Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976)

I'm always looking to discover new horror films to watch, especially in the month of October. While I sometimes check the Red Box near my work for something new to watch, I usually default to Netflix to find my next movie.

This week I ran across an article ranking the best 30 horror movies currently available on Netflix and the original The Town that Dreaded Sundown was the one I chose to watch.

This is one of those low budget horror movies from the late 70's. I'd classify it as a slasher flick, but it's well ahead of it's time. Set in Texarkana, TX, this movie is based on an actual crime that took place in the 40's. The killer, simply known as the Phantom Killer was never caught. He attacked 8 and killed 5 people during a four month span. The killer simply wears a sack over his head w/ two eye holes cut out. Could this killer have been an early inspiration to Jason Vorhees as shown in part 2 of Friday the 13th?

The movie stars Academy Award Winner Ben Johnson and Dawn Wells (Mary Ann of Gilligan's Island) among others. The pacing of the movie is a little slow for modern movie watchers, perhaps that is a reason the movie is being remade and will be released later this month (Oct. 16th, 2014). The movie reminds me of an Alfred Hitchcock film as a lot of the violence takes place off screen. This could be because of the low budget, or simply for the matter that what you hear and envision in your mind is more frightening than anything you can see.

I found the movie to be entertaining. It's a little older than what I would normally search out, but it came highly recommended from several sources. I had to keep reminding myself that the movie takes place in the 40's and life was just a little different back then. On that note it was refreshing that the movie was full of gratuitous sex and nudity, as I'm sure the remake will feature. Ben Johnson and Andrew Pine both put in solid performances as their respective characters who are chasing the killer.

As I've mentioned, this movie is currently available to stream on Netflix and it's worth the 1:30 running time.

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