The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)

Another chilling docu-thriller from director Charles B. Pierce (who made The Ledgend of Boggy Creek in 1972), this film being his best!

It’s 1946, in the small town of Texarkana, Texas-Arkansas a hooded murderer is terrorizing the community and making the local law enforcement desperate.

Based upon the real events that surrounded one of America’s most baffling serial killers, this solidly made film is a compelling and generally under exposed fore-runner of the slasher genre. Director Pierce gives this film a nicely authentic feel of the era as well as a great atmosphere of dread. The movies strongest scenes are the re-enactments of the murders, which are effectively heart-pounding! Among the memorable moments is a creepy ‘murder-by-trombone’ and an intense stalking sequence with a bloodied Dawn Wells. Along with these thrilling bits comes some mild comic relief with the local police that thankfully don’t hamper the proceedings. The moody music score is also a good touch.

The cast does well, veteran actor Ben Johnson is good as a criminal specialist, as is Andrew Prine as a local deputy. Director Pierce himself appears as a bumbling police officer.

An entertaining thriller from its shocking opening to its haunting conclusion, The Town That Dreaded Sundown is a B movie winner.