Monday, October 3, 2022

The Town That Dreaded Sundown

Not a bad way to start the most spectacular, wonderful, sublime time of the year.

My second review for a Charles B. Pierce film, and I gotta say I liked it a good fair bit but it was certainly not even slightly what I thought the film was going to be. I fully expected a proto-slasher film set in the early 1970s but what we get is more or less a biopic on the real life Phantom Killer crimes set in Texarkana after the end of World War 2. The production isn't that pure documentary style Charles Pierce used in The Legend Of Boggy Creek, the closest we get to that is his narration and some brief recycled footage from Boggy Creek at the tail end. So the story involves the police force of Texarkana Arkansas and a Texas Ranger trying to hunt down a serial killer that targets young couples in lovers lane locales. And the killer is not Jason Voorhees in Friday The 13th Part 2, just uncannily similar in design and strangely has that Michael Myers mask breathing down 2 years before Halloween. The movie definitely has it's roots firmly dug into Arkansas' small town and isolated homesteads scenery which works well for the movie and setting an ominous mood for the townsfolk. I found the thriller horror aspect adequately effective, I mean concept alone is scary enough but there were times in the middle of a chase with zero musical score that I did feel apprehensive and the heart quickened a notch and yes it did actually shock me with the violence a bit. Far from ultra graphic but just seeing someone get executed two shots in the back of the head or a touch of blood spraying on a wall really wowed me, you just don't expect to see that from a early 70s film, horror or not. So I appreciate that. The film tries for comedic moments and while they don't all work the film succeeds far far more than the comedy touches in Last House On The Left which were pretty much faceplantingly unnecessary from the word go, I can live without that but it doesn't negatively strike against the film. Which is interesting because two cops we follow, one almost has an Andy Griffith vibe to him while the other is a bumbling dummy much like Barney Pfeiffer, odd comparison and showing my dilapidated age but it did strike me as that. Of course we have our director also narrate and he just has such a warm, interesting, lovely voice and it would have been a treat to be in conversation with the man, but everytime he pops up I hang on every word. I believe I got a restoration copy of the film, originally it was shot on 35mm film which is pretty impressive and the movie looks damn good because of it, and it's all free on the YouTubes so check it out if you haven't already. I found it to be a simple but decent southern fried horror film, and I give it 3 stars, 7.5/10, and next time we got even more creepy masks and bloodshed to behold.

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