Deadbeat at Dawn is the first feature length film by director Jim Van Bebber. It would take the burnout genius almost another two decades to finish his second feature The Manson Family. Deadbeat at Dawn stars Van Bebber as Goose, gang leader of “The Ravens” who decides to quit his life of crime due to his love for his girlfriend. Sadly, Goose’s girlfriend is murdered by members of rival gang “The Spiders.” A psycho drug addict by the name of Bonecrusher even rips out Goose’s girlfriend’s intestines, which reminded him of “snakes.”
I’ll be honest. I think most action, kung-fu, and related films completely blow. Deadbeat at Dawn really has nothing to do with those films. The film is a sort of fucked advant garde action trash film which constantly resonates unexpected poetry both visually and lyrically. Van Bebber claims that he was inspired by everyone from Bruce Lee to Chuck Norris. I have even more respect for the film after knowing Van Bebber’s unpretentious influences. All of his films have the distinctive Van Bebber auteur traits that border between artistic insanity and comedy.
Jim Van Bebber also had the genius idea of having a gang fight sequence take place in a graveyard. As soon as I saw the first graveyard scene in Deadbeat at Dawn, I knew that the film was a masterpiece. All of the other film’s settings also compliment Deadbeat at Dawn’s feeling of urban decay and over all American city failure. Jim Van Bebber performing his own stunts within this urban decay gives me the feeling that he’s an individual that really knows how to get around in the city. Heads rolling down the road and throats getting ripped out also help to accentuate the overall urban shithole.
Goose’s Dad is a psycho Vietnam War veteran that has both an opiate problem and a schizophrenia problem. He believes that Goose has gone over to the enemy’s side and demands money so he can shoot it in his toes. Goose eventually ditches his deadbeat Dad and joins “The Ravens” again. He eventually starts wasting members of the “The Spiders” in a rage of revenge for both his girl and former gang members.
Deadbeat at Dawn is mandatory viewing for any serious fan of the horror, exploitation, or action film. The film makes me want to hunt down Jim Van Bebber and take away his bong so he will be more proactive about filmmaking. He dropped out of college and used his student loan money to make Deadbeat at Dawn. It would be good to see Van Bebber have the same type of ambition now with his filmmaking. Jim Van Bebber is without doubt one of the greatest filmmakers of the American underground. Deadbeat at Dawn is a film I always go back to.