HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Gretel and Hansel
Mademoiselle
Tunnel, The
India Song
Last Rhino, The
Made in Hong Kong
Ring of Spies
Rom Boys: 40 Years of Rad
Pocketful of Miracles
The Tomb: Devil's Revenge
Sidecar Racers
Space Dogs
Out/Marriage
Safety Last!
Bride Who Has Returned from Hell, The
Show Boat
Savage
City Called Dragon, A
I Used to Go Here
Six Suspects
Still the Water
Not Now, Comrade
I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Wives of the Skies
Two Heads Creek
Next Stop, Greenwich Village
Captain, The
Great Wall, A
Trout, The
Zorba the Greek
Horror Crowd, The
Matthias & Maxime
Bullet for the President, A
Constant Husband, The
Anbessa
Man in Grey, The
Harakiri
Way to the Stars, The
Man Who Skied Down Everest, The
Bottoms Up!
   
 
Newest Articles
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
   
 
  Town That Dreaded Sundown, The Ol' Sackhead is back
Year: 2014
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Stars: Addison Timlin, Veronica Cartwright, Anthony Anderson, Travis Tope, Joshua Leonard, Andy Abele, Gary Cole, Edward Herrmann, Ed Lauter, Arabella Field, Denis O'Hare, Spencer Treat Clark, Wes Chatham, Morganna May, Jaren Mitchell
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Neither strictly a remake nor sequel, this flawed but ambitious and interesting meta-horror draws on the pop cultural legacy of Charles B. Pierce's original 1976 true-crime slasher film. Based on a real, unsolved murder case from 1946, Pierce's film proved surprisingly popular in the town where the so-called Phantom committed his crimes: Texarkana, Texas. There it is screened each year on Halloween as what the narrator of the 2014 version, somewhat dubiously, calls a "tribute to the Phantom's legacy of fear and blood."

At a drive-in screening of the original Town That Dreaded Sundown orphaned high school girl Jami (Addison Timlin) grows squeamish so boyfriend Corey (Spencer Treat Clark) drives her off to a secluded place so they can make out. Sure enough, their petting session is interrupted by a sack-masked Phantom. He brutally murders Corey but leaves Jami bloodied but alive with the message: "This is for Mary, make them remember." Once more the town of Texarkana is stricken with terror as more courting couples die violent deaths. Local preacher Reverend Cartwright (Edward Herrmann) blames it all on the "godless" movie while Texas ranger Lone Wolf Morales (Anthony Anderson) joins dodgy deputies Tillman (Gary Cole) and Foster (Joshua Leonard) to track the killer. Meanwhile a traumatized Jami struggles with survivor's guilt trying to adjust to a normal life when the Phantom taunts her with e-mails and phone-calls. Teaming up with creepy Nick (Travis Tope), a crime archivist at the Sheriff's department with a crush on Jami, she sets after the Phantom herself.

Co-producers Jason Blum, of Blumhouse Productions: the outfit behind Paranormal Activity (2007) and Insidious (2010), and Ryan Murphy the man behind Glee and perhaps more pertinently American Horror Story, score genre brownie points by casting Veronica Cartwright, veteran of The Birds (1963) and Alien (1979), as Jami's grandmother. While the film foolishly squanders Anthony Anderson's charismatic turn as Lone Wolf Morales and, compared with the original, sidelines the police investigators on the whole, Addison Timlin registers very strongly as the cruelly victimized heroine. Jamie's personal struggle to not allow the murders define herself or her future is the most compelling aspect of The Town That Dreaded Sundown 2014. Despite a handful of in-jokes, including a brief cameo from a character called Sparkplug (the comic relief portrayed by Charles B. Pierce himself in the original) and some darkly comic sex killings, the film distances itself from the nudge and wink tone of jokey slashers like Scream (1996). It is a gloomy, downbeat, slightly depressing psychological study of victimization and lives shattered by the legacy of a murderer. The killer's victims are not the usual obnoxious types but instead drawn as caring, occasionally even tragic characters which leaves their brutal deaths much more shattering.

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon plays meta games: cross-cutting new scenes with footage from the original, re-staging famous moments (this time a closeted interracial gay couple suffer the infamous death by trombone) and even has Denis O'Hare portray the son of Charles B. Pierce as a sort of dissolute variation on Randy the Film Geek. He claims his dad was a genius who could have been another Orson Welles (ha!) if he had gone to Hollywood but chose to remain in Texas to tell Texan stories. In reality, Pierce did make it to Hollywood only as a set decorator on mainstream films though he also co-wrote the Dirty Harry sequel Sudden Impact (1983). The screenplay by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Earl E. Smith critiques Pierce's film for exploiting real crimes but kind of does the same thing. It never clarifies the intention behind a muddled subtext that seems to imply the townsfolk brought this horror on themselves. Gomez-Rejon is clearly a gifted filmmaker and stages several suspenseful scenes rife with retro-Seventies style but fumbles a few would-be shock twists that fail to make a dramatic impact. It is a well made, well acted, handsome looking film yet uncertain about what it is really trying to say.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1189 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: