Scares: For a drive-in caliber movie there’s actually one or two decent ones. (I’ll never look at a trombone in quite the same way ever again.) Just keep your expectations low. Really low.
Splat factor: From Zero to Dead Alive? Barely noticeable, at best. This looks and feels like a TV movie, complete with low-key FX. Better than I expected overall, but I expected pure crap.
Closing scene “shocker”: Besides the creepy fact that in real life the killer was never found? Nup.
Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul): Based on the real Phantom Killer murder spree in Texarkana in 1946. A reboot was done in 2014 and should be hitting theaters (or On Demand) soon.
Trick or Treat?: I’d heard tons of bad news about this movie. It’s slow, it’s dull, the voice over narration is silly and heavy handed. That’s all true. But I’m a lover of craptastic B-movie drive-in fodder, so while I think Sundown is nobody’s baby, it can be fun if you’re looking for a retro 70s drive-in night. Bonus points if you decide to do your own Mystery Science Theater thing as film plays. Or do a drinking game, perhaps like…
* a couple does something stupid rather than fight back/take off
* someone calls Officer Benson “Spark Plug”
* a cop is in drag
* someone says how a-ma-zing agent “Lone Wolf” is
* the cops deliver lines like they’re about to fall asleep
* “teenagers” act WAAAAY too straight laced, even for the 1940s
* female victims act like idiots rather than intelligent human beings.
That should get you good and hammered.
Why not double-up this movie with the sister from the same mister (that’d be producer Charles B. Pierce) The Legend of Boggy Creek, a film that feels like the crazy-crime prequel to this story. (It’s even got the same narrator.) Oh, and be sure to check out Dawn “Mary Ann” Wells as the final victim here in Sundown. She classes up the joint at the movie’s climax.
3 out of 5 pumpkins, only for its drive-in, MST3K vibe, and the feeling Jason Voorhees used this film as his fashion inspiration.