. He’s yeah. He’s the local who warns them not to go up there. I mean, it’s paint by numbers. I mean, if you were teaching a class on slasher movies, you could use this as an example of the formula.
I mean, it just follows it to
Todd: a T, which is charming, you know? I mean, we kinda like that too, when things do sort of follow. Formula. And we can talk about it. We can laugh at it, but we also know what to expect.
Craig: Yeah. But I, I, there are ti you know, there are times when we do, we watch these things and like, we get excited when they meet mm-hmm the, the local who we know is going to be the one to warn them off.
Todd: usually like, Played up, you know, and right. And like it’s really suspenseful.
Craig: Well, or they go over the top with the camp, you know, it’s a very tongue in cheek. We know what we’re doing, kind of thing. Mm-hmm um, and this is just played very straightforward, which is totally fair. This is early, you know, like, yeah.
As we talked about before, you know, it’s not like this is, you know, the first slasher, obviously with Halloween and Friday the 13th and, and even. We talked about in the mini. So the Diallo genre really kind of was a precursor to these things. So it’s not like we had never seen these before, but they were new enough that the formula was still kind of fresh.
Mm-hmm . Today. It, it it’s, it’s so established that we see it in parody. We see it in spoof, you know, we, we expect it. Um, so I don’t know. Had I seen this movie when it first came out, maybe these things wouldn’t have stood out to me. I also think that this movie had it gotten studio backing. It could have potentially done just as well as any of the others.
You know, it’s not. Any better or worse necessarily than those early Friday, the 13th movies, it just didn’t have the same kind of backing and
Todd: support. I think that’s true to an extent. And apparently universal was interested in distributing this, but they eventually pulled out and it did get some distribution and some regional movie theaters across the country and stuff.
And apparently it. The reviews were kind to it. I think not overly kind raving about it, but they initially weren’t terribly bad. And I think part of that is O to the fact that. It’s played rather sincerely. And it’s not really played with heightened suspense. The one thing I will say, the movie really has going for it.
And it hearkens even back to the scene where we’re talking about, you know, where they encounter this old man. I, they, you know, they, they, they hit a deer. Or they think they hit a deer pull over and go back and look for it. They run up on this house where, like you said, the dude from creep show . His name is Roy, uh, is, uh, he’s got a white horse and he’s gardening potted plants in his house and he warns them.
I guess you’re looking to find your way out of here. No, sir. We’re doing just fine. We’re going up the mountain to do some camping. only a fool would do that. Well, we got five of ’em in. But there’s no campsite up there, especially with ladies along. Oh, we
Craig: don’t have to worry with a big, strong forest ranger to protect this.
Todd: Yeah. Well, I can’t let you go up, sir. Hold on, hold on a second. I see the boy, here’s a land bear and we’re going up to look
Craig: over the back 40. That
Todd: de don’t mean nothing. That mountain can’t. Well, you know, he is the warning guy, but it’s not, like we said, it’s not really heightened. He’s just sort of, matter-of-factly telling him this and is kind of like, well, I mean, it’s kind of your funeral and they’re kind of like, ah, that’s okay, we’re gonna go anyway.
There’s no musical cues. There’s nothing like that. And I think the whole movie is kind of like this, the music is rather sparse. There isn’t a lot of intensity. It almost feels like in some ways a documentary crew following these people around the woods, kinda. There’s a lot of. Them hiking and through beautiful environments under waterfall.
Yeah. Swimming and water, but it’s like a good 40 or 45 minutes after that first kill that we really see anything well, like another kill or any, any action. Really? Like actually I think most of the kills happen in the last 20 or 30 minutes of the movie really it’s
Craig: late and it takes its time, but you know, it really does.
The reason that they’re going there is apparently, uh, Warren’s dad has bought some property on the mountain and I guess they’re just kind of going to scope it out, which they tell Roy, but then he says, okay, well, where are you gonna be? So when you don’t come back, at least I know we’re a look for you and they tell him a place, but it’s not where they’re really going.
Which, which they comment on later. Ultimately it doesn’t really make all that big a difference, but like, oh yeah, I guess that was stupid. We should have told him really where we were gonna be, but, uh, as they’re headed up after they cross Roy and they’re headed up, then they come across the other drunk hunter who is still wandering around the mountain and still drunk and still drinking.
And, uh, he says that there are, there’s a demon after him and it’s gonna kill him. And he begs them to take him down the mountain and, and they very kind of callously leave him there. Like, yeah, this guy clearly.
Todd: Needs help in some way,
Craig: right? Maybe he’s just drunk, but still needs help, but they just toss a couple sandwiches out the window and keep going.
But, um, then as the hunter looks on and as they drive away, the killer jumps out of the woods onto the back of the
Todd: camper, completely unnoticed by the people inside the camper.
Craig: Completely Unno. Because one of the girls, Megan, the brunette of the two girls, the other is Connie. She’s the good girl. I mean like the second you see her, you know, she’s the final girl and she is.
Mm. And, and Megan is, uh, you know, the Wilder curly haired brunette one. But like she has just right before this guy jumps onto the camper, she has just adjusted the rear view mirror to do her makeup and Warren who’s. Driving’s like, Hey, I need that for driving. And, and she’s like, why there’s no traffic up here.
So like he does, he can’t even see it in the rear view mirror. I mean, they’re a. Kind of clever things going on there, but just seeing this guy kind of crawling around in the, on the back with this huge back window, but none of them noticing, and there’s another gag where when they do finally park one of the other guys, Daniel who’s like the nerdy photographer one, he forgets his sunglasses on the camper and has to go back on to get him.
And when he goes back on to get him, you see the killer lower the upper half of his body down to look in the window, but Daniel doesn’t see him. There were little moments like that, that I thought were creepy, but they didn’t like blow me away. It’s not, I was like, Ooh, this is so scary. Like they, yeah, they were just moments of okay.
Todd: yeah, exactly. That’s the best way to put it. They were moments of okay. and, and I mean, part of the problem is. Well once of, first of all, I, I don’t mind that there are no musical cues, but it was, it was very definitely missing. And I think it would’ve added something to the movie. If there had been a little bit of that,
Craig: I agree with you, but I did kind of appreciate the sound design because there’s a lot of nature sound.
Hmm. That’s true. And, uh, There there’s lots of, you know, the sounds of the forest, which is a lot of like insects and crickets and things. Um, but anytime anybody is about to appear from out of the woods, the insect sounds quiet or go away entirely, which is smart. Well, you know, somewhat true to life mm-hmm and it’s very subtle.
And to I’d be lying if I said, I really even noticed I read about it, but then when I was thinking about it, I was like, oh yeah, that, that did happen. In fact, I read about it while I was still watching the movie because I put this off until the very last minute. So I was watching and researching at the same time.
So I, so I read that bit. Fun fact. And then I was watching, I was like, oh yeah. they did do that. that’s
Todd: hilarious. Well, while they’re walking through, I just, again, I kind of fell in love with it cuz it’s still early enough in the movie and there’s a little bit of the drama with the guy kind of poking around the, the trees and they’re they look around, they see something in the bushes, but it kind of disappears and it’s this dude.
Um, but it like the setting was just gorgeous and I thought I wanna be on this camping. Because they’re hiking at just these insane scenes they’re walking under on, on these rocks, underneath a waterfall. Um, yeah. And then they set up a camp in just this random, beautiful area. You know, it’s not like a proper campsite and
Craig: built camp fire, but it definitely looked like somewhere where you could go.
Mm-hmm like when they. The waterfall. It very much looks like a natural place that has been, oh God, I don’t know what the
Todd: accommodated for. Yeah. For people like groomed and yeah. For people,
Craig: of course. Right, right. It, I mean, and it doesn’t take away from its beauty. It’s a very beautiful waterfall. But especially when they’re walking down underneath it, it looks very much kind of like a manmade trail there.
Yeah. And, and when they’re. To their camp, it looks like they’re walking on trails. It doesn’t look like they’re just, traing through the woods.
Todd: It’s like a national park, state park or state park type atmosphere. Well, while they’re at the camp and they set it up and it’s nighttime Warren and Jonathan run back off to get
I, yeah, I didn’t get that. Like, why didn’t they just bring it’s so weird. Did, did they go back to the camper?
Todd: I’m pretty sure they went back to the
Craig: camper. They went back to get like the booze or something, right? Yeah. Yeah. Like why didn’t they,
Todd: why just bring it, why with them and it kind of kills and they do this multiple times and it just sort of kills.
Well, first of all, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. And the second of all, like. You wanna get this impression that they’ve hiked like all morning or all afternoon out to this place, deep in the woods. But if these guys can just run back to the camper and be back in a couple hours, doesn’t feel the same way.
And like you said, they just go to get booze and they come back with a couple bottles of wine and the girls, the guy says. This is all, we got someone broke into the camper and stole the rest of the food as though it worked no big deal. right. I’m like, what don’t you think you’d be a little more upset?
Craig: and the hunter guy already told him that told them that he was being pursued by demons. Like now. Yeah, that sounds crazy. But that. On top of somebody breaking into your camper. You’re clearly not alone out there.
Todd: And they’re just like, ah, oh, well this is all we have. Cuz somebody broke into it for some food, whatever it, it provides a, a reason for them to kind of be spooked.
And who is it? Why aren’t they back yet? You know, kind of suspense. And then the guys leap out of the bushes, you know, to surprise them. And it’s again, very typical stuff. And then it’s morning. So when the movie is. Just before Dawn. I expected the movie to take place overnight. Yeah. Right. And the movie actually takes place over like multiple nights.
So. that was the first surprise. And Connie’s upset because of, you know, the, she kept seeing things across the night, bothered her and the talk about the demon and she was frightened and did nothing while Melanie right. Actually grabbed a knife and kind of went out to look. And so she’s talking with Warren and I liked this little bit of relationship.
This is what I, I was trying to say earlier is. I felt that the, there was a bit of realism to this movie. Yeah. Like these are just normal people who are out camping and their dialogue seemed pretty genuine. And I thought their acting was just fine and everything was just not as dramatic as it tends to be, which.
Which I found again, it was, it made it give it a little bit of a documentary, feels a little refreshing, whether it was intentional or, or not, or however it did, it does have this. I was thinking, well, they’re doing a really great job of setting this up for the tension that’s going to come because, you know, whatever killer comes out and starts really stabbing and.
Picking people off, it’s gonna be in stark contrast, you know, to the reality and everything of this. But you know, they go hiking some more. They hear the sounds of a woman singing and, and they find this young girl who looks like she’s got some makeup smeared under her eyes, and she’s scared by them. And they call out to her, but she just sort of runs off into the woods and they Warren comments like, uh, or somebody comments to Warren.
Isn’t this, are we still on your dad’s property? And he is like, yeah. So what are these people doing out here? And then they go across an awesome rope bridge. Yeah. It’s one of those where it’s like a single rope across, but then two ropes as road rails. Yeah. Right. And again, like in a better movie. , it was a little better structure.
This would be your moment to sort of set up the danger. Yeah. That they’re going to have to later come to you’d be be going across this rope bridge, but it would be a bit of a struggle. It might be a little dangerous. Maybe somebody slips or something’s coming loose or whatever. And so that when we revisit the rope bridge later, it’s been established at, on its own.
This rope bridge is treacherous, but you know, they just go across. And it’s pretty. It is.
Craig: I would’ve been too scared to do it, but I, I saw a, uh, I think it was French, a, a foreign horror film that was very much like this with people hiking in the mountains. And mm-hmm um, there was a, a great big, uh, It actually wasn’t a rope bridge.
It was cable because it was so big mm-hmm um, and, and they were being pursued by like inbred backwards people. So this reminded me of that, obviously this came first, but that the rope bridge seemed very treacherous and I don’t know how. they filmed that I, I kind of just assumed that they just had the actors do it and seems like it again, you know, there, there is, they go over it.
You know, I, I think that Warren and Connie, uh, go over it first and then everybody else kind of goes at the same time, which is dumb, cuz they’re throwing each other off. And somebody almost falls in, but, uh, manages to pull themselves back up. And like, I guess there there’s a part later in the movie, there’s a part where one of the characters, uh, one of the guys, uh, John ends up back on that rope bridge and it ends up.
Getting cut and, and he holds onto it and he tries to climb up and I read that, uh, he did that stunt himself and it was actually very dangerous because that particular waterfall was notorious for people going over it and falling to their death. Yeah. Like,
Todd: yeah. I just pretty nuts,
Craig: nuts. I don’t, I don’t.
Stands the hubris of filmmakers sometimes. And I guess, you know, you gotta have balls to, you know, do something interesting to watch, but I,
Todd: gosh, maybe he had a safety harness or something on him that we couldn’t see or whatever, but he, I hope so. He’s holding onto that bridge when he gets cut. And I mean, there’s a very clear shot of him swinging and hitting that rock and slipping down and everything.
I mean, it’s, I was very impressed with that stunt. When that happened, because it was very clear, the actor was doing it and it did not look. About along the lines of like the Exorcist too, which had a bigger budget and more experienced people on it. Or I
Craig: know that always makes me, I know, I always think of that with that, with her standing at that ledge.
Oh God. Which we came to find out was real and just infuriated both of us, cuz that’s so risky, but you know, we know. There’s some booted figure. Following them, they go swimming. The mountain girl is watching them. There is a cool part where John and Megan who are a couple are swimming and she’s topless.
So you get a little bit of boobies mm-hmm in there and there’s swimming and. Fooling around and he’s messing around with her. Like he pretends to drown at some point, which really isn’t funny. Um, but, uh, don’t do that guys. It’s not funny at all. Mm-hmm and so when he goes underwater again, she thinks that he’s just messing around.
And again, we see the. The camera is, is on her. It’s kind of a wide shot that it’s on her, but we see kind of far in the background, the killer waiting into the water behind her. And again, I just thought that this was a really creepy shot. I don’t know how realistic it is that nobody would’ve seen him.
Yeah. But just her being oblivious to it, as we can clearly see him approaching. And then she thinks that her boyfriend is messing around with her again, as these. Come up and start kind of groping at her. You know, we can see that they’re clearly not her boyfriend’s hand. They’re kind of smeared and dirt.
They’re really big. They’re much larger than her boyfriend’s hands are. And then, so these hands are groping at her and then she turns and sees her boyfriend cl you know, crawling up on the shore. So she freaks out and gets out. But you know, they just write it off. Oh, it must have been a fish or
You’re overreacting and stuff. Yeah. I mean, like you said, it’s a little unrealistic that this guy maned to make it there and slip into the water without them knowing, and then make it all the way over to her standard water. And then what is he trying to do cop a feel? I think he doesn’t surface. And she’s freaking out for a while and they’re all looking at
What is it, honey? Come on, come here. Hey, come on, get outside
I was in the water and I hand and I saw you on the, so the hand wasn’t you. Oh, no, it was me, Jonathan. There’s someone
Todd: in that. What you down, honey, come on, let’s get some coffee. She runs out of the water and like, where did he go? You know, did he, is he a fish? Can he really stay under there that long? ? You know, it just, I mean, it was a cool set piece, but it really stretched the boundaries of.
Believability to a point where I was on like, uh, okay. And by now, also, by the way, we’re 45 in minutes into the movie now. So we are mm-hmm, halfway through. And except for that kill in the beginning, a little bit of creeping around, we haven’t really actually seen anything significant happen yet.
Craig: Not really the, the drunk hunter now stumbles upon Roy’s property and tells him about the mountain man.
And I, Roy just kind of takes it with the grain us all. Okay. Well, I guess we better go check on those kids. Um, and then it’s nighttime again. And, uh, Megan. I don’t know, I have in my notes, Megan, in a fool at dinner, , you know, she’s just, she’s joking around dancing. Right. And then everybody’s dancing and then somebody shoots their boombox and these mountain people come out of the woods and it’s.
A, a father, a mother, and the girl that they have already seen who her name, she gets a name, her name’s Mary cat mm-hmm . But they, the, the mountain people are the dad’s like, you need to get off this land before you’re raised the devil . And like, he just says that twice. And then they turn around and leave.
Yeah. You know, you. Said something about the title? Not really making sense, because you would think that this would be, you know, like peril through the night, you know? Yeah. Like leading up until Dawn. Well, I guess it went through several different titles because it also went through heavy, heavy rewrites, like initially.
These mountain people were supposed to be some sort of like religious sect. Um, and they were all in on it together. And it wa you know, like there were these weird, like snake handling religious ceremonies that they forced these people to, or end endure and stuff. But I guess that the director just found that to be very distasteful.
And, and so God, that would’ve been more
Todd: interesting, it would’ve been more interesting.
Craig: He would. That it would’ve been more interesting, but they, they just, uh, rewrote it and got rid of all those elements. And so it went through a couple of title changes too, and they just landed on this one. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but
Well, I, you know, I was actually getting and part of why, like I said, even for the first bit of the movie, I was still kind of into it, even though I thought the pacing was a little slow. It reminded me a lot of deliverance. Yeah. The writer director actually said inspired him, uh, for this movie. and to the point where I think one of the earlier titles of the movie was gonna be like survivor or something like that.
Oh, funny. Which is hilarious. And it did like have the pacing of deliverance because I would say that, and I’ve, I’ve both read the book and watched the movie. And the thing that’s kind of interesting about deliverance is that it does have this very. Natural feel of these people out on this little adventure, camping in the woods.
Craig: Oh yeah. That’s a fun buddy movie for the first 45 minutes.
Todd: Yeah. And then suddenly it get, takes a very dark turn when they realize they’re in over their heads and they’re encroaching upon the mountain people’s land and these guys come out and then pretty soon they’re fighting for their life. Yeah. And it’s much like this movie.
From, even from that point on when they’re fighting for their life, it’s not like it’s a constant chasing. The enemy is unseen for a lot of it. Like they’re getting like guns shot at them from places where they can’t see it’s quite suspense. It really gives you that notion that they are really in over their heads.
They have no control over the territory. They’re always in the, on the disadvantaged low ground. And they’re these set pieces like interesting things happen. They fall in the water, they’re fighting against the current while these guys are shooting at them. And, and this movie, it felt like it was going for that flavor, but felt very, very short, you know, because there was no like.
Except for that kill at the very beginning of the movie, which has nothing to do with these kids. Mm-hmm there isn’t that instigating incident for a very long time that suddenly makes them realize, oh my God, like we’re in
Craig: peril. Yeah. We still haven’t even gotten to it. I, I mean, the net. The next morning, like Connie wants to leave.
She thinks there’s something weird going on, but they just blow that off. And then some of, uh, the other girl Megan’s makeup has gone missing or something . So, um, John goes to look for it and he find, apparently Mary KA, the mountain girl stole some of it. Cuz she’s got like makeup smeared on her face now mm-hmm
But, but he starts talking to her and she kisses him and runs. And he kind of not chases as in like menacing, but like gives chase, follows
Todd: her, it kind of flirty sort of
Craig: thing. Yeah. It’s well, I mean, he’s got a girlfriend I’m like, what are you doing? Are you gonna bang the mountain girl in the woods? And then just like, pretend nothing thing happened.
And, and, and they get, they get to the rope bridge and she acts like she sees something that freaks her out and kind of hides in the, the brush line. And he thinks that she’s just scared of the bridge. And he is like, no, come on. It’s cool. You know, look just go across it. And, uh, he starts to go across. And as he gets to the end, we see this big killer.
It’s the same killer we’ve been seeing on the whole time. He’s this big guy. He’s, he’s a fat guy. Balding, uh, looks, you know, I don’t know what dorky PC word, I don’t know what the PC word is to use slow, you know? Uh, mm-hmm, simple. Yeah, right? Yeah. But he’s just kind of standing there menacingly. So, uh, John turns around and starts going back the other way, but he, this is the part where the killer cuts the bridge and, and he, and he eventually is able to climb back up the rope.
But as he gets up to the top, mind you, this is on the other side mm-hmm but we just see, we see his. Getting to the top, but at the top we see this boot that just pushes him back in and he falls, um, to his death. Mm-hmm uh, it’s a good stunt. Well, yeah, that the stunt is good. It, it does look good and it is scary.
I’m, I’m terrified of Heights. Uh, and so that kind of thing makes me very nervous. You. Find me anywhere near that bridge. in the best of circumstances. Absolutely not. But then Dan finds the old church and Megan joins him there and Warren catches a fish, like who cares? Uh, and then, so then John’s. Body washes down the river to Warren and Connie and he is dead.
And I think Connie says he was murdered. Wasn’t he? Like, I don’t know, like, like
Todd: he washed
Craig: down the, the river, you don’t know. And Warren’s like, nah, he probably just fell off the bridge.
Todd: and that’s the extent he, he makes it like a small attempted CPR and then, then they move on these people.
Craig: I. This isn’t, this isn’t unique, right?
This is not unique to this movie, but it always, it just throws me that in movies. Yeah. You know, these people come across their dead friends. They’re like, oh no. And then that’s it like back at the campsite. Moving on. Oh God. Dan and Megan are at the church. They’re approached by the killer in a gag like Dan doesn’t have his glasses on and he’s the only one who sees the killer approaching.
And he apparently mistakes this big fat balded guy for his young attract. Brother . And so this, the killer just walks right up to him and, and stabs Dan in the gut, very UN unceremoniously and he’s dead. Yeah. Megan runs into the church where she stumbles upon the dead hunter from the opening scene. And then the big twist is revealed.
She sees the one, the killer outside. Messing with Daniel’s camera, but then she turns around and he’s also standing right in front of her because they’re twins. Yeah. It’s twin killers. And I said earlier that it was totally projected, but then we didn’t talk about it at all. As they’re writing, like through this rural area or whatever, they see these two little twin girls and one of them says, I wonder why there’s so many twins around here.
Todd: I know like, like. Were they riding down the road and there were just pairs of twins standing down the road every half mile waving it’s like seeing dead armadillos by the side of the road in Texas or something like that. Well, deer there surely are a lot of twins out yeah. And, and also it’s. It’s not even a consequential reveal because no, there’s never any moment in this movie where we were like, what, how good the killer have been there?
And there, you know,
Craig: well, how could he have been on both sides of the rope bridge, but like that could have been anybody on the other side. It, we, it was just
Todd: a, I was con. I was confused by the camera work. Yeah. I, I wasn’t sure, you know, if they were actually two, it, well, it could
Craig: have, well, because they show like, as soon as the one guy cuts the bridge, they show him really quick runoff.
Like, so I suppose maybe he could have like run other side
Todd: round. I mean, that was kind of what I assumed, right. Was, oh, he ran around to the other side or it’s just, you know, kind of dumb filmmaking where now the killer. Immediately somewhere where he needs to be. Yeah. You know, like
Craig: Jason or, I mean, we know that there’s other people out there.
It could have just as easily been the dad that we saw before, who knows mm-hmm , that’s true. And who amongst these mountain people are killers.
Todd: And then Warren and Connie go back to the campsite and they’re calling for everyone and they kind of go back to the church and prowl around there. And then the old man pops back out with his rifle and his.
With the little girl watching from inside,
Craig: you keep calling her a little girl. I think she’s about their age. She’s about the same age. Yeah, you’re
Todd: probably right. You’re probably right. And he’s a, and, and they ask him, what did you mean by raising the devil and they’ll hold man says. Uh, I don’t know nothing about that.
I told you to SDU to ska do.
Craig: He says that several times
Todd: he says that a lot and then they just leave again, like they, and go back to
Craig: camp and just hang out,
Todd: like, okay. They just kinda walk away from these two. Like, what are we supposed to think about this old man? Who’s always got his rifle with him out there with his daughter and wife.
Like, are we, are they supposed to be menacing? Are we supposed to think they’re in on it? He doesn’t do anything except tell him to SDU and then they just gotta walk off. I don’t know.
Craig: Did you read the Wikipedia
Todd: page? I did. Um, did you,
Craig: did you read the plot synopsis because there were details in the plot synopsis that were not in the movie?
Todd: Oh, no, I didn’t. Read the plots synopsis I skipped right over. What did they say in there? Say
Craig: it says that like, in this part it’s revealed that the, these two twins were born of the dad. What? The dad had a wife and they had these twins. And then also a daughter and then the twins killed the God. I don’t remember, but it had, it was all about inbreeding.
It, it, something that was never mentioned really here at all, or, or maybe the twins were a result. I, I, I think that the daughter that we see is supposed to be like her mother is also her sister. Oh, none of this happens in the movie. I have no idea where they got this from in the plots. Unless there is another cut of the movie that we didn’t see.
I, I don’t know,
Todd: but a shorter cut of the movie that is not the, the 15 minutes longer cut that we have that somehow chose to cut out this very important information. And actually, I wouldn’t say it’s very important. I mean, it would be backstory, but again, it’s not like that would be a big revelation cuz who care.
Craig: Right. Well, Roy does eventually Roy, the forest, uh, ranger or whatever, um, shows up and visits the Logan cabin and asks them about the campers. And they’re like, we’ve not seen anybody. And when he walks away, he, God, he says something like keep breeding in the same family for long. Something’s bound to snap.
So like it’s suggested mm-hmm , but we don’t get, you know, that kind of detail, but huh. Mar Mary KA does admit that they, she knows where the campers are and she, uh, chases him into the woods and offers to take him to the camp, which, you know, again, Connie and. Warren are just hanging out. Like, yeah. I mean, I, I guess they’re waiting for Daniel and Melanie, I guess, even though Connie, she’s like, they’re dead and he’s like, no, they’re not dead.
They’ll show up. Um,
Todd: yeah. And then forget about our friend. Who’s actually dead. ,
Craig: who’s actually dead. I mean, whatever he, who cares. Um, but then the killer does, uh, approach them and, and shows himself and, and chases. Them? No, he goes off first. For some reason he has to go
Todd: and he takes his whistle. and he’s like, in case I get lost, you listen for it.
Craig: that he leaves is because, uh, John had the keys to the camper. Yeah. So he has to go back to John’s body to get the keys to the camper. So they’re split up, which is, and he leaves
Todd: her there. Yeah. Yeah. It’s like, you just stay here in case anybody comes back as important as somebody’s here. I’m like, no, it’s not.
They know where the camp is. They can hang out there and wait for you. Why would you leave this girl by herself? Go fire. But he takes a whistle. And in case he gets lost, she’s supposed to listen for it. It becomes a motif in the, the score at times. I, I thought this was, again, it was just kind of showed how this, this director, I just don’t think he’s at least at this time in his career, very good at building suspense and pacing things out and framing stuff.
Warren walks up on the banks of the river with his lantern that he has. And it’s kind of a day for night scene. Yeah. He sweeps the lantern over. In a really cool shot. Like we see as he sweeps the lantern to his left, it illuminates the tree that is just behind him to his left. And is it Jonathan? No. Is, uh, it is, no, it is it’s.
John is leaned up against the tree with his. Sunglasses on. And I think we’re, I mean, we can obviously see he’s
Craig: dead. Well, I mean, that’s, that’s not where they left him, but this scene would’ve been a lot scarier and more effective. If we didn’t already know he was dead. Exactly. He’s been dead for a long time and they’ve already found his body.
I mean, I, I, granted it is a cool shot. It’s a cool revelation as he moves
Todd: the first time, it’s a cool shot, but then he does this two more times. Yeah, he, he sweeps it over again and we see it again, back there, and then he sweeps it to the right again. I’m like, dude, are you gonna look around or are you just standing in one place sweeping the Lanter left and right.
Then he sweeps it again. And finally he turns around and he sees him and I’m like, man, that just sucked. All of the tension and energy completely out of that scene. Mm-hmm
Craig: well, then I don’t know. I don’t know if I missed something, but I Connie hears the whistle in the woods and she thinks it’s her boyfriend, but it’s not.
It’s the killer. How did the killer get the
Todd: whistle? I don’t know. Do you have his own whistle or something? I
Craig: don’t know, whatever he chases her. She climbs a tree, like, like she’s, I don’t know, running away from a bear. I don’t know. She climbs a tree and he starts hacking at it with his machete. Warren meets up with Roy and Mary KA in the woods.
The killer does chop down her
Todd: tree, which was another kind of impressive stunt because it, I mean, Got her arms around this tree and in one shot, that whole thing falls down with her on it. When they hit the ground, you know, she jumps up and runs away from it. I mean, it’s, it’s the actress. I was like, God, that also looked like a very dangerous stunt.
Craig: did, it was shot kind of from afar so that easily could have been a stunt person. I don’t know if it was, but it could have been. It could a been the killer then is just like tormenting Connie with the whistle. Like it’s so
Todd: dumb. Yeah. He’s like lumbering after her almost slapping her with his, with his knife every now and then when he gets close it’s so it’s not at all menacing.
Craig: no, it’s, it’s not menacing at all. And then out of nowhere, it’s. The last minute, Roy just shoots him dead. Yeah. And then, and then Roy tells, he’s like to Warren and Connie, he’s like, okay, well you better get outta here. And, and then I don’t understand this at all. He tells them to leave and then they’re just back at camp by themselves.
And she puts on a full face of. Yeah, why I know
Todd: I was waiting for fuck. I was waiting for there to be some significance to this. Like she crawls out of the tent and it’s kind of behind him and he stands up and he says, Connie, are you alright? And, and he says, oh, it looks like you printed yourself up. You got your makeup on.
And she’s like, well, you never know who you might run into up. and then that’s it
Craig: but the, yeah, it makes absolutely no sense. First of all, why are you still there? Get the outta there. Secondly, what are you doing? Yeah. Uh, but the, the other twins shows up and stabs Warren non fatally, and then he lays there like a pussy for the next five.
Todd: Yeah, just looking in horror, clearly able to do something, but does absolutely nothing to, uh,
Craig: meanwhile Connie jumps on the guy, like a fricking spider monkey and it’s like, like pounding on him and, and fighting him.
And he, like, I think is trying to squeeze her to death to the, to the extent that like blood starts coming out of her mouth. And Warren is just laying there watching, like doing nothing. He does not seem really disabled at all. Now, granted, he got stabbed a little bit, but it did not seem to be like a fatal blow.
Like he just kind of got cut mm-hmm . Um, but he is just laying there watching, and then this, she, she somehow gets turned around, so she’s facing him and she takes her hand and shoves her arm.
Todd: She. It’s his mouth ,
Craig: uh, like elbow, elbow deep into his mouth and, uh, and, and, and chokes him to death. And that looked badass.
Todd: Yeah. Yeah. I guess it did. I, I mean, I, I think I read that Jeff Lieberman wanted a kill that he had never seen before. And that’s what he came up with is somebody. Choking somebody with their arm down their throat. And. It did look good. I guess it would do the job if you could actually physically make that happen.
right. That might be a little different, but yeah, she chokes him to death and then, uh, that’s that’s the end, right? It goes to six in the woods,
Craig: Mary KA, the forest girl, like runs out and looks at them and then turns her out and runs away. Mm-hmm and then Warren falls to his knees in front of Connie and Wes
And then it cuts to the credits over the sun or sunset. And, and that’s the end, you know, I don’t know, as I was watching this, I just kept thinking it’s, it’s really not that bad. Like, as, as far as slashers of this era go, it’s kind of AP, you know, it’s, it’s not particularly distinctive in any way really.
Mm-hmm I mean, There’s kind of the twin twist, I guess. Um, but other than that, it’s just a backwards killer in the woods, killing a bunch of white kids. I, I, I’m not, I’m not gonna be too hard on it because it’s fairly competent when compared to the other ones that we still are talking about 30, 40, about how bad they are.
So yeah, well, some of ’em, but some of them not, I mean, oh yeah, like Friday the 13th or something like that, I. Said over and over again. I am a fan of the Friday, the 13th franchise. I think they’re fun movies. I don’t think they’re particularly good
Todd: movies. No, but they’re fun. They’re more fun than this movie because at least, you know, if the acting is silly and the plots are the same and it’s the same thing over and over again, at least there is suspense.
Like whoever is directing those from episode to episode, if I’m not mistaken, every single one of them does a decent, competent job of building some suspense. And here, like not only. Is it really hard for me to feel anything for these people, because the killers just come outta nowhere, all of a sudden with no real buildup or motivation yeah.
Or motivation. And when they are on the screen, they just seem like goofy jokey, big guys who are. Like almost clownish. Yeah. Just,
Craig: just randomly killing people for fun. Yeah. It’s
Todd: like, it seems like you could just trip ’em up, you know, and they’d fall down and not be able to get up of their own accord, you know?
Yeah. I mean, it’s just, it’s just silly. And even in the, when they’re in pursuit, like we said, when he’s, when she falls out of the tree and he’s going after, it’s almost laughably, not menacing at all. And so I think that colors, the movie a little. I don’t know. I just, I was, and maybe, you know, if you’re gonna go see this, don’t see that hour and 48 minute version, please see, like the hour and a half version.
There’s a reason why almost, uh, 20 minutes of it were cut and maybe that would’ve helped with the pacing a little bit. but just, you know, I don’t know. It just had all these elements in there, but a lot of them didn’t make sense. The motivations of the characters popping in and out didn’t make sense. I, I really thought the realism there for a while seemed kind of good until everything kind of goes off the rails when they’re not having believable reactions.
So they’re friends getting killed and they’re just hanging around the woods a little more. So I, I’m not gonna be as kind. I’m not gonna be as kind to it, but I’m certainly not gonna say it’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen. And I did think there was some inspired cinematography in here. I did like the setting and that’s about it.
Yeah. And stabbing in the Wiener.
Craig: I wouldn’t warn people away from it. If you wanna see it, watch it, whatever. It’s fine. But you’re, I also wouldn’t like recommend it. You’re really not missing anything. it’s
Todd: not like a long. You know, gem of the slasher era. Like we’ve had a few of those that we were pleasantly surprised at.
This is I was hoping this would be one of them, but it’s definitely not. But anyway, hopefully in, uh, episodes to come, we will get some, uh, three other films from 1981. That will be a little bit. Better. Maybe we’ll find some hidden gems in there, stick around and listen, if you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend.
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I’m Todd. And I’m Craig with Two Guys and a Chainsaw.
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