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The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)

In 1946, a ranger hunts for a hooded serial killer terrorizing the residents of a small Texas town.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Jimmy Clem ...
Jim Citty ...
Police Chief R.J. Sullivan
Charles B. Pierce ...
Robert Aquino ...
Sheriff Otis Barker
Cindy Butler ...
Peggy Loomis
Christine Ellsworth ...
Linda Mae Jenkins
Earl E. Smith ...
Dr. Kress (as Earl E. Smith)
...
Roy Allen
Joe Catalanotto ...
Eddie LeDoux (as Joe Catalanatto)
Roy Lee Brown ...
Mike Hackworth ...
Sammy Fuller
Misty West ...
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Storyline

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 Losman <losman@express-news.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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In 1946 this man killed five people... Today he still lurks the streets of Texarkana, Ark. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

24 December 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Umleger  »

Filming Locations:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Some of the swamp scenes at the end of the film are actually recycled footage from The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), Charles B. Pierce's first feature film. See more »

Goofs

Obvious Day for Night effect when Deputy Ramsey finds the first murdered couple. Trees don't cast shadows on rainy nights. See more »

Quotes

Captain J.D. Morales: You just got two speeds on this thing - wide open and stop?
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User Reviews

 
A Film That Set Up Horror And Crime For Decades
15 December 2007 | by See all my reviews

Based on a true story, the phantom killer stalks Texarkana and kills couples who hang out at lovers lanes. Armed with some nasty weapons and a pillow case for a mask, he terrorizes this town to the point of near shutdown, causing police forces from all over the state to intervene. Who can stop his rampage?

I've never seen a film quite like this before. I've seen plenty of based-on-real-killer films (most of which are nothing like the original murders), and the recent David Fincher film "Zodiac" follows very much in the vein of this movie (and Zodiac has some similarities to the Phantom). And this film is a definite inspiration for "Friday the 13th" with the pillow case mask. So, in at least one way, this film really kicked off a trend of stalking psychos. And while the first real serial killer film may have been "Black Christmas", this film isn't one to ignore: there's a really good scene of a woman being chased through the woods that is not unlike what we'd see a hundred times in the next thirty years.

The film also offers two dichotomies I'll address briefly: crime versus horror, and comedy versus drama. Much of this comes across as a crime film, because we are following the police on their manhunt and get to know some of the officers personally and they are clearly the protagonists. We want them to win. But this film has a horror element that cannot be ignored -- we don't just see the aftermath of a killing. The director took great delight in showing the chase, the torture and the deaths of the women. A straight crime tale wouldn't do this. But a horror film would, because many horror films have us egging on the killer even when we know he or she is evil. This film offers both sides.

The serious and comedy balance is also striking. We have a documentary-style voice telling us the updates and we are offered dates of the killings and for the most part this story remains rather serious and we can sympathize with the town. But then, we also have some cheesy music (not quite "Yakety Sax" but the same idea) and a character who threatens old women, cross-dresses and drives a cop car (poorly) as if he was an officer in "Dukes of Hazzard". Horror films generally have a comic relief -- a dark one -- but this really pushes the silly factor.

All the acting is great, the plot is simple but effective (a police manhunt). The video quality isn't perfect (this film really deserves a remastering and a re-appraisal, as horror historians will have to recognize the importance of this single film). But you will like it, I can pretty much guarantee that. I was sucked in almost immediately and lost valuable sleep time, but don't regret a moment of it.


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