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The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)

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In 1946, a hooded serial killer terrorizes the residents of a small Texas town.

Director:

Charles B. Pierce

Writer:

Earl E. Smith
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Johnson ... Captain J.D. Morales
Andrew Prine ... Deputy Norman Ramsey
Dawn Wells ... Helen Reed
Jimmy Clem ... Sgt. Mal Griffin
Jim Citty Jim Citty ... Police Chief R.J. Sullivan
Charles B. Pierce ... Patrolman A.C. Benson
Robert Aquino Robert Aquino ... Sheriff Otis Barker
Cindy Butler ... Peggy Loomis
Christine Ellsworth Christine Ellsworth ... Linda Mae Jenkins
Earl E. Smith Earl E. Smith ... Dr. Kress (as Earl E. Smith)
Steve Lyons Steve Lyons ... Roy Allen
Joe Catalanotto Joe Catalanotto ... Eddie LeDoux (as Joe Catalanatto)
Roy Lee Brown Roy Lee Brown ... Rainbow Johnson
Mike Hackworth Mike Hackworth ... Sammy Fuller
Misty West Misty West ... Emma Lou Cook
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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

Taglines:

Not Everyone Who Comes to This Lover's Lane Has the Same Thing on Their Mind. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 December 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dreaded Sundown See more »

Filming Locations:

Texarkana, Texas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$400,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$5,000,000, 31 December 1976
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The 2013 Shout Factory Blu-ray/DVD release contains an onscreen essay in the bonus features called "The Phantom of Texarkana". The author refers to this film as a "creepy Techniscope horror film". While it's true that Charles B. Pierce shot two of his previous films on 2-perf 35mm Techniscope, The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) and Winterhawk (1975), he actually shot this film on 4-perf 35mm Panavision anamorphic. It was the third film that he had shot using the anamorphic format, the previous ones being The Winds of Autumn (1976) on Panavision and Bootleggers (1974) on Todd-AO 35. See more »

Goofs

Several times in the movie when we see a close-up of the cops driving in their car, you can see rows of houses behind them out the back window of their car, but in the immediate next wide angle shot they're out in the wooded countryside, with no houses anywhere in sight See more »

Quotes

Narrator: And when the sun went down... there was an eery, ghostly appearance to this town.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in 42nd Street Forever, Volume 2: The Deuce (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

In the Solid B-Movie Tradition
14 June 2012 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

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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