'Deadbeat At Dawn: Special Edition'
(Paul Harper, Jim Van Bebber, Megan Murphy, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1988) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: Written by, directed by and starring Van Bebber, 'Deadbeat At Dawn' follows the story of Goose a gang leader whose girlfriend is brutally slaughtered when he attempts to leave the thug life behind.
Pulled back into the gang, who've now formed an uneasy alliance with the thugs that butchered his girl, Goose sees an opportunity to exact his brutal, deadly revenge.
Blu-ray Verdict: The very definition of DIY, independent filmmaking (Van Bebber quit film school after his first year and used his student loan to fund the movie), 'Deadbeat at Dawn' surpasses its low-budget origins to create a revenge movie that delivers more thrills and bloody spills than all of Chuck Norris' films combined!
Jim Van Bebber's notorious, blood-drenched cult classic 'Deadbeat at Dawn' rises again on the advent of its 30th anniversary, newly restored for the first time on Blu-ray.
Locked and loaded with a raft of new extras, see 'Deadbeat at Dawn' as you've never seen it before in all its head-busting, bone-crushing glory!
Bebber, as aforementioned, 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 '80s, made a LOT of money in his choice, trust me!
Indeed, 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!
Van 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 a 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.
In truth, 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.
Regardless, 'Deadbeat at Dawn' is very grim and dirty, but it is not as relentless and emotionally powerful as 'Combat Shock' or even Martin Scorsese's 'Taxi Driver.'
You see, '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 of that era, of course.
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) worked with what they had brilliantly.
One of the stand out moments is when Bonecrusher tells everyone just how he hates people: "I hate people!! I really f**kin' hate people!" and does it with such robust verve that his menacing appeal is taken at first blow.
Indeed, he is equally as bad, as dangerous, as nuts as the film's main villain, Danny, the leader of the rival gang. In truth, the only positive characters in the film are the two females, Christy and her sister.
According to Van Bebber, that was done purposely as it was always to be one of the film's main 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 boiling revenge.
He knew this all might end badly for himself, sure, but that didn't matter since he had lost the light of his life. For he always knew that after the revenge had come and gone there would be nothing left for him to live fore anyway.
The various fight scenes are shot and edited pretty stylishly. A couple of scenes have perhaps some little too fast edits - and thus become rather relentless in their "message" - but mostly 'Deadbeat At Dawn' stays on track with its message.
Oh, and finally, and even being low budget, the soundtrack is also very menacing and ominous at times. It reminds me of a youthful, raw John Carpenter (Halloween, The Fog, etc.) and it most certainly adds much to the atmosphere. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements by Arrow Films, supervised and approved by writer-director Jim Van Bebber
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed PCM mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new free-wheeling audio commentary with Jim Van Bebber ('Goose', The Ravens' Gang Leader), actor Paul Harper ('Danny Carmodi', The Spyders' Gang Leader) and guest Cody Lee Hardin, moderated by filmmaker Victor Bonacore (Diary of a Deadbeat: The Story of Jim Van Bebber)
Jim Van Bebber, Deadbeat Forever! a brand new retrospective documentary on Van Bebber and the Deadbeat legacy by Filmmaker Victor Bonacore, featuring first-time interviews, super-rare footage, Van Bebber's college films and much, much more!
Archival 1986 behind-the-scenes documentary Nate Pennington's VHS documentary on a failed Deadbeat shoot
Outtakes, newly transferred in HD
Four newly-restored Van Bebber short films Into the Black (1983, 34 mins), My Sweet Satan (1993, 19 mins), Roadkill: The Last Days of John Martin (1994, 14 mins) and Gator Green (2013, 16 mins)
Jim Van Bebber Music Video Collection, featuring never-before-seen Director's Cuts
Chunkblower promotional trailer for an unfinished Gary Blair Smith-produced gore-soaked feature film
Extensive Image Gallery Never-Before-Seen Stills!
Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain
+ First pressing only: Collector's booklet featuring new writing by Scott Gabbey and Graham Rae