The Town That Dreaded Sundown - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Town That Dreaded Sundown Reviews

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December 18, 2017
an awful film thats not scary or interesting
½ August 4, 2017
This is a different take on the slasher film, and it came out a few years before the craze set in. Let's start with the bad: the painful comedy routines. They all involve the irritating character Sparkplug, played by the director himself. The scenes featuring our Phantom killer are flawless, however. At times the movie almost feels like a documentary, featuring matter of fact narration. We also get strong performances from Ben Johnson, Andrew Priner and a short but memorable cameo from Dawn Wells. If you can stomach the intrusive gags and corny humor, the rest is very well done.
February 2, 2017
Great cinematography, very real... I just wish the goofy cop hadn't made the cut. He really spoils the tension.
½ October 19, 2016
31 Days of Horror 2016 #10
July 12, 2016
The true story behind this film so tragically fascinating that Pierce takes upon himself to create atmosphere and chills, especially the trombone death.
Super Reviewer
July 12, 2016
For some reason it tries to be both funny and scary, but fails at both and ends up floundering somewhere between the two.
July 5, 2016
What makes this movie stands out above a lot of other the typical slasher movies is in how it's shot. The feel, atmosphere, and even the quality of the film being used makes it look like news footage. That may sound like a bad thing, but it's really not. It gives it this sense of, and I can't believe I'm saying this, realism. Yep a movie about a Jason-like serial killer is more real than a lot of other movies of this kind there are. It just sinks you into the point where you feel you're not watching a movie, but watching a live feed of people getting massacred. It's the atmosphere that is certainly the reason for watching. That said, it can't be entirely saved from some okay acting, and some bad, and I mean bad, comic relief.
May 17, 2016
Based on a true story, The Town That Dreaded Sundown brings its terrifying historical subject to the big screen with enough atmosphere and quiet chills to capture the mystery and suspense of its fact-based narrative.
½ April 21, 2016
One of the first major slasher films that helped shape the genre. Uneven (nobody enjoys the Barney Fife-like antics of director Charles B. Pierce's character of Officer Sparkplug Benson, it seems) but they took a real life tragedy and gave us the campfire tale version with assertive direction, good performances, and, of course, some grisly murders. This might all seem like old school kid's stuff to the hardcore aficionados of your "Saws" and your "Hostels," but THIS was a true story. Whether he still lurks the streets of Texarkana is anybody's guess, but this film is a monumental achievement in horror and true crime cinema.
April 5, 2016
Sturdy but dated early attempt at the slasher formula. The little violence in the movie is striking and its documentary style approach is unique but it just hasn't aged well with slack pacing and bizarre attempts at comedy.
December 16, 2015
The original movie was a lot better than its sequel. There wasn't too much focus on the killings, only a few. The movie mainly investigated trying to capture him and following the police throughout the film in their effort to apprehend the Texarkana Killer. There was a narrator. Very rare to horror films, I like it a lot. This movie probably isn't even horror to begin with, it basically is a Mystery film. I felt it was much more enjoyable than the sequel, which didn't have much thought put into it.
½ November 8, 2015
Really ain't a bad flick. It's an early example of a slasher film, but also mixes horror with mystery and crime. But it also feels like you're watching a documentary about the real life murders, that's what it is, it's a do cu-drama. The acting is alright but the film is supported by Ben Johnson and his role as a highly acclaimed sheriff. There isn't actually too many deaths in this movie but the gore meter is satisfying. The movie also relies on atmosphere and it work very well, it even has a slit touch of comedy. Recommended !!
½ October 26, 2015
There's a certain kitschy quality to this. The voiceover adds to the enigma of the real-life case, upon which this is loosely based. It adds up to an entertaining film. It is (to date) the only slasher film I've seen that contains a death by trombone.
½ October 25, 2015
A semi-documentary, semi-horror, semi-comedy, semi-what-the-hell-did-I-just-watch film that is shoddily paced, not frightening in the slightest, and quite a bore to sit through with a title that would be better-suited for a vampire movie. This film is loosely based on a true serial killer from the 40s in Arkansas who much like the Zodiac killer, went on a killing spree aimed at couples, and was never caught by the authorities. The true story however is a lot more terrifying than this movie and its horrendous inclusion of slapstick comedy switched the tone drastically and at times I felt like I was watching, The Dukes of Hazzard. The killer himself is the best part of the film as they stress he is a normal man living amongst the town and he could literally be anyone and his "mask" inspired Jason's first appearance in Friday the 13th Part 2. There is a RIDICULOUS murder scene where the killer attaches a knife to a trombone and mock-plays it to stab a woman in the back; a disturbing-enough idea, but the execution is pretty lame. Then for no apparent reason the movie takes a meta-spin at the very end when this film is coming out in theaters and you see the killer's feet standing in line to see literally broke the movie. Overall, this is a slasher movie I'd heard of in passing and it certainly has credible material to bring to the screen, however, almost nothing in this worked for me and the unnecessary narration of every other scene made this feel like a made-for-TV, docu-drama and I almost wouldn't even call it a horror film.
½ October 4, 2015
A very different kind of slasher movie. How is it different? Well, it's kind of like a pseudo-documentary shot almost like old 50s instructional/educational video (well, most of the time at least). You get these out of place moments where the cops are being goofy, and it has a very contrasting tone to the moments where the killer is tying girls up to trees and shooting people in the head.

This may not be for everyone that wants to just see a body count and blood. And the parts with the police that are a bit goofier may put off some viewers who want the movie to be taken a bit more seriously. For me though, I enjoyed it and it was something different than most slashers you would see from the time. This movie I feel had a reputation for being gritty and brutal, which it's not. It's just different, and in the horror genre that's what I'm always looking for.
September 29, 2015
The film's anticipation is full of suspense, however the film itself certainly lacks the shock value of other violent slasher films at the time, such as 'Maniac'. I'm looking forward to watching the 2014 meta-sequel.
August 25, 2015
Based on the true story of the unsolved Phantom killings this film suffers from an identity crisis, does it want to be a slasher? a docudrama? a murder mystery or a bumbling cop crime caper? It attempts to be all and so slightly misses the mark. It does have some influence on films that came after it the hooded killer breathing heavily as he stalks is truly menacing but not in keeping with the light feel to other parts of the film. The narration actually takes you out of the story far too often making more difficult to fully invest. All in all even in it's day this must have seemed a bit dated in comparison to say Black Christmas that came out two years prior. All this isn't to say it's not a good film it has it's charms and is based on a truly fascinating true unsolved case. If you are looking for all out Horror film though the remake / follow up reboot might be worth a look.
Super Reviewer
July 26, 2015
One of the most overlooked horror films, The Town That Dreaded Sundown is based on a series of real life double homicides in Texarkana where the killer was never found. Unlike other slashers, the film used a pseudo-documentary style and eerie atmosphere to generate fear. It was really silly at times and the ending was ridiculous but nevertheless, it should be watched just once.
½ July 12, 2015
This was an enjoyable movie about a town being stalked by a killer in bag mask.
Shot partially documentary style and has some laughs.
Not overly violent but very enjoyable.
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