The Town That Dreaded Sundown - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Town That Dreaded Sundown Reviews

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May 8, 2019
A movie with its ups and its downs. The strong points are that it wrapes up a few intense scenes, as well as good music and Ben Johnson is also memorable in this docudrama. The fact that it's based on real-life murders makes it even more chilling. But unfortunately, the tone of this flick shifts, with some moments being ridiculously humorous, and it ruins the credibility of this fact based horror film. The dialogue can also be a little boring. It's not a perfect movie, but it is ambitious and for a low budget, I found it to be pretty well done. Recommended for horror fans!!
December 17, 2018
Ben Johnson and Andrew Prine star in this notorious drive-in movie thriller with cheap production values and some very silly sccenes.
Super Reviewer
October 19, 2018
The concept has a lot of promise. Even setting aside the horror, there'a so much to explore in how communities react to danger. Unfortunately all you get are sub par genre thrills.
½ October 8, 2018
Based on the true serial murders that took place in Arkansas in the mid 40's, The Town That Dreaded Sundown can be at times an effective horror movie. It has a creepy premise and the performance of Bud Davis as the killer is extremely chilling, just being able to terrify viewers through heavy breathing alone. The design of the killer's mask is also great, the pillowcase mask gives him an almost ghostlike appearance which is fitting for his nickname "The Phantom Killer". Unfortunately, The Town That Dreaded Sundown has some of the worst comic relief I have ever seen which completely ruins the creepy tone of the film. Throughout the movie cringe-worthy slapstick comic gags are played, which for me somewhat ruined the movie and thus at times made it seem incredibly silly.

Overall, The Town That Dreaded Sundown has some very decent moments throughout. It can be very suspenseful and creepy, however, it fails at being a truly effective horror movie due to some unbearable comic relief characters.
March 30, 2018
Had high hopes for this 70s slasher flick based on real life events. Boring and terrible acting kinda ruined it for me
March 22, 2018
A pseudo-documentary that explores the unsolved mystery of the phantom killer, a serial killer who terrorised Arkansas not long after WWII. The film contains some genuinely frightening moments, however there are also many times in the movie where the filmmakers attempt to put some unneeded slapstick comedy. For example in a scene where a car crashes into a lake they place cartoonish music, this does not work and clashes with the eerie tone of the rest of the film. Overall The Town That Dreaded Sundown is a decent horror/psuedo-documentary that tries and in the most part succeeds in capturing the paranoia that actually took place during the serial killer's attacks.
March 4, 2018
Beautiful shots and direction but some of the acting is a bit cheesy
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 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.
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