The Town That Dreaded Sundown
is a 1976 docudrama based on the Moonlight Murders
Post-WWII, the town of Texarkana is plagued by assaults and slayings committed by "the Phantom Killer". Investigating deputy Norman Ramsey is baffled by the first attack on a couple, and when the assailant kills his next two victims, Texas Ranger J.D. Morales is brought in to investigate the crimes. Unfortunately, finding the killer proves difficult...
This film provides examples of the following tropes:
- Disguised in Drag: The cops, in order to facilitate a sting operation.
- Fearsome Foot: Halfway through the film, we are introduced to the killer this way, as he makes his way through town, supposedly running random errands, but in reality, earmarking potential victims.
- Instrument of Murder: The Phantom stabs a woman to death by using a bayonet attached to a trombone. He plays it to make the blade go in and out of her.
- Man Bites Man: The Phantom Killer, seemingly for no reason other than being batshit insane.
- Mood Whiplash: Largely courtesy of comic relief Sparkplug. And then there's the trombone murder...
- Too Dumb to Live: The two kids who go out driving through the woods, despite knowing full well that there's a killer out there (by this point in the film, several murders have taken place), then falling asleep. Sure enough, the killer sets upon them.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story:
- White Mask of Doom: The Phantom's sack-mask.