The Town That Dreaded Sundown

MARCH 13, 2007


The 2nd best thing about living in LA is the quality revival house, aka the New Beverly Cinema (1st best – the hilarity of watching everyone panic when it rains. Snow would probably lead to mass suicide.). Every couple nights they change their programming, showing usually two (sometimes three) films from the same director, or of a certain theme (recently, they showed Metropolis with Dark City! A+), all for a total of seven dollars.

The popcorn, however, is godawful.

Anyway, this month, to celebrate the release of Tarantino/Rodriguez’s “So Anticipated That If It Sucks It Will Take Five Years For Anyone To Admit It” Grindhouse, QT is lending them prints (from his own collection) of films that played in original grindhouses back in the 70s/early 80s. Granted, most of them are awful, but it’s still a superb promotional tool for film fans. Tonight’s theme was Texas, I guess? We got Rolling Thunder and The Town That Dreaded Sundown. Rolling Thunder is not a horror film but it’s highly recommended. I know it’s on video, not sure about DVD.

As for Sundown, I recall seeing the video in a dump bin in the mid 90s at my local Suncoast. And rightfully so. Chuck Pierce seemingly wanted to make a documentary, a slasher film, and a slapstick-y comedy, but couldn’t afford to make three films, so he combined them into one. We have a narrator explaining everything we see on screen (including dates) in between the murder scenes, some of which are fairly impressive (the last one in particular). Then there’s also the police investigation team, which includes Pierce himself as a Barney Fife-esque idiot nicknamed “Sparkplug”. The film jumps around the three styles with little to no (mostly no) rhyme or reason.

Thrill as the killer plays a deadly trombone! Laugh as Sparkplug drives the car directly into a swamp during a pursuit of the suspect! …Listen (I guess?) as the narrator tells you what people are doing as they do it on screen!!!

The final scene is one of the most hilarious meta scenes in film history, with the killer (who was never caught, or even identified, but we know it’s him because of his shoes) attending a screening of… The Town that Dreaded Sundown. Ha.

I can’t not recommend the film, because it’s so hilariously odd and disjointed, but since it’s fairly hard to find on video (no DVD as far as you know) it’s probably not worth the trouble. It’s probably best remembered as an awkwardly implements David Arquette line in Scream.

What say you?

1 comment:

  1. I saw this once when I was about twelve. Don't remember much about it apart from the trombone murder. I'd actually like to see a "Zodiac" type movie based on the events that inspired this one. That'll probably never happen though.


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