The Town That Dreaded Sundown
A hooded masked killer and "Gilligan’s Island" star Dawn Wells...what else could one ask for in a low-budget ’70s horror film? Yes, "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" is finally out on Blu-ray, but don’t be misled by the artwork or marketing. This is essentially a documentary film.
"The Town That Dreaded Sundown" was one of many films of its time to become hits on the drive-in circuit of the ’70s. It’s based on a Texarkana murder case from 1946 where an unknown person went on a killing spree and was never caught. The film features a narrator who guides the viewer through each murder depiction.
In between the murder set pieces, the movie features the town’s local officers (Ben Johnson and Andrew Prine) trying to solve the case. Dawn Wells has a short but effective scene as a real-life survivor of the infamous "Phantom Killer."
The charm of this cult movie is it has the feel of a History channel documentary while, at times, the murder reenactments can be chilling. One can also see that "Friday the 13th Part 2," featuring killer Jason in a burlap sack, may have been influenced by "The Town That Dreaded Sundown."
Bonus features include interviews with actors Andrew Prine and Dawn Wells. The audio commentary by historian Jim Presley goes into more detail about the 1946 murder case and there is an on-screen essay presentation by writer Brian Albright.
The DVD also includes the feature film "The Evictors," whose plot of small town murders is very similar to the story of "The Town That Dreaded Sundown."
"The Town That Dreaded Sundown"
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack