When MGM emerged from its recent financial woes, the studio all but announced that it's was in the remake business. With several remakes already in development (including "Carrie" and "Robocop"), the studio can add another to its plate in "The Town that Dreaded Sundown."
Released in 1976, the original film is Charles Pierce's pseudo-documentary account of the infamous "Phantom Killer" murders that haunted the town of Texarkana back in the 1946. Over the course of three months, the murderer claimed five victims and attacked three others before disappearing.
The crime remains unsolved to this day, and Pierce's original film was a sensationalist recounting of killing spree; the film remains as unique now as it was then, as Pierce chose to dramatize the actual events and accompany the footage with a voiceover narration to give the film a documentary feel (Pierce had used a similar technique a few years earlier in "The Legend of Boggy Creek").
Pierce's approach didn't exactly spawn hordes of imitators, though it's arguable that "The Town that Dreaded Sundown" was a precursor to shows like "Unsolved Mysteries." In fact, the entire film just feels like a vignette from that show stretched out to feature length. The only thing that's missing is Robert Stack's ominous intonations.
The original film has since become something of a cult classic, with the killer's burlap sack getup having become semi-iconic (and an inspiration for Jason Voorhees's original look in "Friday the 13th Part 2"). For several years, it remained a bit of a home video holy grail since MGM never released it onto DVD; however, the studio has licensed it out to Shout Factory, who will finally release a special edition next year.
If nothing else, give MGM a little bit of credit for plucking this one from the ranks of obscurity; it's been mining some bigger properties recently, but this one is a little off the board and open to a reinterpretation.
At this point, the film has simply been announced as a call to writers to submit their pitches, so fans will have to wait and see what shape this ends up taking. Hopefully it will revive interest in the work of Pierce, who passed away a couple of years ago and left a unique, almost homespun legacy with his films.
- Arts & Entertainment