Charles B. Pierce was an independent filmmaker who tried to inject a sense of realism into his films, be they horror, western or what have you. In today’s Journal, we continue our “31 Days of Spooky Stuff” series by looking at two of Pierce’s horror flicks, both of which are available on a Blu-ray from Scream Factory.
This is also the Journal that puts us at movie number 300! In truth, I’ve seen more than this, I just have a backlog of stuff to cover here. But hey, that’s something, right?
The Best – Reserved for the absolute cream of the crop.
Highly Recommended – Very good. Far better than your typical film and one that I will remember for some time.
Recommended – Just what it says. This is a good film and earns a recommendation. Don’t think that because it’s not one of the top two categories that these films aren’t worth your time. The “recommended” tag is a winner and nothing to sneer at.
Barely Recommended – The middle of the road. Those films where I didn’t feel it was a complete waste of time, but it didn’t set my world on fire either. Not bad, but leaves me feeling bored and/or apathetic.
Disappointing – Close but no cigar. Does a few things right but is ultimately a whole lot of wasted potential. Not recommended.
Awful – A bad movie. Pure and simple. Not worth your time.
The Worst – The Britta Perry of ratings, though not as entertaining. The bottom of the barrel.
What was the film trying to accomplish and how well did it meet those goals?
In addition to (or sometimes despite) that, how does the film hold up on sheer entertainment value?
FILM GEEK CENTRAL – ENTRY 70
(31 DAYS OF SPOOKY STUFF – DAY 6 – OCT. 6, 2013)
THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (1976) – Using a documentary-like approach which makes it sound like a rural version of THE NAKED CITY, THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN tells the tale of the Texarkana Killer. In 1946, on the border of Texas and Arkansas, the sense of small town community was shattered by a series of random, brutal killings. The police do their best to hunt down the killer, but as its been documented, the Texarkana Killer was never identified or brought to justice.
Right away, Pierce excels at creating a snapshot of postwar small town Americana. There are fleets of vintage cars and authentic set decoration. The film’s greatest success may be in giving a real sense of the people who lived in this town, what they had gone through during the war and what they were looking for in this new time of peace. And then, all of that gets shattered as a faceless murderer starts killing the young people in town.
Pierce’s film is interesting throughout. He’s done his research in presenting information related to the Texarkana Killer. And of course, being a director of exploitation pictures, he has also fabricated and juiced up the right parts to keep it entertaining. He assembled a fine cast for the film, including Ben Johnson, Andrew Prine and Pierce himself. Dawn Wells, formerly Mary Ann on GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, also turns up as one of the killer’s potential victims. Recommended.
THE EVICTORS (1979) – After tackling a Native American story with GREYEAGLE and a Lee Majors Viking epic (!) with THE NORSEMAN, Pierce returned to horror for THE EVICTORS. Much like TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN, the film starts out by giving us a glimpse of the dark side of postwar America. A family is being evicted from their home, forced out by the banks and police. A bloodbath ensues and it seems like everyone is killed.
Years later, a newlywed couple moves into the house, without being told about the house’s bloody history. The neighbors do know the history and they are quite frosty to the couple, as if they know something it bound to happen. Sure enough, the wife begins to sense someone is watching her. Someone or something is lurking around, harassing her and murdering anyone who gets too close to the house.
Pierce’s film is a slow boil but effective horror film, a film that recalls STRAW DOGS as much as it does THE HAUNTING. There are quite a few unexpected plot twists contained here. And wow, did he ever assemble an amazing cast. Jessica Harper (PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, SUSPIRIA) stars as the tormented housewife while her husband is played by the great Michael Parks. Vic Morrow and Sue Ann Langdon help round out the cast. THE EVICTORS is the type of film that could easily slip under your radar, but it shouldn’t. Recommended.
Number of films covered in the Journal so far: 300!!!
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