The Town That Dreaded Sundown

Production Year: 1976
Release Date: 05/21/2013
Studio: Shout/Scream Factory
Collection Number: 852

It's the mid 1940's.  A young couple stop at a secluded "lovers lane" to have some alone time.  Before anything serious gets started the woman claims to hear a noise outside.  Assuming it's just her cold feet the man gets agitated until he too hears something out in the woods.  Suddenly a hooded man steps out of the darkness.  The couple would be dragged from the car and severely beaten, but for whatever reason their lives were spared...Mercy this serial killer would likely not show again. The Town That Dreaded Sundown is one of the few horror films that actually lives up to it's claim of being based on true events.  The phantom killer was a real man and he did actually stalk the citizens of Texarkana for a stretch of time.  The film does follow most of the events with some accuracy though some aspects have been given a "cinematic" quality.  Once the killer shows the town that he truly is a threat the local police bring in a well known detective and a massive investigation starts.  The longer the hooded psychopath stalks Texarkana the more vicious his crimes get.

There are a few instances of comic relief scattered around the movie, which does lessen some of the horror present, however it likely won't put off any viewers.  This flick is definitely a precursor to some of the slasher movies that would soon come barreling out, if you're a fan of those you certainly owe it to yourself to check this one out.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown is finally presented on DVD and Blu-ray thanks to the fine folks at Scream Factory.  It's given the full high definition treatment, the print was cleaned up rather nicely and aside from some specks and lines it looks great. The audio is a lossless 2.0 track, not as nice as some of their past releases sadly, but it's not awful.  The set comes loaded with supplements, there are three separate interview featurettes; Small Town Law Man (Andrew Prine,) Survivor Stories (Dawn Wells,) and Eye of the Beholder (James Roberson.)  There's also a trailer, a still gallery, and an essay about the real life "Phantom of Texarkana."

 Along with all of that the DVD in the set contains another Charles B. Pierce feature, The Evictors.  Things have been a bit hectic here in Oklahoma and I've yet to check out the second feature, I did however watch a few minutes so I can comment on the quality of the print, it's a bit rougher looking that Town.  The print does show it's age and from what I understand the materials just weren't available to give this movie a proper high definition transfer so Scream decided to tack this onto Town's blu-ray release.  I really enjoyed the Town that Dreaded Sundown and I look forward to returning to this feature when I've got a little more time available.  Expect a review of that one soon.

 It's hard to believe that this film has taken so long to make the jump from VHS.  This movie was on a lot of people's wishlists and I'm happy that a company like Scream Factory came along and did it right.