Southern Fried Slasher: THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (AIP 1976)

cracked rear viewer

In 1946, the town of Texarkana, on the Texas-Arkansas border, was rocked by a series of brutal attacks on its citizens from February to May that left five people dead and three seriously wounded. The psycho, who wore what seemed to be a white pillowcase with eyeholes cut in it, caused quite a panic among the townsfolk, and the local and national press had a field day sensationalizing the gruesome events. The case was dubbed “The Texas Moonlight Murders”, and the mysterious maniac “The Phantom Killer”. Famed Texas Ranger M.T. “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullus was brought in to lead the investigation and rounded up a few suspects, but no one was ever formally charged with the grisly crimes. To this day, the case has never officially been solved.

Forty years later, Texarkana native Charles B. Pierce produced, directed, and costarred in THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN, a film based on those…

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Cleaning Out The DVR: Seduced By My Neighbor (dir by Sam Irvin)

(I recorded Seduced By Neighbor off of Lifetime on November 11th, 2018.)

Awwww, what a happy couple!

That picture above is of Mike (Trevor St. John) and Sarah (Andrea Bogart) relaxing in Sarah’s hot tub.  Sarah’s a single mother who recently lost her husband in a traffic auto accident.  Mike is the self-appointed head of the neighborhood watch and he also recently lost his spouse in a tragic accident.  As soon as Sarah and her daughter, Allie (Sierra McCormick), moved into their new house, Mike introduced himself and made it a point to always drive by the house in his little golf cart and make sure that everything was safe.  How couldn’t Sarah fall in love with such a great, considerate guy?

Or, at least, that’s the way that Mike likes to imagine it.  See, that picture above is just Mike’s fantasy.  That’s the future that he imagines awaits him and Sarah.  What Mike doesn’t take into account is that, while Sarah appreciates his dedication to keeping the neighborhood safe, she’s not interested in being seduced by her neighbor.  Instead, she’s far more interested in Chris (Rocky Myers), the superhot fireman who comes by the house after one of Allie’s friends sets the kitchen on fire.

Realizing that he’s running the risk of losing his fantasy, Mike decides to take action.  He challenges Chris to a game of ping pong, one that quickly spirals out of control.  Mike may win the game but he’s such an obnoxious player that it certainly doesn’t make him look any more attractive in the eyes of …. well, just about anyone.

Well, if ping pong didn’t work, how about murder?

Yes, it turns out that Mike is a psycho.  That really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has ever watched a Lifetime film.  In the wold of Lifetime, your neighbor is always likely to turn out to be an obsessive psychopath.  The more friendly he is, the more likely it is that he’s filled your house with hidden cameras and that he’s spending all of his time watching you on his laptop.  We all know how these things work.

So, Seduced By My Neighbor may sound like a typical Lifetime film but, in general, I like Lifetime films so that wasn’t a problem for me.  Plus, Trevor St. John does a good job playing the psycho, making him friendly and creepy at the same time.  From the minute that Mike shows up, it’s obvious that there’s something a little bit off about him but, at the same time, you can understand how someone still struggling to recover from losing her husband could be taken in by someone who says that he just wants to make sure that everyone in the neighborhood is safe and happy.

And, finally, there’s that ping pong game.  Yes, I’m coming back to the ping pong game because it was definitely the highlight of the film.  Strutting around and yelling every time he scores a point, Mike becomes every dudebro that you’ve ever seen playing pool in a frat house.  Wisely, Chris just kind of smiles and lets Mike have his moment.  That scene was just so over the top and fun that it pretty much epitomized everything that you could want from a Lifetime film.

I won’t spoil it but Seduced By My Neighbor had a good ending, one that revolved around an earlier plot point that, until the final few minutes of the film, I thought the movie had merely abandoned.  It was a properly chilling moment, one that definitely felt appropriate for our paranoid age.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Nightmare Best Friend (dir by John Murlowski)

(I recorded Nightmare Best Friend off of Lifetime on December 29th.)

Everyone’s had that one best friend.

She was the one who gave you the courage to flirt with the hot ones and roll your eyes at the strange ones.  She was the one who taught you how to shoplift without getting caught.  She was there when you had your first drink and the first time you got high.  She was the first one you went to for advice.  She was the one that called when you needed to cry.  She was your sister in almost every way and you swore that the two of you would be best friends forever.

Then you graduated high school and you two drifted apart.  Sure, you’re Facebook friends and you follow each other on twitter and occasionally, you might exchange greetings and an inside joke but it’s not the same.  Usually, it’s a case that one of you has grown up while the other hasn’t.  One of you is busy adulting while the other is still living for the moment.  Though neither one of you admit it, your friendship has now become consumed with a mix of jealousy and barely concealed malice.  You want her life.  She wants your life.  It’s perhaps best that you live in separate states now.

And then one day, your former best friend shows up on your doorstep and all Hell breaks loose….

That’s the situation in which Katy (Rosslyn Luke) finds herself in Nightmare Best Friend.  Katy has a nice house, a nice life, and a nice family.  She’s living the ideal suburban lifestyle.  And then, one day, her old friend Gina (Jackie Moore) shows up.

At first, Katy is excited to see Gina.  They go back to their old high school and run through the hallways, screaming.  They talk about how wild they used to be.  Gina even tries to convince Katy to take part in a little shoplifting.  It’s all wonderful, until Gina’s boyfriend, Ray (Brandon Howell) shows up.  Katy takes an instant dislike to Ray.  (It probably has something to do with the knife that he’s always waving around.)  For his part, Ray doesn’t seem to care much for Katy either.  However, he needs Katy.  It turns out that Ray is a criminal and to pull off his latest scam, he’s going to require Katy to help him whether Katy wants to or not.

Nightmare Best Friend features two excellent lead performances from Rosslyn Luke and Jackie Moore and a convincingly menacing one from Brandon Howell.  Howell played Ray with just the right combination of bad boy charm and psychotic posturing.  You could understand why Gina fell for him, while at the same time also understanding why Gina would be too scared to defy him.  Even more importantly, the friendship between Gina and Katy felt real.  You could imagine that two of them actually being friends in high school but you could just as easily understand why they had eventually drifted apart.  Elevated by a trio of strong performances, Nightmare Best Friend is an enjoyable Lifetime melodrama.

Music Video of the Day: The Bubblemen Are Coming! by The Bubblemen (1988, directed by ????)

The Bubblemen are coming!

Who are the Bubblemen?

According to this video, the Bubblemen lived in London and looked like they might be offshoots of the infamous killer bees who used to appear during the early seasons of Saturday Night Live.  Underneath the Bubblemen costumes were Daniel Ash, Kevin Haskins, and David J, three former members of Bauhaus who later formed a band called Love and Rockets.

The Bubblemen were a side project of Love and Rockets.  They only released one single and video but they later made cameo appearances in the videos for Love and Rockets’ No New Tales To Tell and Yin and Yang (The Flowerpot Man).

The Bubblemen Are Coming was issued by Beggars Banquet Records and came with three additional tracks, Bubblemen Rap, Bubblemen Rap (Dub Version), and Bees.  The video perhaps achieved its greatest exposure when it was featured on an episode of Beavis and Butthead.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen it but, if I remember correctly, this video really freaked out Beavis.