The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)

Time to keep on keeping on. Day 14 of my #31DaysOfHorror! Play along on Instagram with the tag #BarleyDoesHorror.

Town that Dreaded Sundown Lobby Card 1

I hadn’t really heard much about this movie, except for a passing reference in the Scream movie (“Man, It’s like the town that dreaded sundown..”), and then I heard rumblings about a remake coming this year (which, upon a quick search is actually a sequel(?) with the same title… I guess?) So, what’s this movie about anyways :

A Texas Ranger hunts for a hooded serial killer terrorizing the residents of a small town, set in 1946 Arkansas. Loosely based on a true story.

So, this was another case of “How have I not seen this movie?!”-itis and I’m pretty pleased that I was able to drink it in. This is an insanely fun little 70s slasher flick, and it really does give you everything you want from a movie of this type from this time. It’s fun, grim, and at times… pretty god damn bizarre. A scene that stands out in particular involves a trombone and the way-to-long death scene of a young woman. There are some hilariously bad day-for-night scenes, and some really bizarre editing throughout. All in though, it’s really just so much fun. Plus, it further proves that all you need to have a creepy villain in your film is a burlap sack with a couple of eye holes in it.



The casting is great, and there’s really not much more to say about this. Everyone does a fine job, and characters are all very likable. Even the bumbling buffoon affectionately called “Sparkplug”. Ben Johnson does a great job, and everyone seems to be pretty well-humoured and delivers pretty solid performances all the way around.

The story is ripe with what we now consider to be ‘standard fare’ in slasher movies, but it’s always nice to see the early phases of these tropes and cliches. It’s the most fun way to watch horror history, never mind documentaries, watch the classics and you’ll learn a whole lot about where the things you love come from. Though, there are also some really awesome horror documentaries…so… forget what I said. The story clips along, though there are some pretty weirdly long scenes, as I mentioned before. Though, it really just seems to add some charm to the movie rather than irritate you. Nothing feels especially incompetent, and everything has such a great tone for a slasher movie. It’s always hard to take, at least for me, when a slasher flick takes it self too seriously and so it’s always nice when you see one that really..understand what should be happening.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (10)

It’s not especially gory, or violent, but does have some pretty genuinely intense and disturbing scenes. These scenes are well balanced with some great humour and really over all you just have an incredibly fun movie. So, if you want to take a journey back to the 70s with a horror movie that you might not have seen before, why not give this one a look.




One response to “The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)

  1. Pingback: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) | Barley Does Horror·

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