The Town That Dreaded Sundown Review:
This is not the 2014 remake by the same name, but the 1976 original that many argue was an influence on the then upcoming slasher genre. I went into this movie with high hopes and expectations, and was both happy and disappointed to say that it just barely met those standards.
Let’s talk about the cast. The movie has a great set of leads in the form of the policemen and the ranger. They all are dedicated and relatable in their efforts to stop this brutal killer. Each member gets a sufficient amount of development, be that very little.
Then there’s the comic relief. He’s stupid, annoying, and unnatural. The movie has scenes of sheer brutality and intensity followed or preceded by jolts of awkward humor. I don’t know what the director was going for when he put that it in the movie.
However, most of that was saved by the villain. The Phantom was a surprisingly scary and intimidating antagonist. His realism, costume, and violence made his presence onscreen formidable, and nearly fifty years later he can still scare the audience.
The plot is about as good as the cast. It’s a fascinating and mostly fact-based story, making it all the more surreal. You feel engaged in the manhunt and the lives of the men as we follow them. That’s why the short runtime of this movie flies by as you’re engulfed in their world of small town murder.
Nonetheless,, the horrible moments of comedy in this movie which stupidly lightens the tone are unforgivable. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre came out two years before this and Halloween two years after, both films proved you could have a consistently serious and high quality slasher film. The Town That Dreaded Sundown has no excuse.
Overall, this movie is an engaging, well-acted, and surprisingly scary slasher film that’s based more in fact that most would like to believe. The only drawback is that its phenomenal villain and well-written story are horribly bogged down by misplaced and unfunny humor that has no place in this forgotten slasher genre. 7.1/10