65 years after a masked serial killer terrorized the small town of Texarkana, the so-called 'moonlight murders' begin again. Is it a copycat or something even more sinister? A lonely high school girl, with dark secrets of her own, may be the key to catching him.
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Charles B. Pierce
Willie E. Smith,
John P. Hixon,
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Set in the late 40's the residents of Texarkana, Texas are left terrorized by a mysterious hooded killer who is stalking victims during the evening and leaving the local police at a loss. Written by
The movie reminds me of one of those ace 1940's chillers, like Follow Me Quietly (1949). Based on fact, Sundown is about a phantom killer who stalks lover's lanes in Texarkana, and police efforts to catch him. Of course, without the heavy hand of a '40's Production Code, Sundown is much more graphic than anything from that earlier decade.
Importantly, however, this is not a slasher movie. There is some blood and violence, but the chief effect comes from the larger than usual sound department. The screams from victims are both unrelenting and unnerving. The girls really do sound terrified. Then there's the heavy breathing from the hooded killer, which are the only sounds he makes and about as chilling as the screams.
Credit producer-director Pierce with making shrewd use of a small budget. The Arkansas locations add both color and authenticity, along with the unforced drawls of southern born leads Johnson and Prine. The movie also does a good job of recreating a '40's milieu, even down to the girls' bobby-sox that brings back fond memories. My only gripe is with Pierce he should stick to producing-directing because his turn as the inept patrolman Benson is too out of sync and silly for the movie as a whole.
Judging from some Google searches, it looks like the screenplay sticks pretty close to the general facts of a case that also appears to have entered the realm of regional folklore. Given the spookiness, I can see why. Anyway, the overall result is a nail-biter in the outstanding tradition of B-movie chillers, with a rather surprising outcome.
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