1976’s The Town That Dreaded Sundown is an overlooked gem in the annals of low-budget horror, its reputation inhibited by its brutally realistic documentary style and blowback from residents of Texarkana, Arkansas, who were displeased with the way the movie depicted their town. (Exhibit A: the film’s tagline, “In 1946 this man killed five people…today he still lurks the streets of Texarkana, Ark.”) Sundown is based on the true story of the “Phantom Killer,” who attacked eight people in the rural areas outside Texarkana between February and May 1946. The Phantom Killer was never caught, leading to the urban legends that inspired the film and a bunch of crazy speculation on serial killer forums.
The original Sundown is an atmospheric chiller often compared to serial-killer flicks like Zodiac—a tone that also seems to be present in MGM’s upcoming remake. (The infamous trombone scene also makes a brief appearance.) The 2014 update stars Californication’s Addison Timlin as Jami, a sweet young thing who serves as the unwilling messenger of bagheaded doom when Texarkana’s resident mass murderer—who’s probably immortal or something, because 1946 was over 60 years ago and he’s still stabbing teens like a 30-year-old—re-emerges.
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who was nominated for an Emmy this year for directing American Horror Story, makes his feature directing debut with the backing of AHS co-creator Ryan Murphy. The Town That Dreaded Sundown premieres at Fantastic Fest in Austin later this month, before hitting theaters nationwide in October.