Deadbeat At Dawn - Deadbeat At Dawn(Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2018]Released in 1988 Deadbeat At Dawn is a blistering, often grimy gut-punch of a film, that brings together action & gang war genres, with often prolonged & splatter bound violence. Here from Arrow (both in the US & UK) we get an extra bulging new release of this brutal late 80’s classic.
Deadbeat At Dawn was the first full-length feature film from infamous cult auteur Jim VanBebber- who wrote, directed, produced, did the effects, and edited the film. The plot focuses in on troubled gang member Goose(VanBebber)- whose girlfriend is trying to get him out of the gang life, fairly soon one of the other gang members decides to torture & kill her. After this Goose switchers from suicidal, manically aggressive, to brutally focused. Along the way, we meet his junky Vietnam vet dad, who’s lost his mind & injecting heroin in between his toes in a squat. A gang member who beats up his girlfriend after he finds out she pregnant with his child, and a host of other rough, ready & sleazy characters.
The film moves from grim-drama, onto prolonged martial art tinged gang- flights, though to extremely brutal action- taking in extreme knife slashing, throat gougings, and limb rippings. In-between we get jiving talking banter, kaleidoscopic interludes, and american urbane grimness. Sure some of the acting is a little mixed, but for the most part everyone involved does enough to pull itself through, and VanBebber really puts his all into the role of Goose. It’s certainly one of the most extreme action films of the 1980’s, with the whole thing pumped-up with punk bound grit & spit.
As we've come to expect from Arrow Video- we get a great new 2k scan from the original negatives, as well as a good selection of well put together new extras. First up we get a new feature-length doc entitled- Jim VanBebber, Deadbeat Forever!- this one hour & twenty-minute film moves from his teen/home-made gory shorts, onto building-up & funding of Deadbeat, through to the film's release & it impacts. Going onto briefly touching on the other films he's directed, his acting in others films, and up-coming work. On the whole the docs most worthy, with some great input from those who have work with VanBabber, as well as the man himself- I just felt maybe ten or so minutes could have been shaved off the end, as it seems to overstay it’s welcome with repeated banter.
Other extras include a commentary track from VanBebber, actor Paul Harper, and guest Cody Lee Hardin- all moderated by filmmaker Victor Bonacore, who directed Diary of a Deadbeat: The Story of Jim VanBebber. The tracks decidedly chatty- moving from the impact of scenes, Influences on making the film, casting, off the chuff shooting, sound-tracking, etc- a lot of ground is covered here, and for the most part, it’s worthy.
Next, we get four newly restored shorts from VanBebber- these come from between the early 1980’s & 1990’s- they each run between ten & thirty minutes, and each features VanBebber punchy, gritty, and often bloody style. Each film also takes in a new commentary track from VanBebber, and these give good insights into each film influence & production.
We get a selection of four or five music videos by VanBebber- and these come from the more metallic side of things. We get a selection of short outtakes from Deadbeat, 1986 archive footage of the filming of Deadbeat, & image gallery. So all in all it's a good selection of extras.
In summing Arrow have done another great job with this reissue, and if you're looking for no-bars held, grimy, and nasty action film there really is nothing quite like Deadbeat At Dawn, and you need to pick this up.Roger Batty