Cinema Sunday – Special Edition! House on Haunted Hill (1959)

house_on_haunted_hill

Title: House on Haunted Hill

Distributor: Allied Artists

Writer: Robb White

Director: William Castle

Producers: William Castle, Robb White

Starring: Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Richard Long, Elisha Cook Jr., Carolyn Craig

Released: February 1959

MPAA: UR

 

Anyone that knows me (or follows my blog, etc.), will undoubtedly understand why I’m reviewing this film. Vincent Price is one of my film heroes, and that will never change. His voice, the way he commanded a scene, and his overall creepiness, make him a movie icon. It cannot be disputed or denied. This man’s body of work is incredible, and worthy of high praise. When this film debuted in 1959, Price had already established himself as a B-movie stalwart, starring in hits like House of Wax , The Mad Magician, and The Fly. He also worked on a few more films before those, but they weren’t horror or suspense really. No, it was the horror genre that Price would become infamous for, and I don’t believe he wanted it any other way.

A fine actor Price was indeed, but who is the man behind this film? A gentleman named William Castle, that’s who! Let’s just say that this man could churn out a movie on time, within its budget, and oh yeah, it would be great, too! He was the king of gimmicks, but the story was still always there in his movies. OK, now, let us get to the movie!

 

HouseonHauntedHill#1

 

The film opens with a woman’s shriek, followed by ghoulish moans, and more shrieks. Next, we see the floating head of Watson Pritchard (Elisha Cook Jr.), and he explains that the house you are about to see is haunted. He also tells us that he almost died in this house. Another floating head, that of Frederick Loren (Vincent Price), explains that he has rented this haunted house, and is having a party for his fourth wife, Annabelle (Carol Ohmart). He also is going to offer ten thousand dollars to anyone one of the party-goers who can stay the entire night in the house. You definitely get the impression that he doesn’t particularly care for his wife.  As the guests arrive, he introduces them to us, one by one. A test pilot, Lance Schroeder (Richard Long), a newspaper columnist, Ruth Bridges (Julie Mitchum), a psychiatrist, Dr. David Trent (Alan Marshal), Nora Manning (Carolyn Craig), who works for one of Loren’s companies (he’s a multimillionaire), and finally, the home owner, Pritchard, who says he needs the money.

 

houseonhauntedhill#2

As they all make their way inside, introductions are made, but the questions remains. Where is the host of this party? Suddenly, a door slams shut, and the chandelier begins to shake. Loren watches with glee. he makes his way to the bedroom, calling his wife. He announces that the guests are all here, and unfortunately still alive. He asks her if she’s “put her face on” and she emerges from the bathroom, firing right back with insults of her own. The two go back and forth for a few minutes, and then Loren asks his wife if she’ll take a million dollars and just go away. She tells him that she won’t, because she wants all of his money. He then recalls a time when she poisoned him, but she denies it, and tells him that it was something he ate…he replies with “yes, arsenic on the rocks.”

 

HouseonHauntedHill#4

Loren then heads downstairs and makes some drinks for his guests. He then takes them on a tour of the house, and Pritchard tells them about some of the murders that took place in th house at one time or another. Some blood drips on Ruth, and Pritchard tells her that she’s been “marked” but they laugh it off. In the basement, they see the pit of acid that one man supposedly used to kill off his wife. Nora almost falls in, and everyone gasps. Lance then gets Nora alone, and begins to hit on her. Nora explains that she needs the money because she’s the only one in her family that’s working. Lance opens a door, and walks in, and the door immediately shuts behind him. Nora tries to open it, but can’t even budge it. The lights go out, and a weird noise starts up, and scares Nora. She looks across the room, and a ghastly figure appears. She nearly dies of fright, and after the apparition disappears, she runs into the other room where everyone else is congregating. They all rush to find Lance, and he’s lying in the room, with a huge gash on his head, bleeding.

 

houseonhauntedhill#3

Lance then has Nora help him try to figure out what happened when he was hit on the head. He and Nora split up just for a moment, and once again, Nora sees the horrible woman/ghost, as it menacingly leans over her, she huddles down near the floor. It floats away, and Lance hurries in. She tells him what happened, but he doesn’t believe her because he didn’t see anything. She leaves in a huff, and goes upstairs. She runs into Annabelle, and the two have a talk. You get the feeling that Annabelle thinks that her husband is fooling around with Nora, but she denies it vehemently. After that, Annabelle runs into Lance, and they have a talk about the house, and about Loren. Annabelle seems to be scared that Loren is going to try to kill her, and Lance seems puzzled. Annabelle rushes back to her bedroom, and Loren comes in and threatens her, that she’d better come downstairs, or else!

 

houseonhauntedhill#5

As the night grows older, more and more hi-jinx ensue, with some of the shenanigans getting even more deadly by the minute! Is ten thousand dollars worth being scared to death or worse? Watch and find out!

OK, here are my thoughts:

When you look at this film’s budget, and the fact that it made a ton of money (for its time), this film is a gem that cannot be undervalued. Price is his usual brilliant self, but the rest of the cast also gives quite a good performance. Some of the scenes are hilarious, and really add to a movie that already is gold. At one point, Price and Ohmart are jabbing back and forth at each other, and Price tells her not to “stay up all night thinking of ways to kill him, because it will give her wrinkles.” Another great touch is when Price is attempting to assuage the fears of the guests, so he hands out pistols to each of them. The guns are being kept in little miniaturized coffins! Carolyn Craig (Nora) gives a good performance as well, and should be applauded for it.

The cinematographer (Carl E. Guthrie) must be mentioned, as his efforts were monumental considering what he had to work with budget-wise. William Castle was the ultimate showman, and he was the king of gimmicks. He had most of the theaters rigged with flying skeletons, to try to scare the audience. This was something he used many times, but most notably in this film, The Tingler (1959), and 13 Ghosts (1960). His biggest commercial credit is being the producer of Rosemary’s Baby (1968). This film lapsed into public domain, so give it a shot, you have nothing to lose!

 

Click here for the full movie!

 

Werewolf by Night #36, 1975 “Images of Death”

It’s time once again, to bark at the moon! Another tale in the twisted life of Jack Russell is upon us, and this time, we’ll see a beheading, a hanging, skeletons, rats, and a squad of ghost cops! Well, and just to be clear, we’ll see a werewolf as well! I love necromancer type characters, and virtually all magic practitioners in comic books. Why this is, I have no idea, but the sorcerer supreme, Doctor Strange is my all-time favorite. The villain in this story, is a man named Belaric Marcosa. The dude wasn’t around very long, but he was a great villain for Werewolf by Night. And besides, the dude was so cool, he had two rubies imbedded in his two front teeth!

The awesome villain was created by Doug Moench, and Don Perlin. These two guys (especially Perlin) get very little credit for their work on this title, but if you really take a long look at their run, it’s chocked full of weirdo characters that made this book so good. Don’t just forsake everything past the early issues, because if you do, you will be doing a disservice to yourself! Written by Doug Moench, art by Don Perlin, colors by George Roussos, letters by Debra James, and edited by Marv Wolfman! Enjoy!

 

Image (18)

Image (19)

Image (20)

Image (21)

Image (22)

Image (23)

Image (24)

Image (91)

Image (92)

 

 

The Monster of Frankenstein #5, 1973 “The Monster Walks Among Us”

When I hear the name Mike Ploog, I immediately gravitate to Marvel horror from the 1970’s, as most probably do, but that is to be expected. His work in that genre is unparalleled, and most lovers of that genre might curse me for saying this, but I think he ranks right up there with the all-time greats (Wrightson, Frazetta, etc.). His run on these titles wasn’t incredibly extensive, but the impact certainly cannot be denied.

Let us take a look at the fifth issue of The Monster of Frankenstein, shall we? Just look at that cover! The Monster, a beautiful woman, the fire, boat, and roaring sea. Just an incredible piece of artwork. The splash page is almost as cool, and really shows great perspective by Ploog. His rendition of the Monster can look menacing or sorrowful, and even both at the same time. So, enjoy this peek at one of Ploog’s best issues! Written by Mike Friedrich, pencils by Mike Ploog, inks by ‘Jumbo’ John Verpoorten, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Artie Simek, and edited by Roy Thomas!

 

Image (10)

Image (11)

Image (12)

Image (13)

Image (14)

Image (15)

Image (16)

Image (17)

 

Cinema Sunday: The Mummy (1959)

Mummy1959

Title: The Mummy

Distributor: Hammer Studios/Universal

Writer:  Jimmy Sangster

Director: Terence Fisher

Producer: Anthony Nelson Keys, Michael Carreras

Starring:  Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Furneaux, Eddie Byrne, George Pastell, Michael Ripper

Released:  September 25, 1959

MPAA: UR

 

It recently occurred to me. that I’ve never reviewed a “mummy” movie! This must be rectified immediately, and it’ll be in grande fashion in the Hammer Studios style! The acting credits include two giants, Cushing & Lee, the people behind the scenes are no slouches either (Sangster, Fisher, Keys, Carreras), so for those that haven’t seen this flick yet, what are you waiting for exactly? I’ll keep the intro short because I’m on a deadline for a few surprises for this spooky week! Get ready, because we need to set the WABAC Machine a long time for this one!

 

Mummy#1

The year is 1895, and we zoom in on an archaeological dig in the deserts of Egypt. Three men, Stephen Banning (Felix Aylmer), his son, John Banning (Peter Cushing), and Joseph Whemple (Raymond Huntley), have just discovered the tomb of Ananka (the high priestess of the god, Karnak). As they’re just about to enter the tomb, a man (George Pastell) approaches, and begs them not to enter. He tells them that they will be cursed for doing this, but they dismiss him quickly. John has a broken leg, so he cannot go in, but his father, and uncle both enter. Once they see the remains of Ananka, Joseph runs out to tell John that they’ve found what they’ve been looking for after twenty years of research. Back inside the tomb, we see Stephen, as he’s searching for more relics. He removes the “scroll of life” from a cubbyhole, and it activates a nearby doorway. It opens, but before we see anything, the scene switches back to the tent, and the conversation between John and Joseph. Suddenly, they hear a blood-curling scream from the tomb. Joseph rushes in, and finds John, acting like he’s had a mental breakdown.

 

Mummy#2

A couple of years later, we see John and Joseph, as they’re wrapping up crating all the relics from the tomb. One of the servants then lights a fuse, and they seal the tomb, forever. They return to England, and John visits his father in the mental ward. Back in Egypt, the local man who warned them against this act, prays to his gods, to take revenge against these infidels. Back at the asylum, John’s father begins raving about a mummy that attacked him while he was inside the tomb, but John doesn’t believe him. His father again warns him about the scroll, and the mummy, but John just thinks he’s gone insane. We next see two men in a pub, discussing how they were contracted to transport some goods to a local home. The cargo is ancient Egyptian relics, and we get a feeling things aren’t quite right. Back at the asylum, John’s father goes completely off his rocker, and smashes the windows in his room. The delivery guys hear the racket, and drive the cart faster, it then is almost upset, and a large crate falls off.

 

Mummy#3

Later that night, the creepy Egyptian dude uses the writings on the scroll to call forth the mummy from the swamp where the crate fell into earlier. The mummy (Christopher Lee), emerges from the swamp, looking like he’s going to open up a can on somebody. The Egyptian dude then commands him to go and kill those who desecrated the tomb. The first victim is John’s father, over at the asylum. He’s now in a  padded cell after his outburst. He looks over at the window, and sees an enormous shadow approaching. He begins to shout and pound on the door, but they can’t hear him. The mummy rips the steel bars off of the window, smashes the glass, and kicks the fence in. He then descends on the old man, and throttles him to death. The police say it was a “lunatic,” and move on.

 

Mummy#4

John and his uncle Joseph talk about who could have done this heinous act. Joseph tells John about the Egyptian guy that warned him back during the dig, but he doesn’t seem to be worried. The two discuss the dig, and the origin of Ananka. We see a priest (Christopher Lee), as he performs a funeral for Ananka, and things end up going terribly wrong. As they attempted to bury Ananka, the priest violates the sacred tomb (he attempted to resurrect her from the dead) , and then must pay the price. The Egyptians cut out his tongue, and mummify him. They place a curse on him, and put him in the tomb, so that he may guard her for eternity.

 

Mummy#5

One by one, those who dared to desecrate the tomb are getting killed off. Will John be able to figure out the key to stopping this undead fiend or will the Mummy have his revenge!?!

 

Mummy#6

OK, here are my thoughts:

I know most are high on the Universal Studios version of “The Mummy” and rightly so, but honestly, if you watch this one, you’ll have to admit that its right up there too. Cushing delivers a grande performance, as is his calling card. He really sunk his teeth into this one, and you get a bit of his “Dr. Frankenstein” vibe to spice things up. The rest of the cast is solid, but nothing crazy awesome. Lee does his thing as the monster, but let’s be honest, you can’t even tell it’s him. Now, when he was in the flashback scenes as the priest, that was pretty cool.

The music score for this one is top-notch (Franz Reizenstein), and really has some fantastic spots where it lends so much atmosphere to the movie. The direction is also great, and when you have someone like Terence Fisher calling the shots, you know you’re in good hands. A few quick scenes with Hammer stalwarts Michael Ripper, and George Woodbridge, are the icing on the cake. Listen, you need to see this film, it’s definitely a must see for any old school horror fan!

 

Click here for the trailer!

 

 

War is Hell #12, 1975 “My Love Must Die”

Truthfully, I’ve only read two issues of this series (War is Hell), but both were excellent. I don’t fully understand what the book and character are all about, but I do know that John Kowalski was a member of the U.S. Army, and was killed in action. He then becomes sort of a ghost that can possess people, and cause all sorts of havoc. I also read an issue of Man-Thing #10 (vol. 2), where he seemed to be alive again, but have other mysterious powers. I need to investigate this book/character more, so I guess it’s to the back issue bins for me!

Honestly, when you see the credits for this book, it’s not difficult to just grab it, knowing it will be at least OK, if not good. The story is by Chris Claremont, and he can write just about any kind of genre. The pencils are by Don Perlin, the inks by Dave Hunt (both are criminally underrated), with colors by Janice Cohen, and letters by Joe Rosen (edited by Len Wein). With a team like that, you know the work will be solid, and this issue certainly is a good one! Enjoy!

 

Image (85)

Image (84)

Image (86)

Image (87)

Image (88)

Image (89)

Image (90)

Werewolf by Night #12, 1973 “Cry Monster”

It’s time for some werewolf action! There are very few books that can hang with Werewolf by Night (vol. 1) in the all-time greats of horror comics from the 1970’s (The Tomb of Dracula being the best). This title started out with some fantastic creators on it. The names Ploog, Conway, Wolfman, Kane, and others, brought this character to life and gave him a world to play in, and share with other great characters from the Marvel Universe, as well.  Later (issue #20 or so), you had a different creative team take the reins, and put a spin on the book that was unexpected, but was a ton of fun! That team was Doug Moench and Don Perlin! This issue was a battle between the Werewolf by Night, Jack Russell, and a strange nemesis called “The Hangman.” This kooky guy is all sorts of crazy, and believe it or not, he’s crazy enough to keep the werewolf at bay for a while!

The creative team on this one was nothing short of spectacular. You get ‘Marvelous’ Marv Wolfman writing, Pencils by the great Gil Kane (RIP), inks by the underrated Don Perlin, Mr. Tom Orzechowski lettering, and Linda Lessmann on colors! Of course, we have Roy ‘The Boy’ Thomas editing, as was the norm in the early 1970’s. Sometimes I wonder how some of these creators from that era had time to sleep! Check out this incredible cover by John Romita! Well, without further interruption, let’s take a look at some Werewolf by Night! (Insert crazy howl here)! Enjoy!

 

Image (78)

Image (79)

Image (80)

Image (81)

Image (82)

 

Doctor Strange #41, 1980 “Maelstrom at the Center of Time”

I definitely wanted to sneak in some Doc Strange for Halloween, and what better way, than with a Man-Thing story! In this issue, we see the Doc in an adventure with not only Man-Thing, but also Jenifer Kale, Baron Mordo, a cult, and even Death itself! From cover to cover, you’ll get everything you’ve ever wanted – the Nexus of All Realities, magic, monsters, skeletons, you name it!

The story is brought to us by Chris Claremont, pencils by Gene ‘The Dean’ Colan, inks by Dan Green, letters by Diana Albers, colors by Ed Hannigan, and edited by Jo Duffy! You also get a spectacular cover by Bob Layton and Klaus Janson, as well! Definitely check out this issue, as it can found for a decent price in most back issue bins.

 

Image (69)

Image (70)

Image (71)

Image (72)

Image (73)

Image (74)

Cinema Sunday: Invisible Invaders (1959)

invisible_invaders_poster_01

Title: Invisible Invaders

Distributor: United Artists

Writer: Samuel Newman

Director: Edward L. Cahn

Producer: Robert E. Kent

Starring: John Agar, John Carradine, Jean Byron

Released: May 15th, 1959

MPAA: PG

 

Another Sunday, and another sci-fi flick! This classic from 1959, stars the awesome John Agar, and if that wasn’t enough, we get another titan from the sci-fi/horror industry in John Carradine, as well! Both of these men had extensive careers in the film industry (especially Carradine), and have some fantastic credits on their filmography lists. During this decade, the explosion of “alien” films was crazy, and some are just terrible. Most didn’t have the luxury of having big names like these two, so it made the films seem bad because we know the budget for special effects wasn’t going to wow anybody. Alright, enough about that already, let’s get down to the movie!

 

invisibleinvaders1

The film begins with an experiment gone wrong, and the person that loses his life, is Dr. Karol Noyman (John Carradine – image above). The scene turns to Dr. Penner (Philip Tonge) discusses the accident with officials at the Pentagon. He wants to stop using nuclear tests for science. The Pentagon scoffs at him, and tells him it will continue. Penner leaves, and then gets a visit later that night at home. The dead Dr. Noyman comes for a visit, and tells him that he’s actually an alien invader that has reanimated the corpse of Dr. Noyman, and that the Earth must submit, or there will be a war. He also informs the good doctor that their ships are invisible, so the military will have no chance of stopping them. He even gives him a demonstration of the material that they use for the ships, and it is indeed invisible. Penner tells him that they won’t listen to him, but the alien tells him he’d better find a way or else! Then he exits the house.

 

invisibleinvaders2

Even later that evening, Penner’s daughter, Phyllis (Jean Byron) and her date, Dr. John Lamont (Robert Hutton) return home. Her father explains what has happened, but they think he’s had a nervous breakdown. He insists it happened, and begs Dr. Lamont to go to Washington D.C. and tell them of the impending doom. Dr. Lamont begrudgingly agrees to tell them, but we soon see newspaper headlines that make him out to be a kook. Dr. Penner is watching the clock, and wondering when the aliens will attack. He then prays to God, begging that this experience was all a dream. Dr. Lamont and Phyllis return, and give him the bad news. Dr. Lamont is kind of wiener about the situation, but soon, he’ll be a believer.

Dr. Lamont suggests that they try to contact the aliens and ask for more time. The all agree to head over to the cemetery and seek out the aliens inhabiting the corpses. Dr. Penner calls out to the aliens, and suddenly, they hear a growling noise. Something pushes its way through the brush, and then makes tracks in the soil. It’s at this time, that Phyllis and Dr. Lamont become believers. The alien then speaks to him, and he tells the alien that he failed and that no one will listen. He begs to get more time to try again, but the aliens refuse, and tell him that they will give one more warning to the people of Earth. The three of them realize they can do nothing to stop this, so they head for home.

 

InvisibleInvaders3

The aliens then inhabit the body of a pilot who crashed his plane. He heads to a hockey game (don’t ask), and knocks out the announcers, and gets on the mic, and warns them of their impending doom. The people scatter like a bunch of ants. The alien then leaves the body of the corpse, and opens the door, leaving the room. The announcers wake up and are stunned to see this going on. Over in California, a car accident victim is possessed, and heads over to a large stadium and makes the same ominous warning. Again, people run away, and head for the hills!

 

invisibleinvaders4

Shortly thereafter, the aliens begin their invasion. They destroy bridges and roads, buildings and everything else in their path. They also start to possess every dead person on Earth. More people are killed in the chaos, and police cannot control the mobs that are going berserk. Washington D.C. then breaks into the news coverage, and tells everyone that Dr. Penner has agreed to rejoin the nuke project, and Major Bruce Jay (John Agar), is assigned to bring him in to the underground bunker. While on their way, a man with a shotgun holds them up, and attempts to steal their jeep. There are aliens (zombies) everywhere, and the man wants out. The next thing you know, something is stirring in the bushes nearby, and the man is distracted. Major Jay uses this opportunity to shoot the man in the head, killing him instantly. An alien then sneaks over and possesses the man.

 

invisibleinvaders027

Once they get to the bunker, Dr. Penner, Major Jay, and Dr. Lamont, head over to the lab, and begin to try to formulate a plan. The outside world is being decimated, corpse after corpse is being inhabited, and it looks as if there is no hope for humanity. Can this small group somehow find a way to stop the alien invasion? Watch it and find out!

 

Invisible_Invaders1

 

OK, here are my thoughts:

This is one of those movies that any fan of the genre must see. No excuses, get out and grab or stream it on Netflix. Carradine is creepy as a zombie, and Tonge is quite good as well. Of course, you get an awesome “tough guy” from John Agar, and you can really see why he fits this mold very well. He’s a great action hero for this time period, and really commands the scenes that he appears in during the film. Of course the nuclear angle is something used HEAVILY in this time period, but it doesn’t detract from the cool factor of this flick.

The shots of the destruction are pretty cool, but the ones of the people running around are quite cheesy, and are most likely stock footage of something completely unrelated. Other than that, the film is pretty solid, and is a good representation of the time/genre. The revelation of what the invisible aliens actually look like is pretty cool too, and as I said before, the special effects obviously didn’t consume a good chunk of the budget, but they were good nonetheless. I try to imagine some of these older films in color, but honestly, this one is perfect in black and white. This is a must watch for movie fans of the genre, plain and simple.

 

Click here for the trailer!

 

A Chamber of Chills Ensemble!

After being thoroughly exhausted from a weekend trip and now work, I’m playing catch-up now! Instead of posting about a single issue, I thought I’d just post a good-sized helping of a horror title to whet your appetites, and get you in the Halloween mood! The title “Chamber of Chills,” has always been one that I thought had good content, with either new stories or reprinted material from the Atlas Era. The first few issues featured new material from names like Thomas, Brunner, Russell, and so forth, but eventually the book went with just all reprint stories. Not that it was a bad thing mind you, because then you got to see work by greats like Heck, Ayers, Ditko, and early Perlin, as well!

These men were masters, one and all, and the legacy they’ve left for toady’s creators to follow is nothing short of extraordinary. Some are still with us, sadly others are not,  but their incredible contributions live on in the pages of comic books just like the issues I’m about to showcase! Sit back, and relax, because you’re about to go on a journey into a very scary and chilling place!

 

Image (19)

Image (20)

Image (21)

Image (40)

Image (41)

Image (42)

Image (43)

Image (44)

Image (45)

Image (46)

Image (47)

Image (48)

Image (49)

Image (50)

Image (58)

Image (59)

Image (60)

 

Cinema Sunday: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)

sundown

 

Title: The Town That Dreaded Sundown

Distributor: AIP

Writer: Earl E. Smith

Director: Charles B. Pierce

Producers: Charles B. Pierce and Samuel Z. Arkoff

Starring: Ben Johnson, Andrew Prine, Dawn Wells, Bud Davis

Released: December 24th, 1976

MPAA: R

 

By the time everyone reads this review, I’ll have been out in Pittsburgh, at my first ever Monsterbash! The Bash is a horror/sci-fi convention for nuts like me that grew up on old-school horror and sci-fi movies. You know, those flicks shown either late at night or on a Saturday after noon by some “horror host” such as Uncle Ted, the one I watched host a show called “Monstermania,” that showed everything from Godzilla movies to the classic Universal films from the 1930’s and 1940’s. I remember staying up late (past the time I was allowed – sorry, Mom!), on Friday night, or on Saturday afternoon, and watching these scary flicks.

OK, now let me just say that I’ve wanted to check out this movie for quite sometime, and thanks to Netflix, I can now say that I have. I won’t get into the specifics until after the review, but I will say that any film with Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island, is OK by me. Alright, on to the movie…

 

Town That Dreaded Sundown

 

The film begins with some narrative by a voice (Vern Stierman), that informs us that the town of Texarkana is a quiet little town that has many men returning from WWII, and trying to live a normal life. We watch across town, as people live their lives, and in one case, we see a wedding ceremony ending. In this year, 1946, there is also something sinister walking the streets. We then see only the legs and feet of someone (presumably the killer), as he makes his way to a scene downtown, where some young people are congregating. As two of the young people (Linda Mae Jenkins, Sammy Fuller)  leave, they head to a remote area to go “parking.” As they arrive, the young lady is less than cooperative, but we soon see that someone is creeping around the car. Suddenly, a hooded figure appears, and pops the hood of the car, then rips out the distributor. The young man tries to start the car, but no go. The woman shrieks in fear, and the hooded man pulls the young man out of the car through the window (after smashing it with a crowbar). He beats the young man savagely, and then pulls the woman out of the car.

 

sundown1

The next morning, we see the young woman, bloody and beaten to a pulp, trying to get to the freeway. A car drives by and sees her, then the police arrive, along with te ambulance. We see Deputy Ramsey (Andrew Prine – image above), as he radios back to the station to give them some info about the incident. We then see the sheriff and Deputy Ramsey at the hospital, attempting to get some answers from the victims. The doctor tells them that it’s too early for that, because of sedation and trauma. The doctor does tell them that the victims were beaten badly, and that the woman was even bitten several times!

Later, the Captain asks the Deputy and the sheriff what they have, and they tell him they’ve got nothing. Another night falls, and our narrator explains the lives of two more young people. The two have an argument, but settle their differences quickly. The two then head to a spot to “get it on” and we see  Deputy Ramsey patrolling some of the local haunts. As he leaves the vehicle for a moment, he hears two gunshots nearby, and heads in that direction. He calls for backup, and parks near a car stopped on a gravel road. He approaches it with caution, but finds no one inside. Two more shots ring out close by, and he runs towards them (after calling for backup again). As he checks out the nearby brush, he finds the young man from the car, with a gunshot wound to the head. Close by, the young woman is tied to a tree, also shot dead. As Deputy Ramsey looks on in horror, he hears footsteps, and pursues the person. He only sees a dark figure, as it jumps into a car, and flees the scene.

 

sundown2

Within a few days, gun stores are sold out of weapons, and hardware stores cannot keep up with the sales of locks. Deputy Ramsey and the Sheriff call the capital for help, and they’re told that they’ll send the best investigator in the country. Captain J. D. Morales (Ben Johnson – image above), of the Texas rangers is on his way, and they head out to meet him. They meet him at the train station, and then head over to the station to discuss the operation. Ramsey teams up with Morales, and the two begin a whole new investigation into the murders.  Speaking of the murders, they seem to have taken place exactly 21 days apart, and Morales thinks this might be something the killer is doing intentionally. They head out to the crime scenes to check for anything they might have missed. They also set up curfews, warn citizens of the trouble. Of course, they get a bunch of nuts that confess to the killings, but Morales knows they’re full of it.

The cops get an idea to set up some decoys to try to catch the killer. They have male officers dress in drag (yes, really – image below), and sit in parked cars with other officers, trying to tempt the killer. Morales tells them to stay alert, and be ready for anything. Meanwhile, in town, the local students are having a dance, but the police don’t seem to be worried about them for some reason. The dance will go on until two or so, and they figure they can wait until then to make sure they get home OK. A couple leaves a bit later than the others, and this will of course be their undoing. They pack up the car, as the girl is in the band (a trombone player), and then head for a “make out” session before curfew. The two are interrupted by the “Phantom” as he brutally attacks them both. He beats the young man to a pulp, then chases the girl into the woods. He drags her back to the car (and her boyfriend), and ties her to a tree. He then fastens a knife to the end of her trombone, and belts out a “tune,” stabbing her countless times.

 

sundown5

 

The next day, Morales, Ramsey, and a few other policemen, along with some local government officials, are having dinner, and discussing the case. A psychiatrist tells them that they don’t have much of a chance to catch him, but Morales isn’t having any of that nonsense. As the men continue to discuss things, someone gets up from the table, and leaves. The others don’t even give the person a look, but we see the boots of the person, and they look like those of the killer. The following day, a man tells the police that a man jumped in his car, and threatened to kill him, just as he had the others in the area, if he didn’t give him a ride. The police then get a call from a store owner that it was robbed, and the perpetrator matches the description that the man gave earlier during his talk with the police. The police speed to the scene, and see the man leaving. A chase scene follows, and then they eventually catch him. The guy claims to be the “Phantom” but he’s obviously not (he seems like an imbecile).

 

sundown3

A few weeks later, and a woman, Helen Reed (Dawn Wells), is leaving the grocery store, and a man pulls up next to her car, and stares at her. She nods at the man, looking at him quizzically, then leaves. Later that day, she’s brushing her hair, while her husband is reading the paper by the window. In an instant, we see the hooded man by the window, aiming a pistol at his head. He pulls the trigger twice, shooting the man in the head. Helen screams, and then sees the hooded man by the back door of the house. He bursts through the screen door, and shoots her twice as well. She manages to survive though, and she crawls to the neighbor’s house for help. The hooded man follows, but by then, the neighbor has a shotgun, and tells his wife to call the police. The hooded man pursues, grabbing a pick axe on his way through the house. He gives up the chase as the dog, plus the neighbor with the shotgun are enough to deter him this night.

 

sundown4

The police then ramp up their patrols, but the next scheduled attack comes and goes without any disturbance. One day, Morales and Ramsey are driving around and get a call that a stolen car was found nearby, so they check it out. It’s the car that Deputy Ramsey saw the night of the second murders, and the two men grab shotguns and head out into the wooded area nearby. A nearby sandpit shows some tracks made from boots, and they get the feeling that they’re on to something. As they move around the pits, they see the hooded man atop a hill. Morales shoots at him, but misses. Ramsey and he then take off after the man, but he dives across some railroad tracks just as a train comes by. They shoot between and under the cars and manage to hit him in the leg, but by the time the train passes, he’s gone.

 

sundown6

There’s no need to go any further, because essentially, that’s the end of the movie.

 

OK, here are my thoughts:

Alright, this movie has its good points and bad points. First things first, is that they had some foolish comedic scenes in this movie that were just awful. This is part because it’s fact, and partly because I can’t personally stand when horror/suspense films attempt to shoe-horn in comedy. Secondly, the film basically has no ending, and it’s kind of understandable, because this film is loosely based on a true story, where the killer was never caught. Also, the director/producer, Pierce, was in the film as the “keystone cop” Sparkplug. This was a terrible idea, for more than one reason, and his acting was the biggest reason.

The good points were good enough to make the film enjoyable though, and those mostly revolved around the scenes with the killer doing his thing. The scenes were pretty creepy, and when you realize that these murders really happened, and the guy was never caught, it’s even more terrifying. I love when films don’t overdo costumes, like in this one. A simple shirt, pants, and hood, make this guy really menacing, and you won’t even want to imagine coming face to face with this guy. Think about it; most of the really scary horror villains don’t have an overload of make-up in these types of films, they just keep it simple and let the situations creep out the viewers. Speaking of types of films, I think this might be one of the first films you could classify as a “slasher” film. It has all the elements of the more modern films of that genre, for sure. Ben Johnson did a fine job and should be lauded for bringing this film to a higher place than it would have without him. Andrew Prine turned in a pretty good performance as well, so kudos to him.

 

Click here for the trailer!