This reboot of the 1976 movie The Town That Dreaded Sundown resurrects in the national consciousness not only a cult-classic horror movie, but a true crime nightmare for the residents of the Texarkana-area dating back to the 1940s.
The 1976 version of the movie was loosely-based on a series of brutal attacks and murders that took place in the Texarkana-area in 1946 known as the Moonlight Murders. The sick and vicious attacks were committed by a masked killer dubbed the Phantom Killer, or just the Phantom, who has never been caught.
The murders are remembered locally every year when Texarkana-area residents gather for a huge screening of The Town That Dreaded Sundown at ‘Movies in the Park’ at Spring Lake Park, near the site of one of the murders, an event briefly chronicled in the Joshua Zeman film Killer Legends (Cropsey is another excellent film by Joshua). Killer Legends makes a strong case that several nationally publicized crimes, like the Moonlight Murders, gave rise to many of the lovers-lane urban legends of today.
Nationally however, with Bundy and Dahmer and Ramirez so fresh in our consciousness, the Moonlight Murders have sunk from the level of a recent nightmare to a sub-conscious influence on our pop culture. The original Town That Dreaded Sundown, told in docudrama-style, preceded John Carpenter’s Halloween by two years in telling the story of a single psychopath stalking young people. The mask worn by the Phantom was blatantly ripped off in Friday the 13th part II, in which Jason wore a gunny sack mask with cutout eye-holes (he didn’t get the hockey mask until Friday part 3.)
With the release of the reboot, 2014’s The Town That Dreaded Sundown, is sure to reveal the Moonlight Murders to a whole new generation, with heavy dose of Hollywood fiction and theatrics thrown in.
Check out the trailer.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.