63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must-See for True Crime Fans
The Town That Dreaded Sundown is an effective little thriller worth seeking out and viewing more than once. It is the true story of a hooded killer who went on a rampage in Texarkana, Arkansas just after World War II. If you are a history or true crime fan, you will appreciate the narrarative style of telling this story. For example, the film goes into detail on how...
Published on January 28, 2000 by Thomas Baio
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Twenty-somethings get engorged and tingling then a psycho with a flourbag over his head ruins the would-be climax
I suppose this film is more important in a historical sense than an artistic one: it's a proto-slasher film (from 1976, before the great age of the slasher flick), about a proto-slasher (a real whacko carving up Texarkana in 1946).
Just to establish this as being a docu-drama, and therefore obviously non-exploitative, let's have a long narration fill in the...
Published on January 4, 2008 by T. L. Quesenberry, Jr.
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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must-See for True Crime Fans,
The Town That Dreaded Sundown is an effective little thriller worth seeking out and viewing more than once. It is the true story of a hooded killer who went on a rampage in Texarkana, Arkansas just after World War II. If you are a history or true crime fan, you will appreciate the narrarative style of telling this story. For example, the film goes into detail on how life was in Arkansas before, during and after the murders and important dates of the case are displayed to the viewer throughout the film. The movie itself gives alot more than it was given budget-wise to make. The attack scenes and the final confrontation between the protagonists and the villain, are tense and effective without the use of bloody make-up FX. Fans of horror films relating to true crime who have already seen all the movies about Charles Manson,Ed Geine, Burke and Hare, etc. will also want to consider viewing this film. The writer (Earl E. Wynn) and director (Charles B. Pierce) colaborated on other films based on true cases entitled The Evictors and The Legend of Boggy Creek; two films that come highly recommended as well. Happy Hunting!
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsolved Mystery,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am a true fan of horror movies. I love the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" series. I am a fan of "Halloween." Every Friday the 13th I rent every "Friday the 13th" movie and stay up all night watching them...always with the lights out. Despite my wide-ranging horror film experience, I can honestly say that "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" scared me more than any other film to date.
Shot in 1976, this film presents the true story of a Texarkana, Arkansas crime spree in 1946. World War II had ended bringing the military boys back home and Texarkana was enjoying peace and prosperity. From the murky depths of night, a killer mysteriously emerged to taunt and terrorize the inhabitants of the quiet town. Young couples were attacked in their cars on lovers lane in intervals of 21 days...and even a famous Texas Ranger couldn't solve the case.
The story is presented in documentary style, with a narrator weaving direction through the onslaught of terror. There is no shock value to this movie. It is presented with raw facts and the chilling realization that this crime could happen anywhere at any time. The Phantom Killer of Texarkana, always wearing a hood to cover his face, left a crude and bloody path of destruction in his wake and throughout this film you can feel the terror gripping the tiny town. This movie is a necessary selection for anyone who loves sitting in the dark and being scintillatingly terrified or for anyone who simply enjoys a true unsolved mystery.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling,
First an explanation: This movie loses one star for the lame attempts at humor inserted by director Charles B.Pierce, who should have known better. Beyond that criticism, though, this semi-documentary about a rash of brutal murders that held the small town of Texarkana , Arkansas in an icy grip of fear way back in 1946 is a top-notch suspense thriller. The killer is depicted as being as capable of "mad -dog" brutality as he was in reality ( the scene with the trombone will haunt you for days), and the low budget actually accentuates the grim circumstances unfolding in this movie. This film is very, very scary. It has also received recognition as being one of the more accurate depictions of a true life crime case that has ever hit the screen. If you like to be scared, then pop this one into the vcr, turn off the lights and get ready to have your nerves assaulted. Charles B.Pierce demonstrated with this feature that he knows how to play an audience. It's a shame he hasn't done anything even remotely noteworthy since. Ah, well. If this were his only film as a director, he could still beam with pride.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the grandfather of slasher flicks...but this is a true story,
i consider this to be one of the scariest movies i have ever seen, and i love horror movies. but this is not really a horror movie, this is based on actual events that took place in texarkana. granted by todays standards it is very tame for the simple fact that in order to get shocks today, there obviously has to be an over abundance of blood and gore. i completely disagree with that. movies can still shock and scare without blood. and in my opinion this was does the trick. the whole concept of a hooded killer and not ever knowing who it is scares me more than anything. jason (from the 13th films) has nothing over this killer. this one was real! not fantasy. the acting is kinda out there, but the movie still pulls it off. i was only 12 when this movie was released and now i am nearing 40 and i still will not watch it alone. the most shocking scene is the trombone sequence. it is a bit unsettling. i recently purchased it on a new vhs and am hoping it will be released on dvd in its widescreen format. to me this is a must have for anyone who likes horror or mystery. it was made by the same man who made the "legend of boggy creek". once again this movie is a true story which is probably why the scare factor is high for me and the fact i only live 2 1/2 hours from texarkana!!! i give it 5 stars.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Done True Crime Story,
This film gives an accurate account about a series of heinous murders that took place around the Texarkana area right after World War Two. This true story was national front page news circa 1946. It is not intended to be a modern day "slasher" hit. No blood & guts here. This is for the realistic and mature eye. Great attention to detail was paid in achieving an authentic 1940's era look and feel, which lends the film great aura. To this day, these notorious murders remain unsolved. This is a must see for any true-crime buff.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep Away From Lovers Lane!...,
This review is from: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (BluRay/DVD Combo) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN should please many different fans on several levels. First, it's an amazing docudrama / thriller that actually manages to use narration (sparingly) to heighten tension, and not simply to state facts. Second, the killer is masked, silent, and terrifying; predating those similar psychos of the fictional variety (i.e.: Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers). Third, TTTDS is an excellent police procedural. If you enjoy REAL CRIME-type shows, then you'll love this! Andrew Prine (GRIZZLY) and Ben Johnson (THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS, TERROR TRAIN) are well-cast in their roles as sheriff and Texas Ranger respectively. Also, seeing Dawn Wells (yep. Mary-Ann from GILLIGAN'S ISLAND!) as a tormented victim, is a nice surprise! Highly recommended... P.S.- Whenever I watch this, I can't help but wonder if the ZODIAC KILLER had been influenced by it (the actual 1946 case)...
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You won't go "parking" after watching this movie!,
I saw this movie back in the late 1980's and I loved it. I finally found it on video a few years ago, and have re-watched it numerous times. There is no gore, and relatively little blood, but this movie does quite well without it. Some of the acting is subpar, but it doesn't hurt the finished product. So who was the Phantom Killer? Deranged WW 2 vet? Escaped lunatic? Or scorned lover? Whoever he was, he created a whole lot of havoc back in 1946. I remember my Grandmother talking about these murders. Although she lived in a rural Georgia town, the big Atlanta papers carried the story almost daily, and she kept up with the events. The scary thing is: He was never caught. Oh, in real life a suspect was locked up, BUT there was no conclusive evidence to say: Yes, this is the Phantom Killer. And why did the Texas Rangers never close the case? Hmmmm... Did the Phantom Killer slip away from Law Enforcement? Did he get caught for another crime and do time in prison? Or, for reasons unknown, did he just quit like Jack the Ripper? Odds are the Phantom Killer is dead today, his identity still unknown. But does his deranged spirit still haunt Texarkana? This movie WILL scare you more so that the Jason's, Freddy's and Micheal Myers.. because it's true! I highly recommed it. Oh, and by the way, parents who don't want there kids to go "parking" should make them watch this movie!!!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Little Known 70's True-Crime Gem!,
Based on a true story about a serial murderer that terrorized Texarkana in the 1940's, this film is definitely worth watching. Produced by Charles B. Pierce who brought us the 70's classic, "The Legend of Boggy Creek", this film has a similiar documentary-like, eerie quality. It is even narrated by the same guy who narrated "Boggy Creek! Too Cool!
Filmed on a low budget, "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" still manages to frighten and entertain with style. If you are a fan of 70's cinema and like true-crime tales, this one delivers!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Town That Dreaded Sundown,
By A Customer
The Town That Dreaded Sundown is a must see, must have for
any fan of true crime or story telling movies.
Based on a real-life serial killer ....the actual case
was in its time known as the "moonlight murderer".
If you like being scared without being shocked this film
is very scary.
This movie is not a large budget,big name film...it
was made with the idea of getting a true life very
frightning account of murder on film.
I am a fan of Horror films such as Halloween and
friday the 13th films( by the way once you have seen
T.T.D.S you will see where the idea of jason
in a white mask originated)
I am a big fan of Charles B. Pierce and wish he was more
mainstream.Without giving away the plot this film reminds us
all that in life the good guys do not allways get their man.
I would love to have this film on dvd however I dont believe
its available on dvd.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Low-Budget Creepy,
I was about 8 years old when my grandmother, who lived in Texarkana at the time of the killings, told me the story of "The Phantom." After hearing her take on the events, I got my mother to rent it for me. This was a mistake. I had to sleep with the lights on for several days, and the mere sight of a canvas sack creeped me out. For all its faults, the film holds up remarkably well.
First and foremost, it needs to be viewed in context. It is old. It is low budget. It is, at times, oddly comical in an unfunny way. What it has going for it is that same low-budget, grainy, documentary feel that made so many cheap 70's flicks (such as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre") unsettling. Like "Chainsaw," at times the movie is so low-budget that it feels like a snuff film. I've never seen a snuff film, mind you, but I can imagine.
The narration, acting and staging are all so quaint that it seems like 1940's community theater. While this would detract from most films, here it works because when the killings are shown (and they are shown in painstaking, graphic detail), you're genuinely shocked. In short, it goes back and forth between "Mayberry RFD" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and you're never sure what you're going to get next. And of course, the fact that this a true story, along with the fact that the murderer was never caught, adds to the overall creepiness of the film.
It's definitely worth a look for horror fans. Viewed in context, it's a surprisingly effective film.
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The Town That Dreaded Sundown (BluRay/DVD Combo) [Blu-ray] by Charles B. Pierce (Blu-ray - 2013)