Director(s) – Curtis Hanson (8 Mile, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle), Larry Spiegel (Spree), and Peter S. Traynor (Death Game)
Starring – James Keach (National Lampoon’s Vacation, Walk the Line), Dean Jagger (Game of Death, Shaft), and Robert Walker Jr. (Easy Rider, Star Trek)
Release Date – 1977
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 4/5
Tagline – “The place where terror dwells”
Vinegar Syndrome is a company that continues to deliver on obscure and unique films from the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. Every month they release 4 or so movies and most are those are movies I have never heard of before. When they do release a movie I had heard about before it is still something I had never seen due to it’s obscurity.
A few months back Vin Syn announced a new line of films under their new Vinegar Syndrome Archive collection that will find their way into brick and mortar stores. The first two films released as part of their VSA run is the 1977 horror film Evil Town and the 1987 action film Savage Harbor. Evil Town is one that I had heard about but never actually seen. Thank you Vin Syn for sending this one my way to check out.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows a small town that is occupied by elderly residents that kidnap young tourists that visit them to take to the local hospital. The doctor there then extracts a liquid from their brains in hopes of achieving immortality. In doing so he leaves his victims as mindless zombies that he locks away in the hospitals basement. Stuck in the middle of this evil town is two couples who are having van troubles and are now forced to run for their very lives. **spoiler Alert**
About eight years ago I was very active in the Upcoming Horror Movies’ message board when someone shared the poster for this film. It was the artwork that featured the evil doctor holding his syringe while holding the woman. I actually liked the image but as soon as I voiced my opinion on the poster I was hit with keyboard warriors who decided that because I thought the poster was cool that I had bad taste in movies. If those fucks only knew. Evil Town is a movie that I assumed was bad from how people talked about it in horror groups but I actually enjoyed it. I can see why it gets hate but I honestly liked it and can see myself tossing it in again for a late night viewing.
The acting in this one is solid for the most part. I actually enjoyed the entire cast with the exception of Dean Jagger. The cast works great together and I liked the drive-in era characters that are generic but fit the story very well. Sadly, Dean Jagger just seems so confused the entire time. He has the passion behind his delivery but he just seems off the entire time.
The story for this one is the culmination of three different movies I believe that was edited into one. It does seem a little jumbled at times but is still a fun watch. The movie slows down at times but the story still holds your attention. I can see myself checking it out again as a double feature with Nightbeast.
Finally, this is not a bloody one. For a movie titled Evil Town you don’t get a lot of evilness or blood. We get some practical effects but nothing that really stands out for most horror fans. Overall, Evil Town may not feel like a complete film but it is still fun for a late night watch. Flaws aside, I really enjoyed it and recommend grabbing a copy on blu from Vinegar Syndrome.
Newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm camera original
Audio interview with director Larry Spiegel
“Compare and Contrast” – a comparison between Evil Town and Evils of the Night
Reversible cover artwork
English SDH subtitles