Deadbeat at Dawn (Home Video Review)

Starring Jim Van Bebber, Megan Murphy, John Bradley

Directed by Jim Van Bebber


Yessiree, we here at Brainwaves like to let things marinate over a spell of time before offering our take on them – so, first up on the back-logged Blu-ray wheel of misfortune is the 1988 Jim Van Bebber cult-classic Deadbeat at Dawn. Semi-fresh off the presses from our pals over at Arrow comes this blood-soaked tale of revenge, and our leading man (if you don’t know the story by now) is Goose (Van Bebber) – leader of the Ravens, who is hell-bent on serving up a fresh dose of crimson casualty against his former gang rivals, The Spiders. His lady-friend was killed before he had the opportunity of straightening his life out, and now he’s been dragged back into the life his girl wanted him to escape so desperately…JUUUST a little too late! Look, if you all came here for a wickedly descriptive take on this sleazier-than-sleazy cheese-fest, then, by all means, allow me to down a few more beers and get all keyboardish with my eloquent and illuminating recap of this story. However, if you’d like to know how this little nugget looks all polished up and purty for your peepers on Blu-ray, then you’ve come to the right place!

As usual, Arrow makes the most out of what they’re given, and the video quality on this one was much better than I’d hoped or expected, with a fresh 2K restoration, and outside of some minor grain and progression issues, the movie looks cleaned up but not at the risk of losing its dirty luster. The audio transfer here is unfortunately what comes to the finish line dead last with a severe limp – there’s only so much polish in the world, and one thing that I do know when watching the original cut of this back in the day was the tin-cup acoustics, and if there’s a positive here to be found and hosed off, no real differences have occurred in its refreshing. As for special features, Arrow certainly didn’t skimp on the bonus content for all you extra-goodie seeking kooks – the full lineup of treats will be down below and this I truly feel is the entire presentation’s saving grace. If you haven’t sunken into your pockets for this little gem (and I seriously hope you have by now – it’s been out since last October), then what in the name of Goose and The Ravens are you waiting for?

Special Features:

  • Brand new free-wheeling audio commentary with Jim VanBebber, actor Paul Harper, and guest Cody Lee Hardin, moderated by filmmaker Victor Bonacore
  • VanBebber, Deadbeat Forever! – a brand new retrospective documentary on VanBebber and the Deadbeat legacy by filmmaker Victor Bonacore, featuring first-time interviews, super-rare footage, VanBebber’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 VanBebber 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 VanBebber 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 with 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

Dead Beat at Dawn (1988)
  • Film:
  • Special Features:
3.3
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