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Think of every whacked out, exploitive, low-budget revenge fantasy movie you have ever watched. Now try to imagine one with ten times the amount of blood and gore, made for less money than Hollywood pays a catering service for the equivalent of one dayís worth of doughnuts. That pretty much sums up DEADBEAT AT DAWN ($30), an ultra-violent, off-the-wall action movie from independent filmmaker Jim Van Bebber (who serves as the filmís writer, director and star). For the filmís entire 80 minute running time, I sat there watching with my mouth hanging open, finding it difficult to believe what I was seeing. Every frame of this movie has cult classic written all over it, which is why it was Don Mayís company Synapse Films that released it released it on DVD. The movie wonít win any awards for acting or technical achievements, but it definitely deserves recognition for all the ingenuity that went into it, along with the obvious risks taken by the cast members to perform the kind of stunts usually left to trained professionals. Watching some of the stuff he does in the film, it becomes apparent that Van Bebber has a pair of stones, the size of bowling balls.

The plot of DEADBEAT AT DAWN concerns a drug dealer/gang leader named Goose (Van Bebber) whose girlfriend convinces him to give up his suicidal lifestyle. Unfortunately, as Goose is off doing one last drug deal, rival gang members club break into his apartment and beat his girlfriend to death. Heartbroken, Goose gives his girl a proper burial in an industrial trash compactor. After going home to do some mourning with his spaced out, junkie father, Goose decides itís time to take his revenge against the gang that killed his girl. The seemingly unknown cast of DEADBEAT AT DAWN also includes Paul Harper, Megan Murphy, Ric Walker, Marc Pitman, Maureen Gentner, Tom Burns, Steve King, Dave Parker, Bill Stover, Carol Lee, Mark Gillespie and Charlie Goetz.

Synapse Films has done a good job with the DVD edition of DEADBEAT AT DAWN, contrary to what director Jim Van Bebber thinks about the disc. Check out the Synapse Films web site for what could be the DVDís best supplemental feature- Jim Van Bebberís irate telephone messages to Don May concerning the DVD edition of DEADBEAT AT DAWN. The movie is presented at 1.33:1 and the 16mm film has all the quality one normally associates with 16mm. The image is as crisp and detailed, as it is every going to look on NTSC. However, there is a lot of noticeable film grain, which is exactly what I expected from this ultra-low budget 16mm production. Colors are fairly strong and the flesh tones appear natural. Blacks are accurately rendered, but shadow detail is as limited as the productionís budget. Digital compression artifacts did not affect the image in any significant way.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack isnít great, but it gets the job done.

The interactive menus are fairly basic, supplying the requisite scene selection feature. Supplements are also accessible through the menus, although the majority resides on the second side of the disc. Side one includes a detailed audio commentary with director/star Jim Van Bebber and producer Mike King (amongst others) that can only be accessed via the audio button on the DVD playerís remote control. Side two includes a complete directorís filmography, the CHUNKBLOWER promotional film, the short and very sick film MY SWEET SATAN, plus outtakes and some hidden surprises.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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