WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS BODYCOUNT. HIGH RISK OF SPOILERS. ENTER IF YOU DARE.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Phantom of Texarkana: The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976)

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)
rating:**1/2
starring:  Ben Johnson, Andrew Prine and Dawn Wells

Based on the Texarkana Moonlight Murders back in 1946, The Town That Dreaded Sundown was one of the more mediocre yet fun psychodrama shot in a semi-documentary form in a gimmicky attempt to entertain.

Taking place in the 50s, months after World war II, the small town of Texarkana was preparing for a better future as they mingle around their lives with no or little worries to mind. That was until one night, in a lover's lane, a couple was brutally attacked by a man in a white hood; both survived, but the lady is badly bitten (not a typo). This caused a stir among the locals, and soon, more attacks started to come through; the situation got so bad that they call in as many possible reinforcements from the state of Texas. But was this enough to stop a madman hellbent on killing?

Juggling its tone between genres, mainly police drama, camp comedy and the usual slasher flick, The Town That Dreaded Sundown came off as cult classic best remembered due to its dazed nature. It sometimes come off as serious, with  the gritty look and tone of the story providing authenticity to a somewhat fictionalized take on a true story. It even got a very intimidating looking killer, while simplistic in getup; blue eyes that burns in fury, and heavy breathing distorting his mask; the movie might as well had been one of the many movies to popularized the stalker genre. (or at least inspired Jason's first mask)

For all its seriousness, it sometimes, it shifts to a more comical feel, with cross-dressing cops littered to lure the killer and, a famous scene, the killer tortures and murders a girl strapped to a tree with a knife attached to a trombone. Yes, he trombones and stabs the girl to death. Why do a simple stabbing that much complexity? Sorta makes this guy desperate to make a name for himself. Plus the large number of casts didn't actually do much to help the film achieve it's full potential as a scare, not to mention some very prolong moments of police business that we understood not. On the other hand, it's a simple movie, with much periodic flourish and enough background details to make this film an entertaining piece of a psuedo-mockumentary tied slasher thriller of sorts.

The fusion of horror, comedy and drama had divided and joined attentions, hard to not to see why a lot of horror junkie know and recognizes this film; it's simplicity is easy to digest, it's tone too uneven to ignore, it practically have something to offer for a wide variety of fans and the overall result of the movie is crazy enough not to enjoy. So, I can easily say this without choking; do yourself a favor and catch this film. It's one less weird cinema to watch, but it's all worth a view.

Bodycount:
1 male shot to death
1 female found tied to a tree and shot
1 male shot
1 female stabbed to death with a knife attached to a trombone
1 male shot to death
total: 5

6 comments:

  1. This is a lost gem. I remember seeing this way back when I was in high school. I still love that trombone stabbing. What skill and twisted sense of rhythm. LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's only playing one note, and yet he's "killing" the crowd! XD

      Delete
  2. This is one of my favourite slasher movies, for some reason the sack head killer really freaked me out the first time I watched it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. he had his moments of sheer badassery. Who knew a sack headed gunman would look kinda cool.

      Delete
  3. This one was pretty scary when it was released back in the 70's, because they never caught the real killer, and only 30 years later there was still a possibility the guy could take off killing again. Of course, I lived hundreds of miles away in another state, so I wasn't TOO worried, but I would have been if I'd lived in Texarkana. Now, it's been almost 70 years later, and he'd have to be awfully spry to trombone someone to death now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the fact its based on a true story and that it's almost as detailed as the facts. No other horror flicks had gone with much faithfulness as his did...even if the trombone kill's killed some seriousness...

      no really, why not just stab the girl? O_o

      Delete