|Ben Johnson and Andrew Prine|
In this film that focuses on the true story of the Texarkana moonlight murders committed by a "phantom killer" in 1946, Captain J. D. Morales (Ben Johnson), the "lone wolf of the Texas Rangers" comes to town to investigate the case. Although parts of the movie are fictionalized, it sticks pretty close to the facts and the victims -- first couples out on the road, and then a husband and wife who are attacked in their home. Johnson [Mighty Joe Young] and Andrew Prine [The Evil] as Deputy Ramsey are fine, Cindy Butler has a nice turn as Peggy Loomis, but director Charles Pierce almost screws up his own movie by insisting on portraying his Patrolman Benson as comedy relief. Dawn Wells of Gilligan's Island infamy is effective as a near-victim whose husband is shot. The best sequence is a double-murder in the woods. Although there have been theories and one prime suspect over the years, the killings have never been solved. This is an engrossing and suspenseful thriller with documentary-like flavor. Remade in 2014. Halloween, often considered the first "slasher" film, came out two years after this.
Verdict: Interesting look at horrific murder case. ***.