In 1946, the town of Texarkana was terrorized by a serial killer, known as the Phantom Killer, whose identity has never been confirmed. Thirty years later, the killings were the basis for the 1976 slasher film The Town That Dreaded Sundown, which is screened every year on Halloween. Following one of these screenings, high school graduate Jami (Addison Timlin) is attacked by an apparent copycat Phantom Killer, who brutally murders Jami’s date and tells her “This is for Mary, make them remember.” With Texarkana plagued with new murders that mirror the original, Jami and her friend Nick (Travis Tope) try to solve the mystery of who the original Phantom Killer was, in the hopes of revealing the identity of this new Phantom.
My familiarity with the original Town That Dreaded Sundown was pretty much limited to the poster art and the knowledge that it was inspired by a real serial killer. With many classic horror films being unnecessarily remade, The Town That Dreaded Sundown was a very pleasant surprise. With the original being a cult film at best, it was the perfect type of horror film to be remade for the modern age.
The Town That Dreaded Sundown follows the steps of films like Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and Scream to be a self-referential meta-remake that exists in a world where the original film is a huge cult hit. Scenes from the original are heavily featured in the film, with the old kills being contrasted with the new ones. The kills in the film are quite tense and brutal, with this modern Phantom Killer being a truly terrifying villain. It should also be added that this film is impeccably well shot. Altogether, The Town That Dreaded Sundown is a pretty decent example of how remakes should be done.8 | LIKED IT