Just Before Dawn (1981)

86m 50s (UK – video (PAL)), 90m 23s (UK – theatrical)
35mm film, colour

An American horror film directed by Jeff Lieberman.

Plot Summary

Five young campers set out on a trip into the to look at a remote cabin they've bought. They ignore the warnings of forest ranger Roy McLean and soon fall foul of a hulking, machete-wielding madman. As their number is whittled away, the survivors come to a horrifying realisation – they may be facing more than one killer…


Director: Jeff Lieberman
Oakland Productions
Executive Producers: Doro Vlado Hreljanovic, V. Paul Hreljanovic
Producers: David Sheldon, Doro Vlado Hreljanovic
Associate Producer: Joseph Middleton
Script: Mark Arywitz, Gregg Irving
Story: Joseph Middleton
Directors of Photography: Joel King, Dean King
Editor: Robert Q. Lovett
Music: Brad Fiedel
Sound: Anthony Santa Croce, Greg Valtierra
Costume Designers: Michele Logan, Ellen Shanahan
Make Up Artist: Kathy Shorkey
Special Make Up Effects: Matthew W. Mungle
Special Effects: John Morello
Art Director: Craig Stearns
Locations: Silver Falls State Park, Silverton, Oregon, USA

George Kennedy (Roy McLean)
Mike Kellin (Ty)
Chris Lemmon (Jonathan)
Gregg Henry (Warren)
Deborah Benson-Wald (Constance)
Ralph Seymour (Daniel)
Katie Powell (Merry Cat Logan)
John Hunsaker (mountain )
Charles Bartlett (Vachel)
Jamie Rose (Megan)
Hap Oslund (Pa Logan)
Barbara Spencer (Ma Logan)

Alternative Titles

Blutige Dämmerung – West German title
Liian myöhään – Finnish title
Survivance – French title
Vor Morgengrauen – West German title

See also
Wrong Turn (2003)


Screen International no.359 (4-11 September 1982) p.20
Another in the Friday the 13th jugular vein, with beautiful young people meeting messy ends in sylvan settings which provide the director with unlimited opportunities for mock shock misleads before the blood starts flowing in earnest. And Jeff Lieberman uses these opportunities well, keeping the suspense going from the very first scene and not cheating too blatantly when the skylarking students frighten each other with thoughtless pranks. It is in the actual killings that he goes to far over the top and topples his otherwise enjoyably scary tale into the mire of nauseating sadism. The murder weapon is a large knife, similar to a butcher's, with a deeply serrated edge. Driven in and the withdrawn, it leaves the victim still alive to die screaming in agony. Not my idea of fun entertainment; it left me feeling sick and depressed and wishing I could blot out the sights and sounds that still linger in my mind. – from a review by Marjorie Bilbow


Is It Uncut? no.5 p.35 – illustrated review
Screen International no.359 (4-11 September 1982) p.20 – credits, review (by Marjorie Bilbow)

The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.351
The Films of the Eighties by Robert A. Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.299
Horror and Science Fiction Films III by Donald C. Willis pp.150-151 – credits
Horror Films of the 1980s by John Kenneth Muir pp.259-260 – credits, synopsis, review
Nightmare USA by Stephen Thrower p.516 – note