CULT FACTION

For all your cult film, tv, cartoon, comic and video game needs

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)

The film is somewhat loosely based on the actual crimes attributed to an unidentified serial killer known as the Phantom Killer; it claims that “the incredible story you are about to see is true, where it happened and how it happened; only the names have been changed.” The actual Phantom attacked eight people between February 22, 1946 and May 3, 1946 in or near the town of Texarkana, Texas, which is on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Most of the murders occurred in rural areas just outside of Texarkana, in Bowie County, Texas, while the film has them occurring in Arkansas. However, the general outline of the murders largely follows the reality, with mostly minor artistic license taken. As in the film, the real killer was never identified nor apprehended.

The film is loose enough with the facts that one family member of a victim filed a lawsuit in 1978, over its depiction of his sister. The fabricated facts in the film have also caused rumors and folklore to spread for generations around Texarkana. The film’s tagline claims that the man who killed five people “still lurks the streets of Texarkana, Ark.”, causing officials of that neighboring city to threaten Pierce over the ads in 1977; however, it remained on the posters.

The film was produced and directed by Charles B. Pierce who also co-stars as a bumbling police officer named A.C. Benson, also known as “Sparkplug”. Pierce’s fifth film is narrated by Vern Stierman who had previously narrated Pierce’s 1972 film The Legend of Boggy Creek. Ben Johnson stars as Captain J.D. Morales, the fictionalized version of real-life Texas Ranger Captain M. T. “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas. Dawn Wells (Mary Ann of Gilligan’s Island) appears as one of the victims. Cindy Butler (Pierce’s girlfriend at the time) plays Peggy Loomis, the trombone victim. The Phantom is played by Bud Davis, who later worked as stunt coordinator on films such as Forrest Gump, Cast Away, and Inglourious Basterds.

The film was mostly shot around Texarkana, and a number of locals were cast as extras. The world premiere was held in Texarkana on December 17, 1976, before its regular run in theaters on December 24. The film is an early example of a slasher film, having been released two years before Halloween (1978), and just two years after Black Christmas (1974), a film considered as one of the earliest in the genre.

Related Posts
Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century (1999)

Based on Marilyn Sadler and Roger Bollen's book of the same name, Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century was directed by Kenneth Johnson and set in the year 2049. It Read more

Yatterman

Originally running between 1977-1979 for 108 episodes, Yatterman succeeded Time Bokan and followed what happened after fragments of a mysterious stone known as the Skull Stone are scattered across the Read more

Welcome to Paradox

Debuting in 1998 and running for thirteen episodes, Welcome to Paradox was an anthology show where all the stories took place in the fictional future city of Betaville although the Read more

Timecrimes (2007)

Written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, Timecrimes (aka Los Cronocrímenes) is a Spanish science-fiction thriller. In the documentary Future Shock! The Story of 2000 AD Nacho Vigalondo credits 2000 AD comic magazine Read more

The Rise of Skywalker – One 40 Something’s ‘Obsessed Fanboy’ pre-release thoughts…

No one likes an 'I told you so', so let's get the unpleasant bit out of the way. I told you so. Back in Feb 2018, whilst I was still Read more

The New Adventures of Gilligan

The New Adventures of Gilligan is basically the same plot as the original sitcom Gilligan's Island. It ran for two seasons (24 episodes) and saw, like the sitcom, a first mate Read more

The Maze (1953)

Directed by William Cameron Menzies, The Maze was 3-D horror film that deals with teratology and prenatal phylogenetic evolution. It begins when Scotsman Gerald MacTeam (Richard Carlson) abruptly ends his Read more

The legacy of Santa Claus: The Movie

Santa Claus: The Movie was supposed to be the holiday hit of 1985. Such was the confidence that farther and son producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind had managed to get Read more

The Herculoids

Somewhere out in space live The Herculoids! Zok, the laser-ray dragon! Igoo, the giant rock ape! Tundro, the tremendous! Gloop and Gleep, the formless, fearless wonders! With Zandor, their leader, Read more

The Degrassi Legacy and why it matters

In a time when the world was over exposed to glamorised American teenage dramas where teens were being played by thirty years olds a dramatic shift happened. The seeds of Read more

Founded Cult Faction in 2014. Some would describe him as a teacher, writer, dream weaver, and visionary... some would not...

%d bloggers like this: