Film Review: DEADBEAT AT DAWN (1988)

Film Review: DEADBEAT AT DAWN (1988)

Oct 9, 2018

IMDb: Deadbeat at Dawn

Director: Jim Van Bebber

Arrow Video’s upcoming (October 23rd) release of Jim Van Bebber’s Deadbeat at Dawn marks the release of another highly sought after American VHS obscurity. Once again, it makes me happy that I got into the VHS collecting game late and out of it early. I’m becoming convinced that nothing is really OOP and someone will eventually do a release of something you loved on VHS. In the past year Rawhead Rex, Demon Wind, and Deadeat have been released, showing me that I need to just stay patient when it comes to my collecting addiction.

As someone who had never seen this film before receiving the screener, I was pretty excited about seeing an underground classic of which I’ve heard so much about being restored. By the time it was over, I was also pleasantly surprised by the fact that this release contained my favorite set of special features in a long time.

As for the feature, Deadbeat at Dawn is an action-splatter film that uses some awesome old school practical effects. While it isn’t necessarily a gore film, it manages to use a handful extremely memorable gore gags to their maximum effect. Since it is focuses on gang violence, there’s plenty of slashing and splatter; however, I’m telling you, if you haven’t seen it, just wait for the skull in the cemetery and the throat ripping scene…you will not be disappointed.

In the end, the film uses costumes and fight sequences reminiscent of The Warriors, all the while adding in the classic action revenge plot involving the murdered girlfriend. The climax builds to a ridiculously awesome fight sequence, full of interesting editing techniques and hilariously cheesy choreography. By the time it is over, you will know why it has been hailed as an underground classic for years.

Oh but there’s more. The special features on this release are some of my favorite of any Arrow release in a long time. It includes music videos from Pantera and other brutal metal acts. It has a full documentary and crazy intro reel for Chunk Blower. My favorite parts, however, are the short films. Spanning thirty years, the short films from Into the Dark to Gator Green are a treat for the gore fiends in the audience. In fact, I may go as far as saying the short film Roadkill: The Last Days of John Martin was my favorite part of the entire release. It is one of the most fucked up shorts I’ve seen in awhile…and it was made in 1994.