This is a movie poster blast from the past.. it was called THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN, and a was loosely based on the ‘Phanton Killer’ or the ‘Texarkana Moonlight Murders‘ that took place ni 1946..
The other evening, I got the chance to watch the 2014 remake of this 1976 classic.. The redo was interesting. It was like DICK TRACY meets SCREAM, a movie with cartoonish appeal that also featured a ‘we know this is a horror movie’ attitude like Wes Craven’s late 20th century horror series..
However, any time I watch a remake, I typically go back and watch the original. Either for posterity or just because I want to check off the similarities and differences between each incarnation..
The original SUNDOWN film wasn’t exceptional by any stretch of imagination.. But it created a new genre–it may be one of the least known movies that started the slasher flicks of the late 70s and all of the 1980s. The TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN was brutal at times and most likely difficult to view during some moments in theaters during the Carter years..
But there was one thing that THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN got right in 1976: One of the most memorable posters I have ever seen for a movie, especially a horror flick.. There’s something freakish about that sunset image and the town, that lonely town, tucked safely but dangerously between the trees and mountains.. And that foreboding image of the Phantom with his freakish mask that only displays two eye holes..
This poster has stuck in my mind for years.. Since I was younger and first stayed up late without my parents knowing to watch this on Rhonda Shear’s UP ALL NIGHT, I remembered that poster. . and that quaint image of Americana destroyed by a masked villain to stole innocence..
I was born in 1980, years after this original film.. But as a child of the 1980s, a certain spirit of the 70s was bred into my in my early life..
This image presented on the poster haunted me for two distinct reasons: 1) It reminded me of the scene from ET where Halloweeners begin to the roam the streets at sundown, and 2) the image looks amazingly like the town I grew up in the 80s, Centralia PA–a town with an underground mine fire that met its demise because of that crisis..
This post is not a movie review .. I quite frankly disliked the new remake and the original was lackluster. But it was important in the history of horror movies. It gave us the slasher flick.
And it gave me chills each time I thought about that hauntingly beautiful movie poster..
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