Friday, February 8, 2013

Deadbeat At Dawn

Deadbeat At Dawn Directed By Jim Van Bebber. Starring Marc Pittman. (1988).
            For my copy of this flick I made a deal with Chas Balun, I’d send him a blank videotape and he’d dub me a copy. He was very generous in that way and often wrote back and answered by dopey questions, which was very cool. At the time it was pretty much impossible to find a copy, no video stores had them and the only stuff I could find from director Jim Van Bebber was “My Sweet Satan + his early shorts, including one of my favorite incomplete ones Roadkill: the last days of John Martin. That one was unfinished and there was a rumor that the actor left and a lot of commercials were never cleared of copyright infringement (one road service one that intersects brilliantly with the reality of a cannibal serial killer stringing up people to be eaten later). This one in my mind is the most accurate Jeffrey Dahmer tribute (and fuck that Jeremy Renner sympathetic Dahmer bullshit). I would read about Van Bebber’s Charlies Family (which later became Manson Family) years before it came out (in 1990), so I was eager to check out his first film.
            Deadbeat At Dawn is such a nerve wrecking tough martial arts street gang flick that has the same kind of authenticity that Combat Shock had. I also connected the two because I had been introduced to Buddy G through the Deep Red catalog and he also made the best with what he had (locations, excessive gore and a meager budget) and made some genius short films and music videos. Deadbeat is almost like an ultra low budget Warriors. They both have that grassroots working class ethic and homegrown quality that can’t be faked, Deadbeat comes from the standpoint of low life druggie burn outs, fighting for turf in Dayton Ohio.            
            Van Bebber is Goose the leader of The Ravens, in the DVD interviews, he mentions that Code Of Silence was a major influence on his character. He wanted to create a complete opposite style of character, basically a scumfuck Chuck Norris getting high instead of enforcing his conservative authority (which includes slamming a cokehead’s face into his straw). Most of the authentic street punks seem pissed off and hold a grudge against society and are at each other’s throats, Danny is the leader of The Spiders, the rival gang, he looks like an out of work porn actor and brings his Batman mask to a brawl. The gang names are all co-incidentally also garage band names.
Guts look like snakes

            Bonecrusher has the most quotable lines (most of them were used as intros for Impetigo songs). Goose’s girlfriend Christy is cute, but a horrid actor, thankfully she is killed pretty quickly and gets dumped into a trash compactor (a very cheap funeral)! Goose is a pathetic but likeable anti-hero who uses nunchucks to knock random people off motorcycles, dives off high bridges and at one point gets dragged against a brick wall as he hangs onto a speeding car. All the stunts look incredible and were authentic, Van Bebber trained out of a martial arts book and basically taught himself how to handle the majority of the stunts, special effects, while acting and directing. The gang begrudgingly joins forces toward the end after Goose wanders around, hangs out with his junkie father and pathetically comes onto an old high school crush in a bar who rejects him. An armored car heist is planned out, but turns into a vicious set up and it all takes a turn for the worse as Goose has a final showdown with Danny of the Spiders who chomps his fingers off. The gore effects are very convincing and cringe inducing (watching the thorax being pulled open, made me jump out of my skin)! If you combined the bleakness of Combat Shock with the entertainment value of the street gangs in The Warriors you’d have Deadbeat At Dawn, a bonefide classic. The nintendo sounding, moody casio soundtrack is cool too. Available for rent on DVD.
Buy a copy from Darksky Films
Here's a sort of cool interview with Van Bebber

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...