Thursday, April 9, 2009

Film Review: DEADBEAT AT DAWN (1988, Jim van Bebber)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 80 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Director, writer, editor, actor, and stuntman, Dayton's own, Jim van Bebber.
Tag-lines: "He quit the gangs. They killed his girl. He became..."
Best one-liner: "If you ever do that again, I'm gonna pull your eyeballs outta your head and eat 'em!"

Damn! This movie is pissed off! It's brutal! It's all about ninja throwing stars and burning mattresses and screaming "You motherfuckers!" to no one in particular. It's the kind of movie that would logically emerge from Dayton-fucking-Ohio during the Reagan era. There's something about the low-rent punk grittiness of truly independent 80's cinema that can't ever really be duplicated.

REPO MAN, STREET TRASH, SUBURBIA, etc.; all of these movies possess a kind of magical, punch-in-the-guts realism that is exceptionally difficult to enumerate, but DEADBEAT AT DAWN surely has it. It's kind of like STRANGER THAN PARADISE meets ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13. Director, writer, stuntman, and star Jim van Bebber plays 'Goose.' He's the sort of guy who breaks into his Dad's house to drink his last beer.

His Dad's the kind of guy who injects smack into his toes and beats rats with a ball bat. There's revenge, decapitations, dime-store Ouija-board mysticism, trippy kaleidoscopic transitions, and a whole lotta innocent bystanders who probably shoulda just stayed home. It's the kind of movie they mostly stopped making in the 70's.

Budgeted films haven't come close to this since EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, or COFFY.

It's almost inconceivable that this came out the same year as DIE HARD, but there's an abundance of underground stuntwork and camera movement here that puts Hollywood to shame. Four stars of raw, primal, unfiltered rage, and a true achievement for outsider art.

-Sean Gill

1 comment:

skeelo said...

the editing on that fight scene is tight