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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Town That Dreaded Sundown [Blu-ray]


(Charles B. Pierce, 1976)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: American International Pictures (AIP)

Video: Shout! Factory / Eureka Classics



Region: 'A' / Region 'B' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:29:53.930 / 1:30:13.366

Disc Size: 24,642,991,672 bytes / 35,967,906,096 bytes

Feature Size: 18,999,005,184 bytes / 29,873,537,664 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.00 Mbps / 35.73 Mbps

Chapters: 12 / 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: May 21st, 2013 / August 24th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1690 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1690 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1706 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1706 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)


LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit



English (SDH), none


English (SDH), none



• Commentary by Justin Beahm and Jim Presley

Small Town Lawman (9:41)

• Survivor Stories (5:17)

• Eye of the Beholder (12:33)

• Theatrical trailer (2:21)

Poster and Stills Gallery

• The Phantom of Texarcana (8:32)

DVD that includes Charles Pierce's The Evictors!


• Commentary by Justin Beahm and Jim Presley

• Interview with DoP James Roberson (12:33)

• Interview Andrew Prine (9:41)

• Interview with Dawn Wells (5:17)

• Theatrical Trailer (2:21)

2014 Remake Trailer (2:22)

DVD of the Feature



1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Eureka Classics - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM


Description: Louisiana-based filmmaker Charles B. (The Legend of Boggy Creek) Pierce's The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976) is an effective thriller that exceeds the bonds of its budget thanks to brisk pacing and some alarming murder sequences. Based on the real-life "Phantom Killer," a hooded assailant whose five murders in the Texarkana region in 1946 are still unsolved, Pierce's film divides its running time between re-creations of the attacks and their paralyzing effect on the community and an investigation led by Texas Ranger Ben Johnson (playing a fictionalized version of legendary Ranger Captain Manuel "Lone Wolf" Gonzaullas) and deputy Andrew Prine. The five murders unfold in particularly unsettling fashion, especially the assault on housewife Dawn Wells (of Gilligan's Island fame) and her subsequent frenzied flight from the killer, and find a satisfying balance between suspense and bloodshed. These moments, along with the film's Texarkana locations, some solid action set pieces (in particular, the pursuit of the killer that closes the picture), and the presence of Johnson and Prine, do much to smooth over some tonal awkwardness, most notably Pierce's turn as a hapless deputy whose comic interludes stop the picture cold, and the infamous "trombone" murder (perpetrated upon Pierce's then-wife, Cindy Butler), which flirts with the boundaries of bad taste. Though by no means a classic title, The Town That Dreaded Sundown delivers the grisly goods with energy and rough style, which has preserved its appeal among '70s-era horror devotees.



The Film:

This thriller -- based on actual events -- tells in a pseudo-documentary-style of the murders of five people by a man in post-WWII Arkansas. This mystery was still considered unsolved at the time of its release.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

"The Town That Dreaded Sundown" is about a homicidal maniac who terrorized Texarkana, Ark., during the spring and summer of 1946. If, as the off-screen narrator tells us, the facts are true (only the names have been changed), then the phantom killer was actually a pair of unidentified male feet.

Charles B. Pierce, the director and producer, shows us those feet, from the trouser cuffs down, when he isn't showing us a couple of police cars screeching around corners at 25 miles an hour, or an atrocity being committed by the killer, who loved to lurk around lovers' lane.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory has moments where it looks strange, like a warped/skewed ratio (see first and last capture), to me - that I doubt was intentional by the filmmakers. Perhaps I am seeing things. This wasn't a large budget film and there is some light damage and speckles here and there from age and wear. What may be a bigger factor to some is the lack of consistency. Certain sequences can look significantly better than others. The film has plenty of dark scenes - frequently outdoors in the evening.  This is only single-layered with a modest bitrate and contrast is reasonable if not stellar. Daylight scenes are more impressive but nothing is overly dark and there is only a smattering of noise. This Blu-ray doesn't look manipulated and I suspect the 1080P visuals were at the mercy of the source.


Eureka out of the UK take on The Town the Dreaded Sundown in 1080P and support that my warped/skewed ratio comments (above) must be a part of the production (or source that both companies used). It's more robust with a max'ed out bitrate and the visuals are improved - a bit brighter and detail is a smidgeon crisper. It is better but many systems and viewers may not discern the Eureka's visual superiority, but for the record - it is there.




1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Eureka Classics - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Eureka Classics - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Eureka Classics - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Eureka Classics - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



More Blu-ray Captures (Shout! Factory)








1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Eureka Classics - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Audio :

Audio comes in the form of a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel stereo at 1690 kbps. There aren't an excessive amount of robust-ness but certain effects do bring up the bass intensity. Jaime Mendoza-Nava, with many similar genre films to his credit including Grave of the Vampire and Equinox composed the score. It sounds quite good, overall - but not without a few inconsistencies. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Eureka go linear PCM and its a shade more robust. Even toggling between the same two scenes on each individual Blu-ray, didn't reveal any significant differences. The UK disc may have a crisper higher end. It also offers optional English subtitles and the Eureka disc is region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

Firstly we get a commentary by Justin Beahm and Jim Presley and a few video pieces. Small Town Lawman is a 10-minute interview with actor Andrew Prine (Deputy Norman Ramsey in the film). Survivor Stories is a 5-minute interview with actress Dawn Wells (Helen Reed) - memorable as wholesome Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island. Eye of the Beholder spends a dozen minutes with Director of Photography James W. Roberson. The Phantom of Texarcana is 8.5 minutes on the historical events the film is derived from. There is also a Theatrical trailer and a Poster and Stills Gallery. A DVD is in the package that includes Charles Pierce's The Evictors!


Same commentary, trailer and three video interviews. We lose the superfluous Stills Gallery and The Phantom of Texarcana. I don't know at this point whether the included UK DVD will have Charles Pierce's The Evictors. We gain a 2014 remake trailer.


1) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray LEFT

2) Eureka Classics - Region 'B' - Blu-ray RIGHT



Interesting and points for being less-dependant on the exploitation factor. The Town That Dreaded Sundown has some bona-fide positives, plus we get Mary Ann! Unfortunately I am not as keen on the Shout! Factory Blu-ray as I was on the film. I don't doubt this may be the best we ever get. Nice to have the extras too...


Eureka Classics' Blu-ray release is equivalent to their US counterpart and a smidgeon better in the video. Fans will appreciate this creepy 70's horror. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

May 16th, 2013

July 24th, 2015




About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
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Gary W. Tooze






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