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The Town that Dreaded Sundown

Do you remember Ed Wood?

He was the 1950's B-Movie writer/director that was so bad he became a legend and was even played by Johnny Depp in the Tim Burton film, "Ed Wood".

If you ever wondered what happened to Mr. Wood, look no more, he was re-incarnated as Charles B. Pierce, the hilariously inept filmmaker behind the inexplicable 1976 box-office hit THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN.

This movie is SO bad, it's kind of hilarious.

A hooded killer is preying on young romantic couples as they make out in the 1950's hot rods, spreading terror (but not so much terror that they avoid making out in the woods in their hot rods) and panic in Texarkana.

The local sheriff is played by self-important B-actor Andrew Prine, who now claims that he had to write the end of the film because they were filming without one.

I would believe him ('cause the ending's crap) but he made an almost identical claim about his other 70's acting masterpiece "Grizzly" a shameless JAWS ripoff. In that film he said he had to write a speech about why his hunter hated bears so much. In his "original" speech he clearly rips off Robert Shaw's "Indianapolis" speech from Jaws, replacing the sharks with bears. It's unintentionally fall over funny, as is Prine's false ego.

Poor Ben Johnson, a superb actor (The Getaway, The Last Picture Show) is stuck here playing a big city detective in Texarkana to catch our hooded killer. He is so clearly the best actor aboard that everyone just blows away from him on the screen like a hot Texas wind (that line is better than anything in the screenplay).

There is a pivotal chase scene in the film, its action climax (as such) that is strangely staged with comedy mixed in as a bumbling deputy loses control of his patrol car and drives into a lake. To make it worse, the music score takes on a Blake Edwards comedy vibe that completely ruins any tension.

Dawn Wells (Mary Ann from "Gilligan's Island") plays one of the killer's victims and numerous bit actors show up in very distracting fashion in many small parts, causing a constant game of "hey, wasn't that witness just a waiter in the last scene?".

Continuity, plot and tone were definitely not master filmmaker Pierce's strong suits.

Long unavailable and just recently released by Shout Factory on Blu-Ray and to cable movie networks, this hilarious mess features plenty of actors clearly waiting to enter the frame and hit their marks, reporters with index cards with a handwritten "PRESS" on them stuck in their hats, plenty of shadows of boom mikes and a final three minutes that is lifted directly from Pierce's other big 70's box office hit, "The Legend of Boggy Creek". Same exact footage, different voice over.

Do you all see what happened back then when we didnt have a bunch of cable stations and the internet? We somehow turn this cinematic turd into a word-of-mouth hit at the box office.

What WERE we thinking????

As a drama, a capital F. As an unintentional comedy and a thesis on bad filmmaking, it gets a big W in honor of Ed Wood.

Do what all the moronic victims of the hooded killer DON'T do here if you see this movie available...RUN!!!

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