The Town That Dreaded Sundown – Best Buy Exclusive (Blu-ray Review)

Town-That-Dreaded-SundownRLJ Entertainment (NASDAQ: RLJE), under the Image Entertainment brand, announces the DVD release of the thriller THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN. Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me, Earl and The Dying Girl, “American Horror Story”), screenplay by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Carrie, “Glee”) and based on the 1976 cult-classic film of the same title directed by Charles B. Pierce. THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN will be available on DVD abd Blu-ray.  The film stars Addison Timlin (“Californication,” That Awkward Moment), newcomer Travis TopeGary Cole (“Veep,” Office Space), Joshua Leonard (“Bates Hotel,” The Blair Witch Project), Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish,” The Departed), Denis O’Hare (“American Horror Story,” Dallas Buyers Club), Edward Herrmann (“The Good Wife,” “Gilmore Girls”) and Veronica Cartwright (The Birds, Alien). It is produced by Jason Blum (the Paranormal Activity franchise, Sinister) and Ryan Murphy (“American Horror Story,” “Glee”).

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Based on a terrifying true story, THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN picks up 65 years after a masked serial killer terrorized the small town of Texarkana, when the brutal “Moonlight Murders” suddenly begin again. While on a trip to Lovers’ Lane, 17-year-old Jami watches as her date is brutally slain by a masked serial killer. Barely escaping with her life, Jami becomes obsessed with finding the killer referred to as “The Phantom.” As the body count mounts and the carnage comes closer, Jami delves deeper into the mystery with the help of the town archivist Nick, following clues that point her toward the killer’s true identity.

The original Town That Dreaded Sundown was a tough find back in the day.  In days before the internet it was horror fan hearsay about Jason Voorhees’ mask in Friday part 2 being homage to something else, then you seek out something else.  The original film disturbed me due to its rawness and “real” feeling during its murder scenarios.  Its also a film that I think influenced David Fincher’s Zodiac, yet nobody really talks about it.  It was a film forgotten, remembered by the hardest of the hardcore.  But when you have gone through and remade just about everything, stuff like this resurfaces.  I was honestly open to this new one from the get go, and happy that the original would resurface again.

While the original represents a grim and surreal experience, this sequel to that film feels very Hollywood in comparison.  Its still a very fun film.  The vibe is in more of the Scream vein, minus all the pop culture dialogue.  The film’s creators have found very creative ways at hurting and offing people as well as creatively stages suspense and chase sequences.  This is a slasher film that is truly doing its damndest to be as original as can be and avoid meta bullshit at all costs.  If you’re a true fan of the slasher film, you’re going to appreciate the hell out of this movie while also enjoying the hell out of it.

The “Phantom” as he’s now called, is a really different cat than just the guy who wears a mask and stabs teens with a knife.  This guy has some creative kills, but also isn’t afraid to pull a gun and shoot you either.  He also openly will talk to you, giving you orders or taunting.  After so many quiet, slow stalking killers, this kind of guy ramps up the intensity and makes things far more scary at a different level.  The simplicity and shallowness brought on by his mask tops off his characterization and as a truly top dog psycho killer.

This new film is decently directed and casted.  You get some vets to class up the joint with Gary Cole, Anthony Anderson and Veronica Cartwright.  Speaking of Anderson, this makes for a slasher trifecta with him.  All of them sequels; Urban Legends: Final Cut, Scream 4 and now The Town That Dreaded Sundown.  Two of which he played a cop of some sort.  Our lead is Addison Tilmin.  And I really really like her as a final girl.  She reminds me a lot of another scream queen; Jill Schoelen.  She gives a really good performance and is someone who’s side I can get on and really root for her as she flees the killer.

When I watched this movie for the first time, I liked it well enough.  This second venture I enjoyed it even more to the point where I could find myself eventually loving it like the original but on a different level.  For some, I can understand if this movie may be a bit too polished and slick looking.  But, give it a chance, its a Blumhouse film after all (BTW, who DIDN’T geek out at seeing that Orion logo?).  I think this one could surprise many.  I’m surprised it didn’t get a much bigger theatrical run.  Maybe it wouldn’t have been a massive it, but I think it could have been a nice sleeper that found audiences and maybe would have revitalized the slasher film for a little while.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  Sundown features a nice slick, glossy, fresh new polished image that is the polar opposite of the 70s cult classic film.  Everything here is sharp, clean and heavily detailed.  The killer’s mask and outfit fabric are unmistakenly gruesomely textured.  Hair follicles looks breezy and individualized.  Surfaces show every pebble and crack in the road.  Its a gorgeous looking polished Hollywood looking picture for something really low budget.

Depth:  Depth is very good.  There’s a nice spacing and 3 dimensional feel to everything, especially a corn field chase in the middle of the film.  Movements are smooth and cinematic.  Background images come around as clean and clear as the focus allows.

Black Levels:  Blacks are inky and rich.  While it can be consuming clothing detail and hair does protrude through.  No real crushing was present.

Color Reproduction:  Coloring seems to be a bit warmed up.  Blood sticks out as intended.  Most colors looks natural and a tad sunned over.  Greens pop nicely when in a good area.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are a little warm and consistent.  Detail is high, revealing make-up, stubble, wrinkles, facial cracks and a whole assortment of texturing.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: This one sounds really groovy.  Spooky ambiance aside, there are really loud stabbings and good foot steps/stomps moving abound in this mix.  The sounds are all distinct and of a grand variety.  Scoring amps up nicely where need be.  Its a very new and very free sounding mix.

Low Frequency Extension: Stabbings get enhances, gun blasts, glass shatter and scoring hits all feel the boom of the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: Chasing goes on from one speaker to another.  Corn fields rustle from 5 different channels.  Haunting ambiance is well established.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp, clean and clear.  The killer is appropriately muffled behind the mask.

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Trailer (HD, 2:42)

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It’s a real bummer there are no extras on this “exclusive” edition of the film.  Its a movie I enjoyed even more on my second go around.  Its actually one of my favorite and easily one of the better slasher films this side of the new millennium and no brainer decade-wise.  It looks and sounds beautiful on this new Blu-ray.  I guess I’m just glad its out there on the format and didn’t just hang out in streaming for all of its existence.  Check this one out if you haven’t, its a blast!



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

1 Response to “The Town That Dreaded Sundown – Best Buy Exclusive (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Cash

    This one was begging for some special features, at least a commentary