Thursday, January 8, 2015

Movie Review: "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" (1976)

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Movie"The Town That Dreaded Sundown"
Director: Charles B. Pierce
Year: 1976
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

The town of Texarkana, which lies on the border of Texas and Arkansas, is thrown into a state of constant fear when a man wearing a white sack over his head starts assaulting and murdering random people. The police bring in renowned Texas Ranger J.D. Morales (Ben Johnson) to help solve the case along with an army of police officers, but with no real clues or leads, "The Moonlight Killer" leaves law enforcement baffled as he strikes over and over again. 

As far as villain get-ups go, a simple canvas sack over the head is pretty freakin' frightening. Unfortunately, "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" is not all that scary or suspenseful. It's not a bad movie by any means, but it's more of a crime drama than a horror or thriller movie. It is based on true events, as many slasher movies are, though this film does stick closer the actual true events than many based on true stories do. It seems to play out on screen more like a documentary than a fictional film filled with character development, real drama and emotion. The movie is able to show a more realistic depiction of a serial killer than other films have in the past. The Moonlight Killer has no supernatural abilities and he is not a super human, he is just a regular person terrorizing one town with relative ease. The terror he instills on Texarkana is real and raw, but it's also sort of underplayed at the same time because there are no personal story lines in this movie. None of the characters are that developed. There are two "hero cops," who handle the primary investigation, and the other comedic relief cop, who yells at people on the phone and bumbles his driving. It all feels very dated and overly Southern in its execution. It is basically a depiction of a random series of events purported by one person on a murdering spree. It primarily relies on a narrator to tell the story, and this narration is just okay.

Even though it's not super long, "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" does move slowly at times, which could be attributed to its documentary feel. Overall, there are better, more thrilling horror/crime dramas out there. This movie did get remade in 2014, so maybe we will catch that eventually to compare.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 50%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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