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Every now and again, one breaks through, one transcends the genre of film in which it is ensconced. The little guy hits the homer, the underdog pulls out a last second go-ahead 3 pointer. DEADBEAT AT DAWN did it. Jim Van Bebber did it. And for that, this film and this filmaker deserve the highest honor we here at Brains On Film can bestow. The plot synopsis. Look assholes, that's all we got...we mention the films, break them down and then tell you to go fucking watch them. That is a honor... DEADBEAT AT DAWN written, directed, produced and by-God starring Jim Van Bebber, all hail, here it goes...

Goose (Van Bebber) is the leader of the Ravens, a vicious Dayton, Ohio street gang. Look, Dayton may not be the poster child of gang action that rushes to mind when you think gang activity, but we have a budget to stick to so fuck off. We open with him defending his turf against the big rival gang, The Spiders, lead by Danny, a real asswipe who likes to slap around his pregnant girlfriend, which I understand and all because, you know, that is her responsiblity to make sure she don't get knocked up an all. After a quick ass kickin', Danny runs off to lick his wounds. Goose's girlfriend, a mid-80's white trash beauty queen-type, with the ripped jeans, big hair and a white puffy shoulder shirt, Christy, tells Goose either quit the gang or she's leaving him, odd given just a few moments ago she was smiling and cheering the Goose on, but as you know I digress. Goose takes off to ponder this ultimatum, and while pondering, he practices his kung fu in a graveyard, what you wanted a dojo? Then, he clubs a dude over the head with a pair of nunchuckas and steals his motorbike, drives home and tells Christy he's getting out of the ganging biz. Flying solo, Goose is an open target for Danny. Danny enlists his Seargeant at Arms, a raving lunatic named Bone Crusher to kill Goose. This Bone Crusher is a bad motherfucker, how do we know this? On the way there, Bone Crusher spends a moment dropping some major league science on his fellow gangbanger and, of course, on us, the viewing public, while on a rooftop, "I'm the baddest motherfucker in the world!" Heavy! See, I told you. This scene demands multiple viewings and constant quoting so study up, buttmunch.

Meanwhile, Goose has left Christy in the apartment, which is a warehouse closet with a mattress on the floor, while he bags some quick cash by selling some cocaine. While he's gone, Bone Crusher and his pal show up at his apartment, with a couple nice Big BerthaTM Drivers (funny referential golf humor) and unfortuantely for Christy, they get a couple holes in, John Daly style (more funny referential golf humor). Goose is totally devastated to find Christy's mangled body doing a nice impersonation of the 15th at Augusta. (oky, no more funny referential golf humor) Distraught, Gooses does what any grieving fella would do after finding his lovable hump buddy in a heap bloody and dead...sobbing, he dumps her body in a trash compactor. Before making his way to his father's rat infested apartment, to score a Milwaukee's Best Light. Goose's Pops has a problem or two, the rats he sees in the apartment are chased incessently and there are holes in every wall from taking swipes at these rats, real or imagined. He's a paranoid Viet Nam vet (sorry for the redundancy) who threatens Goose with a meat cleaver to give him smack money. It ain't pretty. Once again an incredible performance for an actor whose pay was probably a couple 7 layers at the Bell. Thank you Charlie Goetz, wherever you may be. Goose ends up cold cocking his old man and takes off, but not before giving his old man a wad of cash. You know, guilt and shit.

Goose gets some killing on his mind after tying on a major league drunk, but it is himself he decides to off. But before he can pull the trigger, his old gang buddy shows up and smacks him back into sobriety with some two fisted tuff love. He tells Goose that the Ravens and the Spiders are joining for a big robbery, and that Goose is going to participate whether he likes it or not. After Goose takes an ass whopping he agrees.

Seeing his chance for vengeance against Danny, Goose arms himself to the teeth with knives, those aswesome throwing stars, and his ever faithful nunchuckas, even though they are all just meeting up to divvy up the loot. It's a good thing he did, because Danny whips out a machine gun and wipes out all of Goose's former gang. Goose scoops up the dough flings some stars, nunchucks a couple assholes and high-tails it, leading to the film's brutally violent and fucking incredible 4 star finale. To try and explain what the 3rd reel does for low-budget filmmaking would be make it seem trivial. Van Bebber's true potential is shown in all of its glory, as an actor, director and story-teller. It is all executed in grand style and breaks ground while remaining true to its roots. If you do not rise to your feet at least once during the conclusion of DEADBEAT, maybe you should apply jumper cables to your ball sac, cuz' mister youse is dead.

Van Bebber is truly a tour de force...considering he had about $15 to work with, DEADBEAT rivals so called actioners of 50 times the budget. When you consider that most of the actors and crew had never been on either end of a camera, it is even more incredible. Van Bebber is completely believable as Goose, as is the use of Dayton, Ohio's piss poor economy as it looks like it was shot up in Abandontown...(thanks Matt). Marc Pittman's Bone Crusher, is downright brutal and brutally funny especially in the aforementioned rooftop rant. This methed up fucker gives the performance of any lifetime with 45 seconds of screen time...Bone Crusher is big, bad and believable, believe me.

Van Bebber somehow manages to pay homage to The Warriors, Faster Pussycat, Born Losers and a host of other drive-in wondershit without ever seeming derivative. Knifings, golf clubbings, decapitations, finger flinging, throat gouging and more are handled with with shocking realism, even though Van Bebber's effects budget wouldn't have filled one of Tom Savini's nostrils with cheap Peruvian ZipLock dust. Anyone who has ever thought about making a film should study DEADBEAT. I know I am...Van Bebber took a student loan in his 3rd year of college and at age 23, decided 10 rolls of film would be all the education he would need and this bit of movie Copperfield was born. The cast did all of their own stunts which included Van Bebber taking a 30 foot jump, multiple fist fights and hanging on the side of a moving car bumping the walls of an alley at about 40 mph, all seriously h-core. Before JACKASS and all that reality bullshit people wanted to make goddamned movies and some put their bodies and minds on the line to get it done. Backyard Wrestling this ain't fuckers this is ARRRRRTTTTTT!

Van Bebber is somewhat of a mystery, to come out of the gate with such incredible film only to wallow in obscurity is bizarre. His long-unfinished Charlie's Family (review forthcoming) is considered the most realistic view of Manson's exploits, and gorehounds love his shorts that are floating around, Roadkill is truly one of the best shorts I have ever seen. Van Bebber was last spotted co-penning along with David Szulkin (author of the required masterwork Last House On the Left Book) a revamping of the sleazo classic The Toolbox Murders...We should be so lucky to see this jewel get filmed. Of course much has been made of Van Bebber's unhappiness with the Synapse final release of the DEADBEAT DVD. He was unhappy with the color, the sound and even his own commentary. Van Beeber unleashed his hystrionics on Synapse like a man possessed. Much of fandom's snickers may have driven this recluse even further underground as Synapse decided to make their arguements public by releasing Van Bebber's drunken answering machine diatribes...here they are set to music...if you want to hear the audio click here. Be prepared, Jim is a little drunk and a whole lot pissed, it is 41/2 minutes into a man's head that has somehow become unhinged, we don't know how or why, but Van Bebber seems unhappy.

Jim Van Bebber come back, we need thee. I mean that, if ever a filmaker in the modern era showed so much promise and then fell off the flat side of the earth, I don't know of him. DEADBEAT AT DAWN may be the best throwback (read: homage) to the great era of drive-in flicks that has ever been made. IT IS THAT FUCKING GOOD. For that alone Jim Van Bebber has to be given his props and held in reverence. If you cannot agree, to quote Goose...."Fuck your noise!"

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Goose trapped in the window head down an alley at about 40 mph.

Goose heading towards the end of the line!


Danny 12 years ahead of Eyes Wide Shut with this look. Nice hair.

VanBebber putting it on the line for us. This Ohio boy sure is good!

Peckinpah=type action as the whole gang gets frosted as we build to the grand finale!
Fuck Yes!
This epic gets the highest possible recommendation!

Jim VanBebber, he does it all in this fucker, and looks good doing it.

Bone Crusher...man I dig this guy...he is good!

Never ask an Ouija Board if you are going to die...it will lie!

Guess who got a new set for Christmas this year?

FFFFFOOOOOOOORRRRRRREEEE! He's a Cinderella Story......

Goose carries his girlfriend to a better place.

Goose pushes the better place button.

Christy goes to that better place.

Goose Sr. gets a little testy cuz "they're all out to get me!" know what I mean?

But Paranoia is easily staved off with ol' shot betwixt the toes.....mmmmm that's nice.

Goose and Pops square off, dysfunctional family, my ass, that's tough love. Sometimes a parent just has to goe that route.

Danny looks like every dumb punk that I went to high school with.

Danny mutilates Christy's corpse in this weird dream sequence, once again, highest recommendation.


Jocks on the outside of your jeans, was I absent that day that was in vogue!? I mean, I would have been down... I'm bringin it back!

VanBebber, come back to us my brother!

Goose comtemplates the barrel of a gun.
Brains On Film 2003