It’s 1946 and a young couple is assaulted while they were parked out in lover’s lane. The couple are beaten up but they’re not killed. Their attacker is a man and he wears a white bag over his head with eye holes cut out.
A few weeks later a police deputy is patrolling a lover’s lane when he discovers another young couple have been shot and killed. While the cops investigate, the growing panic in the town of Texarkana prompts record gun sales. The Texas Rangers send in Ben Johnson to investigate. A few weeks later another attack occurs and another young couple is found dead. The Phantom is eluding the police.
Loosely based on a real event that happened in Texas in 1946, this low budget 1976 horror from director Charles B. Pierce helped create the slasher film. It was released two years after Black Christmas but two years before Halloween. Even Jason in Friday the 13th Part 2 looks a lot like the Phantom before he got his hockey mask.
The film caused some controversy when it was released because the poster made it sound like a killer might be still roaming Texarkana in the present. Charles B. Pierce had previously directed The Legend of Boggy Creek which also claimed it was based on a true story. Pierce used the documentary style from The Legend of Boggy Creek for The Town That Dreaded Sundown which sets it apart from later slasher films. Pierce also co-starred as a bungling cop in the film, trying to add comic relief from all the tension.