Almost like clockwork, as soon as any form of remake of a Horror film is announced, Horror fans rally behind the older film hailing it as a classic that should be left alone. Even if the film was a somewhat obscure proto-slasher that nobody hated, yet few loved…Suddenly it’s everyone’s favorite film once the remake wagon comes around. Upon viewing the trailer for 2014’s The Town That Dreaded Sundown, I was intrigued. This seemed more than just a remake…was it a sequel?
The end result is that the film is sort of a real-life remake…If that makes sense. The story acknowledges the existence of the 1976 Charles B Pierce film in that it was based off true events that happened in Texarkana. When the Phantom killer re-emerges, it’s unclear whether he is copy-catting the film, or if he has some connection to the original Phantom. It creates an odd parallel between fantasy becoming reality and the past repeating itself. Where is the line between the two? IS there even a line at all?
The story is largely the same as the original, a killer wearing a burlap sack over his face terrorizes Texarkana with (seemingly) random killings while a less than competent police force struggles to keep up. While the tone of the original is an atypical amalgamation of slapstick humor and straightlaced Horror documentary. Inconsistent in its purpose, the film still has a twisted charm. The new film is a compete alteration. Hard-boiled and edgy, the film is Dark from the get-go. This is a film designed to frighten and shock.
If there is ever a reason to relaunch a property, it should be to add something new to it…to add to the legend, as it were. This film is neither a remake, sequel or re-imagining yet accomplishes the unique goal of furthering the legend of the original crimes, as well as continuing the legacy of the 1976 film. Even as a stand alone film, this works extremely well as a eerie slasher without any over the top gimmicks. This is a film fast on it’s way to being a modern classic.